A Health Promoting School
Such an approach is a way of developing curriculum, culture and school ethos that is designed to protect and promote the health and well being of students, staff and the wider school community.
Fitzroy High School promotes healthy, life affirming practices through developing resilient students. Key features of the resilience program are as follows.
- A sense of belonging. Factors that marginalise students and produce frustration and negative behaviours can be moderated when students identify with the school and feel a sense of attachment and connectedness.
- A positive relationship with caring adults. At the school, students are encouraged to develop appropriately trusting relationships with teachers, peers and other members of the school community.
- Positive social behaviours and problem-solving skills. The teaching and modelling of problem-solving skills, as exemplified in Restorative Practice, is central to developing a cooperative school culture.
- Peer connectedness. Facilitating relationships between students, in friendship groups and with others of common interest is central to the school’s ethos. Learning how to make friends and to negotiate with others is developed as a critical skill.
- Wellbeing in the natural and built environment. The physical environment at the school is sympathetic to the social and educational needs of students.
A Safe and supportive environment
Fitzroy High School values a culture of mutual respect, the appreciation of individual differences and the positive resolution of conflict. Positive social behaviours are developed and enhanced through comprehensive skills-based programs which include restorative practices, anger management, peer mediation and support.
The school has written the Student Code of Conduct to ensure that anti-bullying and anti-harassment strategies are fully implemented. The school reports on the success of these strategies in its annual reporting cycle.
Definition of bullying
The essential feature of bullying behaviour that Fitzroy High School wishes to address is the inappropriate use of power that is deliberate, chronic or repeated over time, by one or more persons over another less powerful person or group.
Examples of bullying and harassment include:
- verbal abuse including name calling, racist remarks, teasing;
- physical attacks including pushing, hitting, punching, hair pulling, scratching, spitting;
- social exclusion including ostracism, ignoring, alienating; and
- psychological abuse including acts that instil a sense of fear or anxiety.
The school’s wellbeing team has identified a range of whole-school preventive programs and practices in line with the Framework for Student Support Services in Government Schools Teacher Resource.
These include the following.
- Professional learning programs for staff.
- Introduction and trial of programs for students.
- Strengthened linkages with parents through parent information forums.
Specific primary prevention and early intervention programs and strategies
Fitzroy High School implements the Framework for Student Support Services in Victorian Government Schools through:
- encouraging a climate of cooperation and mutual respect through its leadership, teaching practices and modelling of desired behaviours;
- implementing comprehensive skills-based programs;
- implementing a comprehensive transition program;
- incorporating students’ needs and views into daily classroom activities as appropriate;
- ensuring that school organisation and management practices are democratic and collaborative; and
- ensuring the consistent and fair application of school rules.
Curriculum, teaching and learning
Fitzroy High School makes a major contribution to student health through curriculum processes and through approaches to teaching and learning. Personal Learning Plans enable students to focus on programs which are relevant to their needs and interests as adolescents. Skill-based training develops the tools necessary to learn effectively. Studies of the physical and social environment develop well rounded individuals who can make learning connections and understand learning contexts. In a community of shared ideas and common experiences, learning takes place in the everyday lives of students and not just as discipline based segments.
Partnerships and Services
Fitzroy High School has a wide range of student support services. The school uses psychologists for primary support, centring on counselling and assessment services. Case management and treatment is available for students.
The school has established links with a range of community providers in response to the diverse needs of young people at the school. These links are collaborative and involve referral processes and the co-ordination of case management. Family engagement is central to the effectiveness of school and is reinforced through community service provision.
School Ethos, Organization and Environment
Fitzroy High School provides a safe and supportive environment for student learning. Positive conditions of learning systematically address negative behaviours, including bullying, whilst promoting a whole school culture of well being. The main task of the school is to build an environment that encourages cooperative and inclusive behaviour and positive, mutually respectful relationships.
The school is organised in a way which integrates and reinforces resilience. Students are placed in Advisory groups to build relationship and focus on educational and social needs. Collaboratively organised teams of teachers plan and implement programs which focus on the best interests of students. Teachers develop supportive relationships with individual students and with the student body as a whole. The use of an integrated, authentic curriculum based on Personal Learning Plans allows for developmental learning and teaching which is sensitive to student needs.
Fitzroy High School applies the principles of restorative justice to student discipline.
This whole-school approach, which avoids scolding and lecturing, enables students to develop an awareness about the effects of their behaviour on others through the use of effective questions.
Students are therefore actively involved in the disciplinary process and are required to speak about their actions, consider their effect on others and help decide how best any harm can be repaired.
In this way, students are held accountable and responsible for their behaviour.
The principles of Restorative Practice contrast significantly with traditional behaviour management methods. Of primary significance is the maintenance of positive relations between students and teachers at all times.
Important principles require the following.
- Awareness is developed in students about the effects of their behaviour on others through the use of effective questions.
- Scolding and lecturing is avoided as it usually results in students acting negatively and uncooperatively.
- Students are involved actively and are required to speak about their actions, consider their effects on others and help decide how best any harm can be repaired. Students are held accountable and responsible.
- Ambiguity in finding fault is acceptable and the teacher’s role to ‘play detective’ is reduced or eliminated.
- Behaviours are addressed and disapproved, while the student’s dignity is recognised and maintained.
- Poor behaviour is viewed as an opportunity to learn through a problem-solving and forward-looking focus.
- Students are provided with future options for behaviour.
- Restorative practices form a school-wide approach to discipline.