Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy

Vision

Fitzroy High School values children as individual learners who are full of potential and capable of excellence. Our students will be lifelong learners, reflective and creative thinkers, responsible and active citizens, and resilient and adaptable problem solvers able to navigate through an uncertain and constantly changing future. Fitzroy is a learning community where students and teams of teachers work together to: 

  • Achieve high standards so that all students fulfil their capabilities in academic, intellectual, social, emotional and physical development
  • Celebrate diversity and embrace individual differences, including class, culture, race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity
  • Build a cohesive, compassionate and proud school community with a productive legacy for the future Develop beyond our current capacity through continuous change and review § Participate in and contribute to our wider community. 

Philosophy

Fitzroy High embraces a bold and ambitious dream: striving for excellence and equity. We aim to be a humane learning community in which teachers use relationships to deepen their knowledge of students. This is in order to engage all of them in an intellectually challenging education based on powerful ideas, help them toward social maturity, and prepare them for a life of meaningful possibilities and active participation as Australian and global citizens.

Guiding Principles for Student Wellbeing and Engagement

Health and wellbeing are essential for children and young people’s education, developmental outcomes and quality of life. Fitzroy High School recognises the importance of the DEET’s Principles for Health and Wellbeing, which create a cohesive framework for health and wellbeing. 

Healthy children and young people learn better. Research shows that health behaviours during childhood and adolescence can have a significant effect on both academic performance and educational attainment. For example, anxiety and depression appear to be negatively associated with both short and long-term educational outcomes. Conversely, health status and physical exercise have a positive effect on educational performance.

Health and wellbeing are also indicators of a successful education. There is considerable international evidence demonstrating that education influences health through a range of mechanisms such as income, access to health care and better employment opportunities. 

The Principles:

Maximise access and inclusion

Extra effort is directed to ensuring education and wellbeing services are accessible to, and inclusive of, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Focus on outcomes

Learning, development and wellbeing outcomes are the focus when designing, delivering, evaluating and improving education and wellbeing services.

Evidence-informed and reflective practice

Current and relevant evidence known to be effective in improving outcomes informs policy making and professional practice. Research and evaluation is undertaken to generate evidence and enable effective and reflective practice.

Holistic approach

Collaboration between services and multidisciplinary professional practice is pursued to meet the needs of young people and their wellbeing and learning goals.

Person-centred and family sensitive practice

Young people are seen in the context of their families and environment and are supported and empowered to lead and sustain healthy lives.

Partnerships with families and communities

Partnerships are forged with young people, families and communities, who are seen as partners in the creation of healthy environments and good health and wellbeing.

Cultural competence

Effort is made to understand and effectively communicate with people across cultures and to recognise one’s own world view. Cultural connection is recognised as playing an integral part in healthy development and wellbeing.

Commitment to excellence

High expectations are held for every young person. Professionals continually assess their own work practices to find opportunities for improvement.

(Adapted from DET Principles for Health and Wellbeing, at

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/wellbeing.aspx?Redirect=1) 

General Engagement and Wellbeing Strategies

  • The development of positive relationships between students and staff as the fundamental basis of achievement. The use of restorative practices to enable students to consider and reflect on their actions and their effect on others. The development of social problem solving skills and empathic understanding. 
  • The development of an educational community based on student centred curriculum. Effective classroom management derives from a relevant, authentic educational environment, which serves to address the needs of individuals and groups of students. Personal Learning Plans and an integrated curriculum are the basis of student learning, focusing on linkages between personal experience, knowledge streams and organised behaviour.
  • Giving all students the opportunity to participate in a social and emotional wellbeing curriculum through the Advisory program and through the integration of wellbeing into the curriculum.
  • Confirming the importance of communication and feedback by recognising positive student achievements and by listening to student voice. Formal and informal opportunities are available for those in the school community to have their say and be rewarded.

Wellbeing Structure

Every student has an Advisor who is best placed to monitor needs, and Teachers and Education Support staff work regularly with students. Each team has a Leader and Team Leader who consult regularly to make referrals to the Wellbeing Leader for Support, either internally or externally. Parents/guardians are regularly consulted and informed about specific wellbeing needs, and information regarding referrals flows back to the Advisor.

Identification and Intervention Strategies

Pro-social/protective Emerging needs Chronic/complex Postvention/recovery
Whole school student wellbeing and engagement to build belonging and promote wellbeing, eg. school structure, student leadership, reward and recognition. Targeted support for students who have or are at risk of mild to moderate wellbeing concerns, eg. targeted programs, individual support, special provision. Acute treatment and care for students with diagnosable moderate to severe wellbeing issues, eg. SSSO assessments and support. Managing and limiting the impact of trauma to aid recovery and restore wellbeing, eg. emergency response, critical incident plans.

Internal Supports
Teachers, Advisors and the Advisory Structure, Wellbeing Leader, Year
Level Leaders, Team
Leaders, SSSOs,
Integration team.
Teachers, Advisors and the Advisory Structure, Safeminds Program,
Wellbeing Leader, Year
Level Leaders, Team
Leaders, SSSOs,
Integration team.
Wellbeing Leader, Team
Leaders, SSSOs,
Integration team.
School emergency response team, Response Plan, Wellbeing Leader, Team Leaders, SSSOs.

External Supports
Yarra Youth Services,
Headspace,
Mindmatters, Beyond Blue, Mental Health promotion organisations,
School Focussed Youth Services, Private Consultants.
Youth Connect, Yarra
Youth Services,
Headspace centres and eHeadspace, Specialist and Support Services eg.
Drummond Street,
Frontyard, GPs and Psychologists through MHCP.
Austin CAMHs, Orygen
Youth Health, GPs and
Psychologists through MHCP, St Vincent’s Triage, CATT.
SSSOs, Headspace School
Support: Suicide
Response, DEET Critical
Response, Security Services Unit, Wellbeing Support.

Rights and Responsibilities

Every member of the school community has a right to fully participate in an educational environment that is safe, supportive and inclusive. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. 

Equal Opportunity 2010

  • The Equal Opportunity Act 1995 sets out the types or grounds of discrimination that are unlawful and aims to promote community recognition and acceptance of the equality of men and women, and the equality of people of all races, regardless of their religious or political convictions, their impairments or their age.

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

  • The Charter sets out a list of 20 rights that reflect the following four basic principles; Freedom, Respect, Equality and Dignity. The Charter outlines a vision of human rights for all Victorians. The Charter affirms that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. While the Charter demands equality for all, it also emphasises the value of difference.
  • The Charter requires public authorities, including DEET government schools and their employees, to act compatibly with human rights and to consider human rights when making decisions and delivering services.
Students Have the right to Have the responsibility to

•       Learn 
•       Be treated fairly and courteously 
•       Ask for and receive support from teachers, administration, parents and when appropriate students 
•       A safe, clean and healthy school environment
•       Punctually attend all classes 
•       Respect others’ opinions and be cooperative, committed and engaged 
•       Respect property 
•       Care for others, physically and verbally and behave in a socially acceptable manner
Staff Have the right to Have the responsibility to

•       Teach 
•       Be treated fairly and courteously by students, parents and colleagues 
•       Ask for and receive support from colleagues, administration, parents and students 
•       A safe, clean and healthy school environment
•       Maintain a knowledge of the curriculum and how students learn 
•       Communicate clear expectations 
•       Model respect, fair treatment and problem solving behaviour
•       Model professionalism, participate in meetings, share ideas, support colleagues 
•       Promote a positive and cooperative school atmosphere
Parents Have the right to Have the responsibility to

•       Be fully informed of their child’s progress 
•       Have access to their child’s teachers through appropriate channels 
•       Be provided with information on general school activities 
•       Be involved in the decision making processes of the school (as determined by DEET policies)
•       Actively participate in their child’s education by sending them to school 
•       Attend parent teacher sessions and information sessions 
•       Assist their child with work and with study habits where appropriate 
•       Maintain close communication with the school and support school programs and policies

Students with Disabilities

The Disability Standards for Education 2005 clarify and make more explicit the obligations on schools and the rights of students under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The standards cover enrolment, participation, curriculum development, student support services, and harassment and victimisation. 

An education provider must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate a student with disability. An adjustment is a measure or action taken to assist a student with disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students. An adjustment is reasonable if it does this while taking into account the student’s learning needs and balancing the interests of all parties affected, including those of the student with the disability, the education provider, staff and other students. In determining whether an adjustment is reasonable, an education provider should take into account information about: 

  • The nature of the student’s disability
  • His or her preferred adjustment
  • Any adjustments that have been provided previously    Any recommended or alternative adjustments. 

This information might come from the student, an associate of the student, independent experts, or a combination of these people. An education provider should ensure that the student, or an associate of the student, has timely information about the processes for determining whether the proposed adjustment would cause unjustifiable hardship to the provider. The provider should also ensure that these processes maintain the dignity, respect, privacy and confidentiality of the student and the associates of the student, consistent with the rights of the rest of the community. 

The provider may consider all likely costs and benefits, both direct and indirect, for the provider, the student and any associates of the student, and any other persons in the learning or wider community, including: 

  • Costs associated with additional staffing, providing special resources or modifying the curriculum
  • Costs resulting from the student’s participation in the learning environment, including any adverse impact on learning and social outcomes for the student, other students and teachers 
  • Benefits of the student’s participation in the learning environment, including positive learning and social outcomes for the student, other students and teachers, and
  • Any financial incentives, such as subsidies or grants, available to the provider if the student participates. The Disability Discrimination Act and the Education Standards do not require changes to be made if this would impose unjustifiable hardship to a person or organisation.

Bullying and Cyber-bullying

Fitzroy High School takes a zero tolerance approach to bullying. Schools should be safe places for everyone – students, teachers and other staff, families and members of the local community. The involvement and commitment of the whole school community is required to achieve a culture in which safe and respectful schools are everyone’s concern and responsibility. Teachers and other staff at Fitzroy High School have a responsibility to ensure students are safe within the school and broader online learning environments. They should make certain there is every opportunity for students to alert teachers and other staff to any concerns they have about safety or wellbeing. 

Definitions

Bullying is when someone, or a group of people, deliberately upset or hurt another person or damage their property, reputation or social acceptance on more than one occasion. There is an imbalance of power in incidents of bullying with the bully or bullies having more power at the time due to age, size, status or other reasons. 

Bullying may occur because of perceived differences such as culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, religion, body size and physical appearance, age or economic status. Bullying may be motivated by jealousy, distrust, fear, misunderstanding or lack of knowledge. It can continue over time, is often hidden from adults and will probably continue if no action is taken.

Types of bullying

Direct physical bullying: includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing or damaging property.  Direct verbal bullying: includes name calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse. 

Indirect bullying: is often harder to recognise and can be carried out behind the bullied person’s back. It is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and/or cause humiliation. Indirect bullying includes: lying and spreading rumours, playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate, mimicking, encouraging others to socially exclude someone, damaging someone’s social reputation or social acceptance. 

Cyberbullying: is direct verbal or indirect bullying behaviours using digital technologies. This includes harassment via a mobile phone, setting up a defamatory personal website or deliberately excluding someone from social networking spaces. 

Student Behaviour

Fitzroy High School recognises that positive student behaviours are most effectively developed and supported through relationship-based whole-school and classroom practices, and clearly communicated behavioural expectations. Some students exhibit challenging behaviour and require additional support and interventions to address this behaviour and to develop positive behaviours.

Key Understandings 

  • Learning is our foremost concern
  • Each student has a right to learn and a responsibility to allow others to learn
  • Everyone has rights, and a responsibility to respect those of others
  • Everyone has a right to work in a safe, positive, supportive environment
  • Productive efforts should be rewarded and logical consequences applied to inappropriate behaviour
  • Adolescence is a period of uncertainty when many students stretch the limits or try on behaviours to gauge others reactions and to see how they feel
  • Developing positive relationships between students and teachers at all times is our primary aim.
  • The principles of Restorative Justice underpin the behaviour management methods used in classroom management. 
  • Corporal punishment is not permitted at the school.

Whole School Approach  

Fitzroy High School is committed to creating quality relationships through: 

Team Structures that: 

  • Reduce the number of teachers that students contact within the classroom
  • Create time to focus on the skills needed for effective participation in learning
  • Are based on safety, mutual respect and focus on learning
  • Establish connections between inappropriate behaviour and logical and agreed consequences

Allying the Principles of Restorative Justice that: 

  • Develop an awareness in students about the effects of their behaviour on others
  • Avoid scolding and lecturing students
  • Actively involve students in discussing the reasons and effects of their actions on others
  • Actively involve students in determining how best any harm can be repaired
  • Address behaviour whilst still maintaining a student’s dignity
  • View poor behaviour as an opportunity to learn through problem solving and focusing on the future
  • Provide students with a range of future options for behaviour
  • Form the basis of classroom management practices at the school

Teachers who work to: 

  • Develop relationships based on mutual respect rather than relying on authority to maintain purpose and order
  • Positively reinforce constructive efforts and behaviour
  • Continually acknowledge student effort
  • Create opportunities to praise students and recognise excellence
  • Communicate their interest in students’ improvement and progress, and in their development as young adults

Students who are: 

  • Engaged by a curriculum that is inclusive of their backgrounds and interests, responsive to their needs and that connects to the world beyond school 
  • Offered assistance when experiencing difficulties
  • Provided with opportunities to participate in decision making as valued partners

Student Self-Management 

The development of self-managing students who have control over their learning is fundamental to curriculum processes. The educational program emphasises the skills required to develop self- management including: 

  • Negotiating personal learning plans which include setting goals, developing learning experiences, monitoring progress and evaluating achievement.
  • Acquiring the skills necessary to develop and implement personal learning plans including summarizing information, interpreting and using oral and written language to a high degree, understanding conceptual frameworks, being able to translate theory into practice and taking a disciplined approach to learning.
  • Developing the personal qualities to enable students to take control of their lives. These qualities include confidence, independence, empowerment, tolerance, respect and openness.

Defining challenging behaviour

There is no common set of behaviours that can be universally regarded as challenging however the grounds for suspension and expulsion are set and common to all government schools. 

In most schools and for most teachers, challenging behaviour can generally be understood as something that either interferes with the safety or learning of the student or other students, or interferes with the safety of school staff. Some of these behaviours are best treated as wellbeing or educational issues which require additional support for the student exhibiting the behaviour. Fitzroy High School keeps the wellbeing, safety and educational opportunity of all students, including those exhibiting the behaviour, in mind when deciding on a course of action.

School actions and consequences to challenging behavior

School actions are based on the concept of a staged response to challenging behaviour. The exact response or consequence will vary depending on individual circumstances, the seriousness of the offence, and whether the behaviour is being repeated. Where possible, a logical connection should exist between the incident and the consequence e.g. yard duty for littering, cleaning duties for graffiti. 

Minor Infringements 

Unless they come under the serious infringements definition, all incidents will be treated as minor and incur one or more consequence, at the teacher’s discretion and adhering to the Key Understandings above.

TRY Eg: Move the student in the classroom.
TALK Eg: Talk to the student, in or out of the classroom.
DO Eg: Complete yard duty.
REFLECT Eg: Classroom detention. 
REFER Eg. Refer to the Team Leader or Wellbeing Leader

Major Infringements: Suspension Guidelines

Suspension is the process of excluding a student from the standard instruction or educational opportunities being provided to other students at the school for part of a day, a full day, or multiple days. Suspension is a serious disciplinary measure and is best reserved for incidents when other measures have not produced a satisfactory response. The procedures for suspension are set out in Ministerial Order 625 and includes the criteria listed above as major infringements as the grounds for suspension.

The following are considered major infringements as defined in the suspension guidelines. Students are not automatically suspended for such infringements and one of the above courses of action may be taken first: 

Behaves in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person;
Causes significant damage to or destruction of property;
Commits or attempts to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property;
Possesses, uses or sells or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons;
Fails to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person;
Consistently engages in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on age; breastfeeding; gender; identity; impairment; industrial activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parent/carer status or status as a carer; physical features; political belief or activity; pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sex; sexual orientation; personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes;
Consistently behaves in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student.

In order for suspension to be an option, the following conditions must be in place: The student’s behaviour must have occurred:

  • whilst attending school; or
  • travelling to or from school; or
  • while engaged in any school activity away from the school; or
  • travelling to or from any school activity

Only principals have authority to make the final decision to suspend a student. This authority cannot be delegated. School staff may provide advice to inform the principal's decision whether to suspend a student and may assist in the management of the student’s behaviour and/or in communications with the parents, carers or relevant persons. Principals hold ultimate responsibility for ensuring that all processes are followed correctly. 

In school suspensions

When considering the decision to suspend a student, it may also be useful to explore an in-school suspension. An inschool suspension is where the student is excluded from the standard instruction or educational opportunities being provided to other students, but can still undertake educational activities on the school premises for the period of the suspension.

In-school suspensions should focus on encouraging the student to exhibit more positive behaviour, to increase their level of participation and where appropriate, to learn problem solving and/or conflict resolution skills. The same process (including record-keeping) must be followed for in-school suspension as for out of school suspensions. 

Immediate suspensions

The principal may implement a suspension with immediate effect if the student's behaviour is such that they are putting the health, safety and wellbeing of themselves, or any other person at significant risk. Where an immediate suspension is imposed, the principal has a duty of care to provide supervision of the student until they can be collected by a parent, carer, or an emergency contact nominated by the parent or carer. If the parent, carer or emergency contact is unable to collect the student, the student must be adequately supervised by a member of staff until the end of the school day. It may be appropriate to implement a suspension with an immediate effect whilst the student is on an excursion or school camp. In these situations, if a student’s parent, carer or emergency contact is unable to collect the student, they will need to be supervised until the end of the camp or excursion. If this is the case, it is suggested that the student be removed from any activity organised as part of the excursion or camp. It may also be suitable to assign the student an appropriate task or school work to go on with.

Period of suspension

Suspending a student can have serious implications for the student’s engagement in learning therefore suspension should be applied for the shortest time necessary.  In determining the period of suspension, the principal must note:

  • The period of suspension must not exceed five school days.
  • The suspension must not result in the student being suspended for more than 15 school days in the school year unless there is prior written approval from the Regional Director. To seek approval from the Regional Director you can use the Request for Approval Suspension Over 15 Days Form
  • If the period of the suspension is longer than the days left in the term, the principal should consider the likely disruption to the student’s learning before imposing a suspension that will continue into the following term.

The relevant person

Due to the seriousness of suspension and expulsion, Ministerial Order 625 requires that students who are subject to suspension and/or expulsion processes have a ‘relevant person’ to participate in the process to support and advocate for them. For most students this will be a parent or carer. In situations where the parent or carer is unavailable or unwilling to act as the relevant person for their child, they can nominate an alternative relevant person.   

Suspension of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students

When considering a suspension for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student, a principal should engage a Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO). The KESO can support the school and the family to find the best outcome for the student and also connect the school and family to any local or regional resources to assist.

Students with separated parents

For students who have separated parents, it important to remember that suspension and expulsion are serious disciplinary measures and therefore all parents and carers are entitled to be notified of the intention to suspend or expel the student. In circumstances where there is more than one parent or carer who would like to participate in the suspension and expulsion process, it is important to involve all of them in the process.

Expulsion Guidelines

Expulsion is the process of permanently excluding the student from the school in which he or she is currently enrolled. As the most extreme disciplinary measure available to a principal, it should only be used after other forms of behaviour management have been exhausted and the school can demonstrate evidence that this has occurred.

The student’s behaviour must also be of such magnitude that expulsion is the only available mechanism. 

Expulsion cannot not be implemented as a consequence for events of a novel nature such as one-off pranks that do not cause any harm to other students or members of the school community. Grounds and procedures for expulsion are set out in Ministerial Order 625:

Grounds for expulsion

In order for expulsion to be an option, the following conditions must be in place:  The student’s behaviour must have occurred:

  • whilst attending school; or
  • travelling to or from school; or
  • while engaged in any school activity away from the school; or
  • travelling to or from any school activity

The student’s behaviour must meet one or more of the following conditions:

Behaves in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person;
Causes significant damage to or destruction of property;
Commits or attempts to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property;
Possesses, uses or sells or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons;
Fails to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person;
Consistently engages in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on age; breastfeeding; gender; identity; impairment; industrial activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parent/carer status or status as a carer; physical features; political belief or activity; pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sex; sexual orientation; personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes;
Consistently behaves in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student.

The student’s behaviour must also be of such magnitude that expulsion is the only available mechanism. In this regard, the principal must consider the need of the student to receive an education compared to the need to maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of other students and staff at the school and the need to maintain the effectiveness of the school’s educational programs. Under Victorian Law, in deciding whether to expel a student, principals must undertake an assessment of that course of action under the Charter of Human Rights and

Responsibilities Act 2006. In addition, when determining  whether to expel a student with a disability, principals must be sure that reasonable adjustments have been made to assist the student to manage the behaviours where this is a manifestation of disability.  

Authority to expel a student

Only principals have authority to make the final decision to expel a student. This authority cannot be delegated. School staff may provide advice to inform the principal's decision whether to expel a student and may assist in the management of the student’s behaviour and/or in communications with the parents, carers or relevant persons. Principals hold ultimate responsibility for ensuring that all processes are followed correctly.

Removing a student from school while considering an expulsion

If a student’s behaviour is serious enough to warrant expulsion and poses danger to staff and students, a suspension with immediate effect may be implemented while the expulsion is being considered.

If consideration and/or implementation of an expulsion is going to take longer than the maximum suspension period of five consecutive days, principals can apply to the Regional Director for an extension. 

Students in Out-of-home Care

The Out-of-Home Care Education Commitment: A Partnering Agreement between the Department of Human Services, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and Independent Schools Victoria (the Partnering Agreement) commits all parties to improve the educational experience and outcomes of children and young people in out-of-home care in Victoria.

Evaluation

Date Implemented June 2015 
Author/s Rainer Parker-Stebbing and Linda Mitchell
Approved By FHS School Council
Approval Authority (Signature & Date) Kath Boyer, School Council President. June 2015
Date Reviewed June 2016
Responsible for Review
 
Community Sub Committee of FHS School Council
Future Review Date June 2019
 
References Addition of statement about no corporal punishment added as required by DET in June 2016
 

Approved Document (pdf)