All Australian schools should be safe, supportive and respectful teaching and learning communities which promote student wellbeing. Wellbeing is essential for learning and our Catholic schools are committed to ensuring that every student is nurtured and supported to achieve their potential.
The Catholic Schools Office has developed a Wellbeing and Pastoral Care Framework that links the policies, programs, resources and practices, implemented at both a system and school level, to support and enhance the wellbeing of students within the school community.
Student wellbeing within our Catholic schools consists of three key areas of focus: successful learning; safety and inclusion; and positive and caring relationships.
The Catholic identity and mission of our schools to develop the whole child, ensuring that their spiritual, social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs are met to ensure lifelong learning and wellbeing. This exists within a system of high-quality impersonal relationships of care and support. Our schools promote a respectful, secure and healthy environment where our students grow within a community of faith.
Our Catholic school communities take proactive whole-school approaches to developing effective wellbeing practices and policies including those for student safety, mental health and pastoral care. Wellbeing is optimised when students feel safe, connected to their school communities and engaged in learning.
Some of the wellbeing initiatives that are being utilised in our Catholic schools include:
- Positive Behaviour Support for Learning – this is a framework that ensures a consistent school-wide positive approach to behaviour support
- Social Emotional Learning programs – programs that help children to develop self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills and decision-making – you might hear school staff speak about programs called ‘Bounce Back’, ‘Zones of Regulation, ‘Making Jesus Real’ or others
- Youth Mental Health First Aid – for teachers
- Teen Mental Health First Aid – for students
- Be You – a framework for schools that encourages positive mental health and wellbeing
- Wellbeing Week – where fun, health-focused activities are planned for students and staff
- Healthy Children Initiative (HCI) - is a primary school program which includes Crunch&Sip® and Live, Life, Well @ School (LLWatS) - schools have an important role in developing and supporting children's healthy eating and physical activity habits.
Health, wellbeing and relationships are taught in primary and secondary schools in the diocese as part of Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) programs from Kindergarten to Year 12. The PDHPE syllabus provides a strengths-based approach to develop knowledge and skills so that students enhance their own health, safety and wellbeing. This program incorporates drug education, safety, mental health and wellbeing, sexuality and sexual health, as well as food and nutrition and physical activity.
Every school in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese has access to a school counsellor. School counsellors have qualifications in psychology, social work or counselling. School counsellors have expertise in child and adolescent mental health and learning and apply this to support students to achieve academic success, psychological health and social and emotional wellbeing. The school counsellor works as part of the school team to address barriers to learning for children and young people. Research tells us that two significant barriers to educational achievement are mental health and learning issues.
The school counselling team is supported by the coordinator of student wellbeing, based at the CSO. The coordinator of student wellbeing is responsible for providing support and consultation to all school principals and counsellors on matters relating to student mental health and critical incidents.