Student Health, Safety & Wellbeing – Respectful Relationships

Student Safety, Health & Wellbeing is an essential element of the Old Orchard school community. It could well be argued that it is the most important element. Above all else, even above the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, parents send their children to school expecting that they will be safe and happy and all school staff have this at the forefront of their daily interactions with all students.

At Old Orchard, we have extremely high expectations of our staff (and all adults in the school community) that they will model and practise positive and respectful interactions at all times. In practice, this includes actions such as:

  • Speaking in a courteous, respectful manner to staff, students and parents
  • Listening respectfully and actively to staff, students and parents (this includes behaviours such as making eye contact, positive body language, etc)
  • Acknowledging differing viewpoints (which doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them)
  • Respecting confidentiality and not ‘gossiping’

The modelling of these behaviours is extremely powerful is supporting our students to be respectful of each other. From Prep through to Year 6, teachers spend time in their classes reinforcing with students the importance of accepting diversity and differences. Depending upon the age group or specific situation, this may range from something as minor as a student having a ‘different’ haircut to something more significant such as religious beliefs, cultural differences or disabilities.

An appreciation of our core school value of Respect, and what this ‘looks like’ is very significant in developing a positive and respectful school culture where student wellbeing and safety are paramount. In particular, Respect for Others and Respect for Self are concepts that are addressed regularly by all teachers, sometimes as a general overview on school and classroom expectations and sometimes in response to a specific issue or incident. Again, the degree of sophistication of the discussions varies considerably based on the age of the students and their capacity to understand the concepts. Respect for Learning is the third element of our core value.

At the commencement of the school year, all classes devote significant time to establishing the ‘norms’ and expectations for a positive and respectful classroom learning community. Students play a significant role in this process and take ownership of the behaviours and expectations they identify as appropriate. Establishing these baseline expectations is extremely important and staff members will frequently refer back to these throughout the school year.

I have reproduced an extract from our School Strategic Plan that provides further clarity around this discussion. We are incredibly proud of the positive and respectful school culture that exists at Old Orchard and all members of the school community should share in this pride. Feedback from the vast majority of parents, visitors and notably students/families who have moved to Old Orchard from other schools is extremely positive.

Detailed information about our school values is also included in the school diary and we strongly encourage parents to spend time discussing this with their child(ren).

Of course, our students are human and in some instances learning to manage their impulse control just as they are learning to read – these instances are extremely rare but do occur (as they do in society in general). I will address our response to inappropriate behaviour in a separate blog post.

Extract from School Strategic Plan

“Schools are not buildings, curriculum timetables and meetings. Schools are relationships and interactions among people.”                                                         Johnson and Johnson, 1989

At Old Orchard we aim to develop positive relationships with others, improve ourselves and work to the best of our ability in all areas. Respect is our primary value, encompassing a number of other values.

  • Respect for Ourselves- Resilience                   
  • Respect for Others- Teamwork                 
  • Respect for Learning – Excellence

RESILIENCE        
When tough things happen we are able to bounce back and look for the ‘half full glass’

  • We have the persistence to keep working hard, despite adversity
  • We believe in ourselves and our abilities
  • We treat others as we like to be treated
  • We support, encourage and help each other, especially those in need
  • We use humour to enjoy what life has to offer and to help us through the tough times

TEAMWORK      
Working together to listen, respect, help, share and learn, as we work towards a common goal

  • We display a positive attitude
  • We are honest, reliable and fair
  • We are friendly and courteous towards others and treat other as equals
  • We recognise, respect and celebrate the right for others to be different
  • We have a real interest in people and care about others’ needs

EXCELLENCE      
Being your best, trying to improve to reach your potential

  • We are self-motivated people with a preparedness to problem solve and start and complete tasks
  • We understand that learning is a life-long process
  • We understand that we are part of a learning community

Many other values are actively promoted and encouraged, both formally and informally. These include:

  • Trust
  • Responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Tolerance

The Old Orchard values guide all actions and interactions between members of the school community, including students, staff, parents and visitors.