St. Dominic's Primary School Camberwell East
Student Wellbeing at St Dominic’s is about 5 things:
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships, Relationships and Relationships
At St. Dominic’s, we believe that young people who are happy, confident, resilient and able to establish meaningful relationships, and navigate the complexities of these relationships, are better placed to form positive habits that will increase their capacity to deal with challenges or changes in their future.
The child is central to everything we do at St. Dominic’s and we are fully committed to the welfare and growth of the whole child. The caring and nurturing oversight of our staff and families ensures that children learn and grow, with the strong support of the community.
Social Emotional Learning ( SEL), forms part of our every day. St. Dominic’s has a zero tolerance approach to bullying and there are protocols in place to support this.
Student wellbeing has a very high priority at St. Dominic’s and our school has an excellent reputation in the wider community for the quality of its safety, care and focus on the individual. Students at St. Dominic’s are articulate, engaged and committed to a range of social outreach programs, such as Lynden Aged Care, St. Vincent de Paul, environmental groups, fundraising for Kopanang (https://kopanang.africa/ South Africa), and other Dominican and Catholic ministries.
Our 5 School Norms are explicitly taught and referenced, and these Norms define school wide expectations that underpins the very fabric of our school.
St Dominic’s School Norms
I am truthful
I am respectful and friendly
I am a cooperative and positive learner
I learn and play safely
I care for property and the environment
“When a learning community honours the sacred dignity of each person they engender a feeling of being valued and understood. The learning community believes that everyone can experience success and be supported to see their lives as being shaped by the God who is at work in all of creation.”
Horizons of Hope: Vision and Context (p. 6)
Social Emotional Learning
What does SEL look like at St Dominic’s?
Harmony Day celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity.
It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
In celebration of our diversity, and the many different stories, histories, practices, languages, genders, traditions,foods and richness that is St Dom’s, Harmony Day is marked and enjoyed across our school.
Activities that showcase our proud cultural diversity include a Multicultural Dress/flag colors Parade, a Harmony Bake, aerial St. Dom’s Harmony images and engaging hands-on activities across all curriculum areas.
The Resilience Project is an engaging, practical and evidence-based mental health programme that is facilitated as part of St. Dominic’s SEL teaching and learning.
We know that there are challenges, changes and stressors at different times in our lives. Developing a range of positive mental health habits and strategies that help us all build our resilience and happiness, and increasing our capacity to deal with adversity in our future, is why we are so passionate about delivering this program.
The Resilience Project at St. Dom’s is all about GEM.
The Resilience Project curriculum focuses on:
Gratitude- paying attention to things we have right now, not about those things we don't have
Empathy- putting ourselves in the shoes of others, being kind and compassionate
Mindfulness- being calm and present in any given moment, slowing down
During lockdown 2020, our St. Dominic’s students, while living through an unprecedented global event, still managed to name and share all the wonderful things in their lives that they were so grateful for.
The ‘DIS’ cloth was a wonderful celebration of GEM within our school community. The DIS Cloth is our collection of happy, positive, awesome people, places and things that we have in our lives and we are so proud of this.
“While problems and conflicts are unavoidable elements of life, good communication skills facilitate problem solving and resolution of conflicts. Ineffective communication creates a void that breeds misunderstanding and distrust.” (Dettmer, Thurston & Dyck 2002)
St. Dominic’s adopts a Restorative Practice approach as part of their positive behaviour management.
Restorative Practices is a proactive practice with a focus on RELATIONSHIPS. St. Dominic’s uses a Restorative Practices approach if social conflicts do arise.
We believe and our practices reflect a culture of belonging, empowerment, participation and inclusion.
If conflict or upset occurs and with expert guidance from Restorative Practices trained staff, students are guided and supported to understand their actions and are encouraged to then ‘make things right’. The Restorative Practices approach is a ‘more asking, less telling’ approach. Students acknowledge the impacts of their choices on self and others
Students are encouraged to be reflective (as reflection allows for learning), and where needed, explicit social skilling and the teaching of a more appropriate replacement behavior, will occur.
St. Dominic’s is fully committed towards building a culture of respect and gender equality.
St. Dominic's is a Respectful Relationships Partner School (RRRR- Resilience, Rights & Respectful Relationships)
Respectful Relationships supports our school in promoting and modeling respect, positive attitudes and behaviors. It teaches our children how to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence.
The links below highlights what the Respectful Relationships Initiative is all about:
Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships
The Royal Commission into Family Violence, identified the critical role that schools have in creating a culture of respect. Changes in attitudes and behaviors can be achieved when positive attitudes, behaviors and equality are modeled and embedded within our education settings.
St. Dominic's proudly adopts a whole-school approach to the Respectful Relationships initiative.
Our St. Dominic's community, together, can lead the way in saying yes to respect and equality, and creating genuine and lasting change. With this collective approach, it is hoped that every child within our school will have the opportunity to feel safe, confident, resilient and respected, and achieve their fullest potential.
The Respectful Relationship initiative complements, reinforces and extends our teaching and learning in the SEL domain.
As part of St. Dominic's commitment towards building a culture of respectful relationships and gender equality, Elephant Ed https://www.elephanted.com.au/ have delivered extremely relevant and engaging sessions for the Year 5/6 cohort over the last 2 years (2021, 2022)
Talking about 'the elephant in the room', the young, very relatable facilitators present evidenced based learning to our students, around puberty and embracing change.
These sessions have been a real 'hit' with our young people. With matter of fact information, they are now better placed to understand and positively manage their adolescent journey.
100% of the students gave the workshops a thumbs up and a snippet of their anonymous feedback included,
"I learnt a lot''
''You answered all the questions, Please come back!''
'It felt like a comfortable and safe space''
Our students are growing within a changing and often complex world. We are teaching them skills that allow them to flourish, feel affirmed and have a growth mindset, within a safe, positive, welcoming and respectful community.
Developing protective and proactive strategies against Bullying is a key SEL focus, throughout the year.
The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is an important one on our school calendar, and one where we join together to say,’Bullying,No Way!’, on this day and every day.
The Resilience Project and Respectful Relationships curriculum, together with a Restorative Practices approach, are used at our school to reinforce, teach, model, learn, practice and showcase kind, tolerant and inclusive behaviors toward others. These programs also teach our students positive strategies that they can use, if they are faced with situations that may make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
At times, some students may benefit from some additional explicit social support teaching and learning.
Social skill groups have been offered to small cohorts of students, facilitated by the wellbeing leader. These groups give the participants the opportunity to continue to learn and practise
Social and emotional communication skills
Problem solving and self-management skills
Within a structured but fun, safe space, students continue to extend their social learning and then transfer and practice this learning onsite, within the context of their school
Every student at our school is paired up with a buddy. Older students buddy up with younger students. Through these partnerships, the values of care, compassion, responsibility and friendliness are shared between students and strong bonds are developed.
Buddies enable younger students to feel safe and cared for and older students feel a great sense of value and respect.
Preps sharing lunch each Friday with their Year 6 buddies, is a weekly highlight for both groups.
Every Year 6 student is also paired up with a Teacher Buddy. ‘Buddy Breakfast’ each term allows the adult to have special one on one Buddy time.
These staff/student and student/student Buddy relationships and connections have a special place in our school.
If any student, at any time, is feeling alone in the playground, sitting on the Buddy Bench carries a strong message. ’Come and play with us’ or 'I can sit with you too’ reach out opportunities, are encouraged and praised.
Student Voice & Agency
Student voice is firmly based within values that reflect the Catholic tradition – where students are empowered to seek truth and to question, critique and act on the cultural, political and philosophical ideas within their world. At St. Dominic’s we are committed to the active participation and voice of all students in all aspects of school life. This recognises that student participation and an active ‘voice’ enhances important outcomes in learning, empowerment and engagement. Student voice reflects the belief in the contributions that students are able to make to their faith, their school, their community and the common good.
At St. Dominic's Student Voice is lived through SRC, Student Leadership, Buddies program, engagement with other schools, councils and organisations, as well as daily through student engagement and highly-effective teacher practice which allows for student voice, agency and empowerment.
Students at St. Dominic’s are empowered to actively participate in various leadership opportunities throughout their primary school years. Our SRC and Year 6 Student Leadership are testament to a long tradition of enabling our children to lead, follow their strengths and interests, learn from others as well as about themselves, and to guide others and represent our school in positive ways. Leadership opportunities are not only limited to senior school students, as our students have opportunities to ‘shine’ and lead across all year levels and in all curriculum and extra-curricular areas. St. Dominic’s students are empowered to be leaders now and into their future.
“'Learning diversity’ refers to the infinite variety of life experiences and attributes a child brings to their formal learning at school. All students with diverse learning needs have a right to access a full and engaging education on the same basis as their peers. Catholic schools seek to empower learners by celebrating difference and providing educational opportunities aimed at eliminating discrimination and focused on growth and progress for all.”
(CECV Horizons of Hope Foundation Statement: Learning Diversity in Catholic Schools, 2017)
Everyone learns differently and we think that is absolutely okay!
At St Dominic’s, we provide quality education through diverse teaching and learning experiences. We value a collaborative approach to student learning and seek effective ways to meet the needs of all different learners, so that every student can experience success.
Not only is the curriculum differentiated at St Dom’s, our learning and teaching approaches and the valuing and encouragement of learning difference (be it in learning styles, interests or student voice around personal learning goals), caters for individual needs and abilities of all.
Our Learning Diversity Leader works in collaboration with teachers, to develop Personalised Learning Plans (PLPs) for students requiring adjustments and additional academic, physical, social or emotional support. Program Support Teams (inclusive of teachers, parents, multidisciplinary external professionals) meet regularly and work in partnership, to develop, implement and monitor a student's Personalised Learning Plans.
Consultants from the Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools (MACS), such as Speech Therapists, Educational Psychologists and Learning Diversity Consultants, provide additional expert advice to our school on how together, we can best support the needs of our young people.
We are fortunate to have staff who are trained in delivering specific interventions, which means we can select the right intervention to target and support particular needs of a student.
Currently, we are supporting student learning needs through:
Reading Recovery- an intensive, evidence based one–to–one Literacy intervention program, facilitated by a specially trained teacher. The Reading Recovery Program supports Year 1 students whose reading and writing skills need further development.
Levelled Literacy Intervention ( LLI) - effective small-group instruction for those students who find challenges with aspects of reading and writing. Books are levelled and lessons systematically designed and delivered. LLI empowers students as they work towards attaining improved reading and writing proficiency.
Multisensory Structured Language (MSL)- The MSL evidence-based approach is delivered by a specially trained and accredited MSL tutor, and teaches spelling rules, develops understanding of why words are spelt the way they are and then equipping the students to confidently apply this knowledge to reading, writing, spelling and comprehension. MSL incorporates the 5 essential steps to reading and writing success:
identifying letter sounds
sounding out words
Numeracy Support- Additional Maths teaching and learning, in either 1-to-1 or small group settings, supports students to develop number facts, explore strategies to solve mathematical problems and further extend knowledge in mathematical concepts and skills.
We believe in a ‘wraparound’ approach at St. Dominic’s. WitIn each of our classrooms, additional teaching staff work in conjunction with classroom teachers to challenge or extend existing skills. Our committed Learning Support Officers (LSOs) provide expertise and a supporting ‘extra pair of hands’. They are an invaluable resource in the growth, learning and support of our students. Additionally, our Literacy Leader, Maths Leader and Wellbeing Leader deliver explicit and expert support within classrooms, or facilitate small ‘pull out groups’, for extension work and/or additional support work.
Happy, independent, engaged and diverse learners, who value themselves and others, is the measure of our success.