Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Building Student Wellbeing And Community Connection: A Day In The Life Of A Strengths-Based Low-SES Outback School: (#439)

Vicki Bourne-Fallon 1
  1. St Ignatius Parish School, Bourke, NSW, Australia

St Ignatius Parish School, Bourke is a low-SES school in Outback NSW where 50% of students come from Aboriginal families. Our school programme focused on practical, positive changes to build student ‘readiness for learning’ and school connection with community. Being ‘ready to learn’ includes nutrition, physical activity and connection opportunities through the day. We build wellbeing literacy through conversation, journaling and drawing that encourages students to pay attention to what is supporting their wellbeing. Of central importance to our work is respect and responsiveness to the Aboriginal culture of our area. Extensive use is made of traditional Aboriginal ‘circle’ practices to facilitate discussion, meditation, restorative practice, prayer, and even, compliments and celebration of success.  In addition to encouraging culturally responsive practices in the school that foster respect, belonging and connection, the school implemented initiatives to build connection with the wider community, starting with an initiative encouraging teachers to identify the strengths of the local community and their children – our students. Many of these changes are outside the taught curriculum but have resulted in a calmer environment, higher attendance and increased commitment to learning.