From The Principal
This week we have a special lead introduction from Assistant Principal, Oriana Constable.
With Winter well and truly upon us and only a matter of days before the 3 week school break begins, there’s a lot to reflect on as we near the end of the semester. As families may be aware, a key focus of my role as Assistant Principal is overseeing and developing our student wellbeing and pastoral programs. Care and wellbeing of our students has long been a focus of Tintern Grammar and it continues to feature at the centre of our forward strategy. I have the great privilege of working closely with Heads of School, Level Co-ordinators our School Counsellors and of course our students, to support student growth and wellbeing. Several initiatives have been developed, continue to grow and, most pleasingly, some opportunities that have not been possible through the disruptions of the past two years have been re-instated and re-energised!
Over the course of the next year we will be sharing with you details about a deliberate approach we are adopting as a school in the area of Restorative Practice. Restorative Practice is a whole school teaching and learning approach that encourages behaviour that is supportive and respectful. In schools, the focus is on building, maintaining, restoring and/or improving relationships with the belief that the most profound learning occurs when there is a healthy relationship between teacher and student, and healthy relationships between students themselves. By strengthening relationships between students and their staff we will continue to see high levels of connectedness for students. This short clip gives a broad overview or what Restorative Practice is What is Restorative Practices? – YouTube.
Late last year we appointed Mrs Jessica Fulton as the Restorative Practice Co-ordinator and she has been working closely with a group of 10 staff, representing the ELC, Junior School and Secondary School, who’s Professional Growth Partnership for 2022 is focusing on Restorative Practices. Their focus is on developing a deeper understanding of restorative Practices, exploring ways in which it can be incorporated into our teaching and learning program (including student social and emotional learning) and utilising skills learnt through training and professional development. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months as we develop further in this area.
We continue to encourage and support student voice and emphasise the importance and significance of showing empathy to others, making ethical decisions, taking action, being inclusive and living our School Motto ‘Factis non Verbis’ (‘Deeds not Words’). Our students have certainly been in action and shown care for others through service, volunteering, and promotion of initiatives. We have grown in our awareness and supported causes such as Neurodiversity Week, Wheelchairs for Kids and Fight MND. The fundraising efforts of our community have been enormous, as has the creativity, perseverance and collaboration of our students and staff to promote such wonderful causes!
Feedback from students and insights into their experience is integral to our pastoral care of students. Earlier in the year, as part of our partnership with The Resilience Project, all secondary students were given the opportunity to complete the Resilient Youth Survey. The survey measures the resilience and wellbeing of your young people across 9 key domains: Understanding Self, Social Skills, Positive Relationships, Safety, Healthy Body and Healthy Mind, Learning, Positive Attitude, Positive Values, Positive Identity.
Key pastoral staff have reviewed the results of this year’s survey and Level Co-ordinators will be analysing the responses for their cohorts in relation to their strengths, life satisfaction, hopefulness, anxiety and depression, coping style, and risk and protective behaviours, which in part informs the pastoral program focus.
Additionally, after a trial with three year levels in 2021, we have expanded the use of ‘Skodel’, an online platform where students can ‘check-in’ and let staff know how they’re feeling. Skodel allows us to get up to date information about students which allows us to respond and start conversations to provide support where necessary.
What these feedback tools have told us is that many secondary students feel connected as they report high levels of positive relationships, they have a generally positive attitude and feel safe and engaged with schooling. As is to be expected, there is variation between year levels and gender, however, one consistent message that is coming through is that students report they are tired, have trouble concentrating and are at times experiencing low energy.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours of sleep for children aged 6-13 and 8-10 hours per night for teenagers (Why Do We Need Sleep? | Sleep Foundation). Of those surveyed, on average around 40-50% of our secondary students are getting at least 8 hours of sleep most nights with some cohorts as low as 25% of students reaching this target.
Sleep has a really important job in allowing the body and mind to recharge and remain healthy. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly and we are less able to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories.
Better Health (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/teenagers-and-sleep) outlines a number of causes of sleep deprivation for teenagers including: use of screen based devices; kids hectic after-school schedules; and social attitudes. The effects of ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to several poor outcomes including poor decision making, moodiness, reduced academic performance, lack of enthusiasm, poor mental health and concentration difficulties. It is pretty hard to put forward a case for reducing the amount of sleep kids (and parents for that matter) get each night!
Parents and carers may like to follow the Better Health ‘Preventing sleep deprivation in teenagers – tips for parents’ (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/teenagers-and-sleep ) which suggests that rather than arguing with teenagers about their bedtime, it is better to discuss the issue with them and work through some strategies and approaches to increase the hours of sleep they are getting. Some suggestions include:
- Allow your child to sleep in on the weekends.
- Encourage an early night every Sunday. A late night on Sunday followed by an early Monday morning will make your child drowsy for the start of the school week.
- Decide together on appropriate time limits for any stimulating activity such as homework or screen time. Encourage restful activities during the evening, such as reading.
- Avoid early morning appointments, classes or training sessions for your child if possible.
- Help your teenager to better schedule their after-school commitments to free up time for rest and sleep.
- Assess your teenager’s weekly schedule together and see if they are overcommitted. Help them to trim activities if they are.
- Encourage your teen to take an afternoon nap after school to help recharge their battery, if they have time.
With a change to routine for students during the school holidays, it might be a good time to start having those conversations and look to form new, healthy sleep habits and routines. Something you could try as a starting point could be the 20, 3, 2, 1 formula suggested by the Resilience Project (https://theresilienceproject.com.au/at-home/). It aims to help you get to sleep on time, sleep better and wake up feeling rested. Perhaps you and your child could give it a go this week or during the holidays and see if it helps you get more sleep.