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Aorangi School

Meeting learning needs of students in Mental Health Education

Baseline data

Using the Student Wellbeing – Mental Health Education Professional Development data collection matrix, the school identified and showed evidenceof the following indicators that required further school wide development:

  • Evidence of teaching knowledge and practice in HPE professional learning with particular reference to Mental Health Education.
  • Teachers did have knowledge of the content and philosophy of the H.P.E Curriculum. However, depth in coverage of contexts was varied. Teachers identified that their knowledge of mental health education was limited and there had been few opportunities for students' learning in this area.
  • Change, Loss & Grief had not been a focus for Health Education in the school. However, through the Student Well Being professional development it was identified as a relevant need of students.

Teachers were hesitant about teaching this unit because they wanted to ensure that any experiences that students shared would be respected and managed with empathy in the classroom. All teachers collaboratively planned this unit and it was taught throughout the school during term three. This unit was also taught in the two Rumaki classes where teachers ensured that it included the Whakapapa of the students. Teachers were able to support each other. This approach also helped to strengthen building students and families understanding of the learning. Families were able to share their stories and experiences and recognised that the unit was broader than a focus on death and encompassed all aspects of change and loss. Teachers used the Curriculum in Action resource, Change, Loss & Grief, which they found valuable.

Teachers' knowledge and understanding of effective Mental Health Education has improved significantly, as a result of teaching this unit. They now ensure that their Health Education units are responsive to the diverse needs of all students and reflect relevant cultural perspectives.

Aorangi Profile

Aorangi School is a contributing school, which was built in 1976 in a purpose built open plan structure. We are decile 2 with 88% Maori, 11% N.Z European and 1% Pasifika students. The current roll is 152 students. In 2008, we enrolled 74 students and lost 44 through transiency and job seeking. Coping with change is a big part of our students’ lives.

Students enter school with low levels of oral language and aural comprehension. Students tend to have poor social skills.

Transience has been a major issue in previous years and continues to be a focus for the school.

Improvement of student achievement

The school identified the following as areas to improve:

  • Focus on effective teaching and learning.
  • Provide more opportunities for students to share their ideas and thoughts on our school and programmes.
  • Encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Implementation

It was important that the goals identified above were considered as the school engaged in the Student Wellbeing professional development. The six workshops and the follow up visits by the Facilitator challenged the school to look at our current practices, identify changes and how best the school could ensure they were meeting the needs of our students.

To achieve our goals the following implementation strategies were used:

  • Gather and analyse student voice
  • Strengthen roles and responsibilities of the school council
  • Targeted Teaching for identified students needs
  • Enhance opportunities for in-school parental involvement
  • Plan, teach and evaluate Change, Grief & Loss Unit
  • Develop a profile of a Resilient Aorangi Student

After the Lead Team attended Workshop 3: Effective Teaching and Learning they had a greater understanding of the need for students to be engaged in specific learning on Change, Loss and Grief. The Student Well Being facilitator supported the school by identifying effective teaching and learning strategies, giving feedback on teacher planning and assessment methods and providing resources that were useful. The facilitator also helped to ensure teachers were supported throughout the process, especially when they were working outside areas of their comfort zone.

Teachers identified two "big ideas" for this unit:

  • What it means to me!
  • How it might affect us.

Feedback from teachers was that it was a very successful unit. Students identified different forms of loss and change and how it impacted on them. They were able to identify ways in which they could support themselves and others during times of change and loss. The junior classes made a book to share their ideas. The Middle Syndicate and Rumaki worked through scenarios and developed solutions. The senior classes identified and shared their own experiences and how they could support each other.

The school gathered student work which will be kept as exemplars. Change, Loss and Grief has been added to the Health & Physical Education overview to ensure students build on from their previous learning.

Reflection

Through the collection of the ongoing and current data, evidence of shifts in teacher practice and use of student voice has been gathered. Teachers have an in-depth knowledge of the content and philosophy of the Heath & Physical Education learning area. Contexts covered reflect current thinking around effective mental health education. Teachers are responsive to the diverse needs of all students and specifically Maori students.

Next Steps

  • Continue to develop vision and principles for the Aorangi School Curriculum.
  • Further encourage parental involvement.
  • Continue focus on student voice – focus Groups, school council.
  • Review the Behaviour Management Plan.
  • Implement the use of restorative practices.
  • Consult the community on the Health Programme, school policies and overview.

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