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SCHOOL OF THOUGHT: Mansfield Primary School is on the right track to promote respectful relationships between its students, staff and the wider community through the Triple R philosophy in place in Mansfield cluster schools.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Paul Volkering has seen a change in student behaviour since they were made more accountable to the Triple R philosophy in the past five years.
When Paul Volkering took up the reins atMansfield Public School five years ago he was alarmed bythe anti-social behaviour playing outin the schoolyard.
There was a deal of pushing and shoving;somekids were retaliatingwith sticks.
He brought in aMelbournestudent welfare officerwho reaffirmed his belief that actionwas needed.
The school had already adopted the Victorian public schools’Triple R philosophy –Respect for ourselves, Respect for others, Respect for our world –but the students were not always being made accountable.
“You can’t just expect it will work under its own steam,” Mr Volkeringsays.
The school, with 340 students,logged every anti-socialincident in the grounds –80 to 90 ina week –before it got back to basics.
Firstly, student welfare co-ordinator Nicole Commerford came on boardto help make the students accountable for theTriple R philosophy, which aims to build a safe andsupportive school culture and environment where the school community promotes respectful and non-violent attitudes and behaviours.
It coversall aspects of school lifeincluding expectations for student behaviour, staff/student relationships, Student Support Services and teaching and learning.
Secondly,the school beganworkingwith parents, staff and other professionals to nurture a cultural change in behaviour.
“There tends to be more violence and aggression in the media and on TV; we’re helping students understand it isn’t appropriate behaviour,” Mr Volkeringsays.
Thirdly, the school introducedthe Better Buddies Programwhichmatched students to a “buddy”ina higher grade tofoster stronger relationships and support over threeyears.
A fortnightly raffle prize atthe school assembly reinforces positive behaviour among students.
Finally,concerned by the lateness of sexuality education, earlier onset of puberty and relationship issues amongstudents, the student welfare co-ordinatormet with the adolescent school nurseto embed comprehensive sexuality education across the P-6 curriculum.
The Triple R theme is supported by all public stateschools in the Mansfield cluster.
In 2016 the schools will pool resources to employ a local speech therapist, which was deemed to be a priority for students with minor speech issues who were slipping through the net.
Mr Volkering says within 12 months the number of anti-social incidents logged weeklyin the schoolyard fell from 80-90 to 10.
“We still have incidents but it’s dramatically reduced,” he says.
“99.9 per cent of the kids are walking the talk.”
Mr Volkering says the message is working well inschools and will be pushed out to Mansfield sporting clubs in 2016 and then the wider community.
“Mansfield is standing up as a community for respect; it’s a pretty simple message.”
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