St Martin of Tours Primary School was established in 1958 to serve the needs of a growing Catholic population in Rosanna and Macleod. The current enrolment is 504 students.
There are some changes to the school profile, with families who have been in the Rosanna parish over a number of generations joined recently by those of more affluent backgrounds who have purchased homes in the Springthorpe housing estate.
The school has worked actively to build strong connections with families and to engage in initiatives with other educational institutions. The community’s perceptions of the school are positive; interactions and social connections are strong.
What is the project?
As part of the "In This Together" project, a Student Action Team (SAT) was trained to research parent concerns around bullying/cyberbullying. Research was used to develop actions which encourage parents to be proactive in discussing issues with their children at home.
What were the key objectives?
St Martins Primary School has seen an increase in cyberbullying incidents, all of which occur in students’ homes. Parents are concerned about cyberbullying, but feel poorly equipped to handle these situations or manage their children’s internet use.
The aim was to increase student knowledge about cybersafety and decrease bullying and risk-taking behaviours on mobile phones and the internet. It was determined that the program must also educate parents as many of these dilemmas are new to parents and poorly understood.
How was it implemented?
A Parent/Carer Focused SAT was formed from Grades 3 – 5 to research parent concerns about bullying. Research focused on discovering gaps in parent knowledge and ascertaining how parents feel about the tools/strategies to discuss bullying/cyberbullying with their children.
A ‘Family Forum’ was run for parents of students in Grades 3-6, focusing on bullying/cyberbullying and how parents can support their child. Well over 75 parents attended the forum. The Forum shared research results and presented activities to get parents and children thinking and working together on solutions for bullying/cyberbullying behaviours. The Forum included a key-note address by Georgina Manning who provided take-home information and resources.
Several peer-led lessons were conducted by the students on topics such as cybersafety. The team carried out surveys on students’ safety including cybersafety throughout the school.
Newsletter information was used to which empower parents to promote anti-bullying/cyberbullying behaviours and teach children resilience and appropriate responses to bullying. SAT participants will continue to work with the group trainer and school staff to develop a booklet for parents with information about cyber bullying, cyber safety and how to promote positive and safe internet use.
Has the project been a success?
Students were genuinely engaged throughout the life of the project, and many parents attended the Family Forum. There was an increased community awareness of cybersafety, and an overall increase in parental and family involvement in student learning as a result of action teams as students shared their research enthusiastically with their parents.
There has been evidence of a decrease in negative behaviours such as responding to negative emails and group bullying. Students have also learnt strategies for positive bystander interventions. Parent/carer skills were developed through a range of strategies.
The SAT and school staff are committed to an ongoing parent/student working group to operate in partnership with the Student Representative Council to continue to inform the parent/carer community about issues and relevant strategies.
As a result of the Student Action Teams, students increased their sense of responsibility in terms of technology use which will in turn encourage teachers to use more technology in the classroom and give teachers a further opportunity to learn more about technology.
What is the future of the project?
The project will continue to establish a new level of partnership between the school and parent/carer community by the formation of an ongoing parent/student working group to identify and tackle bullying issues. The ‘In This Together’ booklet and movie when completed will remain as a resource for the school and be used to discuss bullying/cyberbullying at parent information nights in the future.
The findings of the project will be built into the Student Wellbeing Plan and included in policy development. There is also the possibility of expanding the SAT Program with specific activities at every year level in the school.