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The Peer Support Program and Positive Schools
In June 2014 the education team at Peer Support Australia attended the Positive Schools Conference held at Sydney’s Olympic Park Stadium. This year the conference ran in NSW, VIC, WA and QLD. The large increase in attendees demonstrates that Positive Psychology in schools is becoming more than just a passing educational initiative. It is becoming a movement.
As many of you will know, Positive Psychology advocates that by building on our individual strengths, we can achieve higher wellbeing across the community and thereby reduce the incidents of mental illness. This signals a shift away from a ‘disease treating’ model, to one that seeks to promote ‘mental wellness’.
While the movement started in the US, schools across Australia are adopting the approach in order to improve student wellbeing. It is hoped that shifts in wider school culture will lead to a reduction in disruptive and bullying behaviours, and in happier staff. There is a natural alignment with the Positive movement’s aims and what drives all educators; a desire to develop young people’s capacity to flourish.
The choice now facing us, is how to best integrate Positive Education into the day to day activities of school life. The state education departments provide much guidance in this, as do frameworks such as Kidsmatter, Mindmatters, SenseAbility and elements of the Australian Curriculum.
Yet while frameworks outline the importance of explicitly addressing social and emotional learning, individual schools must choose how best to do this. This year, many teachers have chosen to run The Peer Support Program in order to support Positive Behaviour initiatives. Teachers want a program that builds on students’ strengths as a means of developing protective factors across the school.
Improving students’ social and emotional skills has always been central to The Peer Support Program. The peer led approach in turn develops student leadership. We are one of several organisations that have been embracing Positive Education in this way for many years.
If you are interested in learning more about the link between The Peer Support Program and Positive Education frameworks, please feel free to contact us on (02) 9905 3499 or email email@example.com
For more information on Positive Schools visit http://positivetimes.com.au/
Miranda McCallum, Education Consultant, Peer Support Australia