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October 10, 2019 |Blog

Celebrating 20 years of Peer Support at Magnetic Island State School

Kacey Constantine, the Principal of Magnetic Island State School, Queensland, understands that “relationships come first” with the students and staff at her school. Situated off the coast of Townsville, Magnetic Island State School has a population of 160 students and its Learning and Wellbeing framework is designed with relationships at its heart.

Peer Support was introduced at the school 20 years ago by Year 6 teacher Martin Hammelswang, and the ongoing significant benefits are clear to see. Kacey describes the overall feeling of the school as one of “calm”, and indeed when walking around the school you cannot help but feel the sense of connectedness and calm that permeates the active learning environment. Over the years that Peer Support has been running, a broad range of social and emotional learning skills have been embedded into everyday activities  at the school. Making relationships central to all that the school does has meant that the Peer Support Program is used as a key part of the organising framework for Magnetic Island State School. The focus on wellbeing and building positive, enabling relationships has been a vital element of school improvement. Peer Support and Positive Behaviour for Learning operate side by side to build, as the school calls it, a Positive Culture for Learning.  The importance of wellbeing for learning is well documented by research: students learn best when they feel safe, happy, and have a positive sense of self and a sense of belonging.

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The organising framework (above) which Magnetic Island State School has developed identifies the key strategies and guidelines impacting the work of the school, and how relationships are supported by these and also permeate the community. It’s a great example of how schools can develop and express coherence across various initiatives to better focus efforts and hence create synergy.