Heathdale flower 18th August 2023

Leaning on Trust in Behaviour Management

Explore how Heathdale offers a safe, inclusive environment while addressing behaviour management challenges, and learn about the partnership between parents and the school in nurturing students' growth and well-being.

Heathdale flower

As parents and partners in education, we're in it for the long haul – nurturing young minds not just for today, but for the remarkable individuals God envisions them to become. Reflecting on my own journey as a parent, I discovered that trust is the foundation of our collaboration with the school. Challenges are part of life's journey, but through these experiences we've learned to lean on the school community and build lasting relationships.

Lately, our school leadership has been engaged in thought-provoking discussions surrounding our behaviour management policy. With a flourishing Primary school comprising over 1000 students, it's paramount to have systems in place that cater to individual needs while upholding our tight-knit community. While hiccups are rare at Heathdale, when they do occur, our goal is to already have a firm foundation to address issues from that has been built up through proactive education.

Prevention is key, and our focus is on creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment through education and values. Our value charts displayed throughout the school remind us all of the guiding principles that underpin our actions. Initiatives like Peacewise instil the values of peacemaking and reflect our Christian ethos. We're dedicated to teaching our students to be peacemakers as an embodiment of God's teachings. Our approach is rooted in restorative practices, seeking to mend and strengthen relationships when things go awry. While education in a fallen world inevitably leads to mistakes, our primary goal is to ensure every student feels safe, dignified, and a sense of belonging. For minor issues in the classroom, our teachers manage them adeptly using well-structured processes that foster learning and growth.

While attending Heathdale Christian College, all students have the right to feel safe, be treated with dignity and feel that they belong. Students have the right to further their education with minimum interruption and to enjoy the College program to their maximum benefit.

The classroom is expected to be a positive environment, and teachers are expected to manage all issues of a minor nature. This might include bickering, failure to stay on task, gossiping, etc. When managing 25 little ones in a class, you need processes and ways to teach. If a child is exhibiting a behaviour that is persistent or goes against our Student Code of Conduct, then a reflect and restore (R&R) session is put in place at lunchtime. This is for Prep - Year 6 students, and the length of time is age appropriate. Parents are notified of an R&R and its primary purpose is to re-educate and rectify the behaviour that has not been acceptable. It is, of course, a consequence but rooted in restoration.

During these times, trust and partnership need to be high. Due to privacy laws, we are not allowed to discuss other students or potentially the reasons why something has happened. While we all trust and desire our own child's side to be a true and accurate reflection, it is often that a lot more investigation has happened behind the scenes and parents often do not have all of the extra information. Understandably, it can be frustrating for parents when we’re able to disclose the entire picture. But the heart of this process is that your child will always be given the opportunity to be heard and the College will endeavour to ensure procedural fairness at all times. It is not the teachers' job to be investigative police or to behave as if we are a court of law but to form an opinion on the balance of probability of what is most likely to have happened. We always aim to be fair, balanced and ethical.

From here, if behaviours do not change, then consequences and education surrounding their choices increase. Occasionally this may result in an internal suspension where individualised and specific education is given in an environment where leadership are present at all times. The child must display an understanding of what is going wrong, and steps are put in place to support them. Student wellbeing may be involved and/or parents called in for a meeting to discuss potential supports that may be outside of the school. Again, partnership and building a sense of trust is paramount in these situations.

When disagreements occur, it's an opportunity for us to engage in constructive conversations that lead to greater understanding. Our commitment to unity remains steadfast, even in the face of differing viewpoints.

It is extremely rare in my experience in our Primary school for escalation to occur after an internal suspension. This would be because safety, physical or psychological, has been compromised. Parents at this stage are fully involved and discussions would continue about behaviour change.

Heathdale is committed to embedding inclusive education for all students. Reasonable adjustments apply to all students in their learning journey when managing behaviours. Circumstances of all children are considered before consequences are put in place and our student discipline procedures apply to all students. Equity means we are making sure every child has the support they need to be successful, and we balance this with every child's right to feel safe as our primary guideline.

If you have any questions regarding our student discipline procedures, please do contact your class teacher or your HoLM.