Somerset Times

Mudgee Kids Enters its Fifth Year

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 4, Term One, 2018

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A special common experience happens when students support other students, which is truly magical to witness. At the end of their time at Mudgeeraba Special School, we ask students to reflect on their relationship with their partner; these insights are both heart-warming and underscore our common humanity.

Thursday in Week 3, our first group of current Year 11s commenced a five-week placement at Mudgeeraba Special School. Working as classroom assistants alongside the staff from MSS, our students fulfill a wide range of roles. This placement forms part of our Uplift! Programme, in which five Year 11 classes rotate through a range of topics over the course of the year: Mindfulness with Cathy Makin, Transcendence with Jill Margerison, Humanity with Jacinta Hyman and Justice with Daneale Scandrett. And we are indebted to these members of staff for developing these learning experiences.

The Uplift! Programme forms part of our work in integrating the principles of Positive Education at the College. In recent international studies which asked parents what, at the end of the day, they really wanted their children to be, they responded with: happy, confident, contented, fulfilled, balanced, purposeful, healthy and kind. Contrast this with what schools traditionally value: achievement, thinking skills, success, conformity, literacy, discipline and work. Our Uplift! Programme is an attempt to bridge this divide.

Martin Seligman’s research challenged psychologists to look beyond moving people living with mental health issues to a state of "no symptoms". The absence of a negative is not the same as the presence of a positive. Seligman encouraged us to aim for a state of "flourishing". UNESCO now has a strategy on Education for Health and Wellbeing; dozens of countries, including Australia, now have the promotion of student wellbeing integrated within their national curriculums. The initial research on the outcomes of this work has been very encouraging. A recent meta-analysis of over 200 studies demonstrated an 11 per cent increase in student academic achievement when compared to students who did not undertake a programme to promote their wellbeing. Furthermore, young people undertaking wellbeing programmes report higher life satisfaction, esteem, self-acceptance, relationship satisfaction and optimism. By-products here also include finding school more interesting, feeling good at school, reporting they are learning more, and are eager to go to school!

We can only hope these are the sorts of outcomes achieved by the Uplift! Programme.

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