Wellbeing program improves school life for staff and students

Music and art programs, whole-school breakfasts and a partnership with the Penrith Panthers have helped put wellbeing front and centre at Coreen School.

A school for specific purposes located in Blacktown, 80 per cent of Coreen’s 49 students are male. The school’s mentorship program with the Penrith Panthers under 21s team helps students understand that they can shape their life both at school and outside of it, and has had a big impact.

Principal Tim Gardner said he approached the club with an attitude that “anything that was good enough for a mainstream school was good enough for these kids”. He joined Coreen having previously provided training for other principals on the department’s Wellbeing Framework for Schools.

“When I started at Coreen I asked, ‘how can I measure wellbeing to the children here’, and I worked backwards from that” he said. “I knew that part of that was that in order to for the students to get the best out of the staff, the staff need to need to be mentally and physically strong.”

Creating matching hoodies with AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) for staff and students to wear ignited a shift in the community’s dynamic, as students started to feel more connected and comfortable communicating with their teachers.

Whole-school breakfasts and lunches have further united the school, and an Assistant Principal Wellbeing has been appointed to ensure wellbeing is an important part of all school programs and initiatives.

Coreen has since made a variety of changes to continue their journey to greater wellbeing that fuels greater learning. A music therapy program is run every Wednesday including staff session in the afternoon once the students have left for the day and wellbeing stations in the staffrooms contain fresh fruit and mindfulness resources that are replenished each week.

Physical changes have included painting the walls in soft greys and blues and setting up a wellbeing room as an alternative learning space and an area where a local partner gym can lead workouts for staff and students.

Has your school trialled an innovative approach to support students with disability? Share it with us at disability.strategy@det.nsw.edu.au.

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