Principal of the Preparatory School, Jonathan Bierwirth, says StAC-UP is a valuable blueprint for a positive and encouraging learning environment, in which all children feel safe and cared for. “It is our expectation that all children will be happy at school and will interact in an appropriate and acceptable manner with their peers. We have taken the pastoral review as an opportunity and mandate to completely rebuild what we do when it comes to pastoral care and can already see the benefits of the new system.”
In the classroom, students right across the Preparatory School have been working on StAC-UP’s core values: Be Safe – inside, outside, and online, Be Ready – to learn in all situations, and Be Respectful – towards others and yourself. “Our teachers and Team Leaders have done a great job of rolling out StAC-UP. They have worked with students to develop their own classroom norms and a way of understanding how these values work for them.”
Additional values such as respecting the feelings and rights of others, ensuring children feel included rather than excluded, safety from physical and verbal harm, and being ready to learn, are also included in StAC-UP to ensure positive relationships among students. Wrapping around these are the wider St Andrew’s College values of Truth, Excellence, Faith, Creativity and Inclusivity.
If any behavioural issues do crop up, there are now clear pathways and protocols in place to manage the process, which are easily understood by students, teachers, and parents, says Jonathan. “If a conversation does need to be had, we have strict requirements around the process, including discussions with the student and our wider team, follow ups with parents, and the recording of all incidences with oversight from Deputy Principal of the Preparatory School (Well-being), Vicki Pettit. Our teachers are getting into conversations with parents much earlier now.”
A Steps of Consequence Policy is also in place, with clear guidelines around each step. “The process is very proactive and much faster. If a behaviour doesn’t fit with our values, we can give a clear indication to the student and their parents that if the behaviour continues, they will be on the first step.”
In future, parents applying for their child to be considered for a Year 7 place the following year, will need to arrange for their child to spend a day in the Preparatory School, and be available for a parent meeting to ensure the environment at St Andrew’s is a good fit. Jonathan says continuing to work closely with parents is a key to the ongoing success of StAC-UP. “Our value around the safety of children extends to the online world, where there can be significant dangers from external influences. We intend to roll out a number of different seminars with parents, some with a strong focus on cyber safety.”
Although it is still early days, Jonathan is pleased with the impact StAC-UP has already made in the Preparatory School, saying the ‘absolute clarity’ it provides is beneficial to everyone in the Preparatory School community. “Colourful new billboards on campus highlight the StAC-UP values and are a daily reminder to us all of the part we play in ensuring a positive, safe learning environment in the Preparatory School.”