Welcoming, involved, and listening

Russell Vale Public School is a small, family-oriented school in the northern suburbs of Wollongong. Established in 1954, it is proud to serve its community. Russell Vale Public has quite recently adopted the Living Ripples process to build on an already committed, aware and caring school.

After Covid, the teaching and executive team noticed changes which they felt were becoming trends and gathering whole school data was what they felt was needed. The opportunity to participate in Living Ripples, a three-year program helping schools gather student, teacher and parent data and act on those findings relevant to their own situation was launched in Term 2, 2023.

Principal Paul Cuthbertson said that ‘securing school community buy in was vital – especially from staff’ if Living Ripples was to work. Having this collective support has seen Living Ripples embedded in the School’s Strategic Improvement Plan (2024 – 2027).

With the completion of the first year’s whole school survey, six priorities were established, each with their own individual Action Plans. One of the priorities was to collate playground sociograms (further to their classroom sociograms) to observe, track and understand the social links student have beyond the classroom and in the playground. For many students these experiences are quite different. And at Russell Vale Public, this led to a carefully constructed and rejuvenated playground activities program to facilitate balance and enrichment for students. Examples included Skipping Squad, Student Representative Council, Minecraft, School Farm, Library sessions and Friday Cubing and Chess. In addition, a whole-school social skills program has been introduced through Bounce Back! to explicitly teach skills for wellbeing and the school is working towards adding Friday afternoon interest groups.

One year on, Russell Vale Public has increased student attendance, created and funded a new position with a wellbeing officer, and along with making progress on all its priorities, has also implemented a structured three-week intensive individualised intervention for select students to support them with develop and improve the skills, knowledge and behaviour to enable them to their potential.

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