St Peter’s College is a large Year 7-12 Catholic college in Cranbourne, Victoria, with more than 1,600 students across two campuses, at Cranbourne and Clyde North.
The college adopts a holistic approach to education, ensuring students develop knowledge across a broad range of learning areas as well as skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, technology use and problem solving. St Peter's is proud of its focus on social justice, pastoral care and student wellbeing.
Fostering inclusion with Be You
St Peter’s College is very diverse and aims to enhance relationships with its community. The school runs activities like R U OK? Day, Colour Run and the annual celebration of Harmony Day. Student Wellbeing Counsellor Nadia Picinali recognises there's still more to be done in this area, and she welcomes the focus on inclusion and diversity within Be You.
St Peter’s College is dedicated to promoting a mentally healthy school community, and has developed roles and structures to focus its efforts. The college's Be You team is made up of representatives across the school, and a Student Wellbeing and Advisory Committee focuses on the direct delivery of programs.
Nadia acknowledges the importance of a deputy principal who fosters wellbeing, supporting many of the new ideas that staff want to promote at the school. The counselling team is also key, being actively involved in the school’s wellbeing program and curriculum as well as individual counselling for students. Policy development has been a priority to enable management of students’ mental health needs.
Nadia notes the valuable support provided by headspace in this area, particularly in considering the school’s response to incidents.
Whole learning community approach
Staff have worked hard to make her school’s vision for mental health and a whole-school approach, Nadia says.
“It is everyone’s role to look out for each other within the school community. The aim is to actively create experiences for students and staff where the idea of mental health is at the forefront.”
Student uptake on positive mental health
“St Peter’s College has delivered the 'Strive and Thrive' program lessons, based on positive psychology in classrooms, which were reinforced in homerooms as well as a resilience program,” Nadia says.
“The latter includes diaries that help to keep ideas such as mindfulness, gratitude and daily reflections active in students’ minds. Morning briefings with staff assist teachers to try different strategies in their work with students.
“Observing and managing the individual needs of students, and balancing both learning and mental health and wellbeing outcome, can be a complex path for teachers to navigate. At busy schools, sometimes staff need to remember take care of their own mental health because they are often busy taking care of others. More professional development time and energy needs to be put into educating staff about how to practise self-care – and that has been a focus which we are trying to foster.”
Increasing student voice has been another goal, supporting program planning and delivery. St Peter’s College VCAL program has RU OK? Day as a primary project and has excelled this year in making the week a mental health initiative.
How to increase staff and family wellbeing with Be You
Nadia shares a few inspirational ideas to increase wellbeing in your learning community. Bring staff together and improve staff wellbeing by including them in mindfulness practice and gratitude. Or try communal soup lunches throughout winter, and pasta-making sessions. Let’s also remember that family wellbeing is another important area needing continued focus.
With wellbeing as “already a core part of our school and what we do”, Nadia is assured a smooth progression with Be You.