In a relatively rural, isolated community of approximately 1,500 people, Dorrigo High School is amongst a growing number of schools who are seeking ways to best support the wellbeing of their students. Aimee Dawson, Head Teacher Wellbeing, is responsible for implementing a systematic and formalised approach to wellbeing programs and initiatives at the school, looking after the wellbeing of 117 students from Years 7 – 12. At Dorrigo, wellbeing underpins all of the school’s initiatives and is embedded into the school’s strategic plan alongside teaching and learning. All programs are aligned with the Department of Education’s Wellbeing Framework.
A common challenge faced in all sectors of society is overcoming the stigma associated with mental health and seeking support. While Dorrigo High School had a successful system of wellbeing monitoring by year advisers and support staff, they wanted to provide students with another discrete mechanism to reach out for help if required.
Actively monitoring individual student, year cohort and whole school wellbeing enabled support staff and the leadership teams at Dorrigo High School to establish patterns and trends in wellbeing. This enabled them to prioritise support processes to best utilise the systems and processes they already had in place at the school. It also enabled them to proactively develop and implement programs to best meet student needs.
“Supporting individual student wellbeing is essential to enable them to feel connected, and to allow them to thrive”.
Aimee “stumbled across ei Pulse by accident while researching online” and decided to trial it. The ei Pulse platform was very similar to a ‘check-in’ process she had used in her classroom in previous years, to which students responded well. She was drawn to the idea that she could scale these check-ins across the school. The ability to track and compare this data to other data sources was an additional appeal.
Supporting a Whole-School Approach to Wellbeing
Conducting simple check-ins with students can help them feel connected and supported within the school. It can be the start of a conversation which helps students reflect on their own wellbeing and provides ways in which the school can assist them.
“The ei Pulse platform has allowed us to track students and assess whether interventions have been successful. By monitoring the sentiment data, we are able to intervene when we identify a dip in mood by reaching out to the student informally and asking what’s going on.”
– Dorrigo High School Counselor