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  What Works - The Work Program

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Other outcomes

The Positive Playground

The Positive Playground was developed as a preventative measure. Instead of dealing with the aftermath of a disruptive lunchtime, the school executive would take the potential offenders and play cricket with them during lunchtime.

Appropriate behaviours were modelled and rewarded and the improvement of students coming out of this program into the main playground was very noticeable. Social skills were taught, self-esteem was enhanced and they were able to mix with their peers without the violence and bullying that they had shown previously. These students now engaged in their formal after- lunch sessions having had a period of fun, laughter and activity, rather than conflict.

The Positive Playground also produced a positive effect on the sporting skills of the participants. A grossly uncoordinated boy with Aspergers' Syndrome learned to catch, bat and bowl. Like others in the program, he could now take his place in any school sporting event, confident of his ability.

Some students gravitated to the Positive Playground because they had no friends or felt insecure. Most of these were boys and male staff made a point of good -naturedly teasing them in much the same way a father might. It was something that these children seemed to crave and they kept returning for more, day after day. As an attempt to help these children develop resilience, it seemed to be working. Although teachers have tried different games, the students keep wanting to play cricket, and it has been billed as 'the longest match in history' - 18 months so far.

The Anti-Bullying Program

This was one of the welfare programs already in place. This time, though, Vicki Muscat (the deputy principal) also incorporated assertiveness training to be taught in all classes. The idea was to empower younger children and potential victims with the skills to combat bullying. It also heightened the ability of student bystanders to recognisze bullying as it was occurring and to intervene or report it so that action could be taken immediately. Parents were asked to talk about the lessons in the school newsletter with their children and expressed satisfaction with the impact of the anti-bullying program on the school culture.

The Breakfast Program

The Breakfast Program encouraged some poor attenders to come to school more regularly. For some of these it was the first contact with an adult before school started, and members of the community organisations involved in this program often became quite attached to some of them.

Teachers reported that some other potential offenders had a more settled start to the day. As a result of the Breakfast Program, no child ever goes hungry.

Special classes

The school was successful in its request to establish a class for children with challenging behaviours. An experienced member of the school executive took responsibility for this class, and the change meant that the school could now cater for students who could not cope with mainstream classes. In many cases, it was similar to a pressure release valve, in that it contained the ripple effect of inappropriate behaviour, and resources could be concentrated on a single class. This class was also the venue for the Breakfast Program as most of those students would readily benefit.

It is also worth noting that the school also has an 'Opportunity Class' program for students considered gifted, and all staff have taken part in professional development on multiple intelligences and higher level thinking skills.

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