Schools in Victoria have been advised to prioritise students’ mental health and wellbeing and pare back the curriculum to key literacy and numeracy skills when they welcome students back to classrooms this week. Source: The Australian.
More than 580,000 primary school, Year 7 and VCE students across Melbourne will return to school from today, joining regional students who were permitted back last week.
Having experienced the longest stint of remote learning across the country – a metropolitan prep student has spent more of their foundation year at home than in a classroom – questions are being asked about the impacts on learning and development.
In the wake of research collected during the first wave of the pandemic, the Victorian Department of Education is advising schools that their highest priority during term four should be “mental health, wellbeing and safety”.
The decision to elevate wellbeing over academic outcomes appears to be informed by research done after the state’s initial period of remote learning in term two. A report by the Parliamentary Secretary for Schools, released in September, highlighted concerns for the wellbeing of certain groups of students, particularly Koori students, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Challenges identified included students’ anxiety over their own health and wellbeing, or for family overseas; parental unemployment or housing upheaval; as well as being socially isolated.
Brendan Flanagan, principal at St James Catholic Primary School in Brighton, said his teachers had done an exemplary job, but said students had missed being able to interact with friends. He instructed his staff to provide opportunities this week “for play, for fun, for building those relationships and making those connections”.”
Returning schools to major in Wellbeing 101 (By Rebecca Urban, The Australian)