At St Andrew’s, your cohort is your community and you are known and valued.
We deliver an engaging, aligned and evidenced-based student wellbeing framework from Kindergarten to Year 12, to develop students with hearts that love, minds that grow and lives that give.
We aim to promote student flourishing and to build students with character. Character education at SACS is whole person education. It goes beyond the individual themselves and impacts our wider school community and broader society.
In 2020-21, the school embarked on a project to bring its character strengths to life, by creating engaging and relatable illustrations that create great discussion points for students and staff. See how it unfolded in the video below:
Learning requires a caring environment
At SACS we foster an atmosphere of caring, both in and out of the classroom. Our staff make the effort to know each student by name. Conduct in our classrooms is founded on cooperation, caring, helping, encouragement and support. This attitude allows students to grow and learn, not only academically, but to become rounded individuals who behave responsibly and ethically in everything they do.
Directed by our pastoral team, we gather quantitative and qualitative data on our students’ wellbeing needs, using this information to deliver responsive and differentiated wellbeing programs.This consists of a range of activities that are available to students to help them deal with many of the challenges faced by young people today.
We engage with different external experts to inform and promote a positive school community and support social and emotional learning in our students. This includes student and parent seminars throughout the school year, selected to provide our students, staff and parents with helpful information.
Tutorial time in secondary school
Our weekly tutorial time for secondary students follows an evidenced based program that is cohesive and contextually relevant for each year group. Tutors strive to create a more informal classroom dynamic that brings about interactions with students and facilitates appropriate peer to peer conversations about the respective themes and challenges for their students. The pastoral activities are diverse and are informed by a range of sources that have been appropriated for our school context and that are authentically Christian. We have a focus on Character and Positive Education, including many in-house programs, our own SACS character strengths and resources from Flourishing at Schools.
Character and resilience programs
The Middle School’s various character and resilience programs, informed by our in-house research, is aimed at guiding students through a range of issues to help them grow socially and emotionally, and to succeed academically.
An in-depth program in the Senior College seeks to build positive relationships, protect against stress and negative emotion, whilst giving students time to serve and connect with the community, and to reflect on character and purpose. This equips them with social and emotional skills, and the strength to problem-solve and start again in times of failure, whether academic or personal. An overview of each Year-group program offered appears below.
Year group programs
Junior School (K – Year 6)
Within the Junior School our classroom teachers exercise strong Christian pastoral care and support for the children in their care, recognising the importance of nurturing the whole child. The wellbeing of students and their development of social and emotional skills is thoroughly integrated throughout our classrooms in a multitude of ways, such as the language used in class discussions, books chosen, and topics studied and researched. Teachers are seeking to grow within their students the SACS Character Strengths in a real way that they can use as their foundation and apply to everyday interactions with one another, their families and the wider community.
We use the Visible Wellbeing framework to focus our wellbeing programs and activities. This framework encompasses the areas of emotional regulation, coping and resilience, growth and goals, attention and awareness and relationships. These areas are woven throughout the Junior School curriculum and classrooms so that conversations and activities related to them are just a natural part of being a SACS student. Specific programs such as the Bounce Back program, the Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking resources are integrated into the lessons and language used throughout the school.
These programs have been selected for the way in which they make the complex skills and concepts of wellbeing accessible for our young students in fun and engaging ways which they can relate to. Our school psychologists and specialist teachers regularly go into our Junior School classrooms to lead lessons and activities focused on developing areas of wellbeing.
Middle School Year 7 – Peer Support program and Digital Citizenship seminars
Run by Year 11 students, the Peer Support program covers a variety of core skills required for high school such as developing friendships, organisation, empathy, resilience and city safety. Several seminars on Digital Citizenship address how students can engage with others on the internet safely and respectfully and avoid cyberbullying. A ‘Get your act together!’ program helps Year 7 students develop organisational skills, build friendships, understand school rules and create a suitable home study area,
Middle School Year 8 – Respect, self-control and learning to lead
The Year 8 program focuses on leadership and positive engagement in school life, covering topics of respect for self and others, self-control and learning to lead – preparing them for leadership roles within the school. A series called ‘This is me’ helps students find their place in the world by discussing self-image, self-talk and emotional regulation. Further sessions on safely navigating the online world and using technology are also included.
Year 9 – Relationships
In Year 9, students are separated into male and female tutorial groups that encourage open communication with other students and honest personal reflection on growing up, over a four-term program:
Relationship with self – aims to help students understand the impact of their family on who they are today and how they feel about themselves as young people.
Relationship with others – students learn how to grow healthy friendships and identify the features of healthy romantic relationships.
Relationship with the world – students will gain an understanding of the significance of the values we have and why we develop them.
Relationship with spirit – students reflect on their own belief systems, how we can deal with grief, death and depression in a way that grows resilience.
All students are encouraged to adopt a growth mindset, offering motivation and engagement workshops to ensure students are equipped to face the challenges of the final years of school and flourish. Some of the specific programs offered to year groups are listed below:
Year 10 – building positive relationships
Senior College is the ‘finishing’ of the student school experience. While academic achievement is the focus of this period of school, wellbeing is the platform on which a student’s best results can be achieved. The fostering of positive relationships, across different areas, is a key protective factor for our students as they build towards their final years of schooling.
A variety of social and emotional skills and programs are presented, including: Study Skills seminars, Your Choicez relationship seminars, Flourishing at Schools Positive Psychology program, House based competitions, and Character based initiatives focusing on meaningfulness, service learning and purpose.
Year 11 – Character in Action, Leadership, and Peer to Peer mentoring
The students are given tools to manage stress and learn about how to stay motivated, engaged and achieving personal best in their academic life. Mindfulness and resilience are revisited, and students assess their Character strengths and weaknesses, researching Character role models and creating presentations to tell good stories that focus on the School Character strengths.Students also work with Junior School students across the year as part of a mentoring program to build relationships and develop leadership skills.
Year 12 – Study Skills and the Life Hacks Program
Students participate in the high-impact Elevate Education program that covers study sessions, time management, how to ace exams, set goals and develop a growth mindset. Each student’s academic performance to date is discussed with their tutor and the Head of House and students are encouraged to set goals and realistic paths to achieving those goals. Students regularly meet with their tutors throughout the year to discuss assessments and reflect on their performance.
The Life Hacks program, a key part of the stress management program for our Year 12 students, provides essential life skills such as changing a flat tyre on a car, personal budgeting, careers advice, and cooking a meal! A leadership retreat, early in Year 12, helps students gain an understanding of their role as leaders of the school.
Student leadership opportunities
Personal growth occurs through challenge – and what better challenge than assuming responsibility? From Junior School to Senior College, there are innumerable opportunities to be a leader, inside and outside of the classroom.
More than a dozen leadership positions are appointed to Year 6 students, following nomination, student speeches and a whole-year vote. These students hold important roles of community service and mentoring, providing role models to younger students and preparing themselves in confidence for high school.
In Middle School, about 16 leaders are appointed in Year 9, following an application and interview process. These students are community service representatives, mentors to peers and grow significantly in responsibility, assisting at school events and serving as ambassadors. Year 11 students can take part in the Peer Support program, assisting Year 7 students in settling into high school.
By Year 12, every student is considered a leader and proudly wears a student leader badge on their blazer. In the July preceding Year 12, the School Leadership Team is announced. This allows the students to shadow the current team before taking office in Term 4. All Year 12 students are encouraged to become involved in the many projects developed by the team.