Catering for the 'fringe dwellers' : student wellbeing
The Catholic Education Office in Melbourne recently stipulated that all schools must have a Student Wellbeing Co-ordinator, which is different from a Special Needs Co-ordinator in that Special Needs Co-ordinators look after students who have severe learning difficulties. So where does the Student Wellbeing Co-ordinator fit in? At Melbourne's Sacred Heart Primary School the role caters for what are called the 'fringe dwellers.' This is not to say that the school operates with a deficit model, but that it operates on the understanding that there are a number of students who are more at risk than others. The aim is to help students move through the education system with minimal problems; however, the school must cater for those at risk to make sure they are engaged and learning. The role of the Student Wellbeing Co-ordinator is to ensure that these fringe-dwellers are engaged. They often have behavioural problems, require mentoring and assistance with transition from year to year, need a wide variety of activities, typically do not have social skills or physical co-ordination, and they benefit from having a 'buddy', someone who listens to them. The mission at the school and the mission of its Student Wellbeing Co-ordinator is to cater for this group - a group that changes as different students move to and from the fringe as different things happen in their lives. Some might be a fringe dweller for perhaps a week, but others remain permanently on the fringe as they move through the education system. Their wellbeing counts as much as anyone else's. [Author abstract, ed]
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