From left: John Hendry OAM (RbE originator), Scott McCumber (Principal), Georgia Fiske (Parents and Friends Club President), Gail McHardy (Parents Victoria CEO)
Ocean Grove Primary School began to bring Relationship based Education into the school in early 2022 with a staff in-service day presented by John Hendry.
Why Relationship based Education?
The school’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Andy McNeilly explains why Ocean Grove Primary chose Relationship based Education :
“I heard John Hendry on a podcast with Andrew Fuller talking about relationships. This really resonated with me and where our school was at with our Mental Health journey and the school community. We knew that building relationships was the next thing to help our children with their mental health and also their academic success.”
Ocean Grove’s RbE journey
In this video, Principal Scott McCumber and Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator Andy McNeilly tell the story of how RbE is working at their school. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, the table below gives a guide to the topics discussed.
Background and statistics of the school, how RbE fits in with existing programs, academic results
Data showing improvements in students’ attitude to school, resilience, social engagement
Why Relationship based Education at Ocean Grove Primary? Principal Scott McCumber explains.
How RbE has been implemented at the school. Andy McNeilly on why the school chose John Hendry and RbE and how the principles of RbE are brought into the classroom and integrated with key learning areas.
Alex Fisher (parent at the school) expresses his appreciation and support for the RbE activities at Ocean Grove Primary.
1. RbE for staff
2. Into the classroom and the community
RbE sessions with every year level
Following the in-service day with teachers, every year level at the school had its own RbE session with John Hendry. Their teachers also attended and then students were set a task to work together to produce a class booklet about relationships. Feedback from teachers on this process was very positive.
In the classroom
RbE has been integrated into classroom teaching – here’s an example of a worksheet for teachers to use for RbE classroom activities.
Below you can see examples of students’ work on RbE topics. The first photo shows ‘hope clouds’ written by Year 2 students, including:
- humans make first contact with intelligent life forms from outer space
- I have some of my good friends in my year 3 class
- the world spreads kindness to each other
- junk food will be healthy
The second photo shows a student’s artwork on the theme of Kindness.
Around the school
Relationship based Education is now highly visible around the school. In staffroom and classroom, the principles of RbE are up on noticeboards, the ideas of RbE and Social and Emotional Learning are explored on whiteboards, and staff hand out cards with a personal message on the back to congratulate students on showing the RbE values such as Kindness and Integrity.
- See the note home to parents promoting the session
- See Andy McNeilly’s article in the school newsletter reviewing the session
See below for more information about family engagement.
Communication with the school community
From John’s first visit to the school (the staff in-service day on 11 March), Principal Scott McCumber and Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator Andy McNeilly made sure parents were kept informed of the RbE progress. More than that, they included lots of inspiring ideas and information in the school newsletter Grove Gazette over the following months.
The newsletter articles included:
- Informing parents about the staff RbE in-service and forthcoming RbE sessions for students.
- Details of the five principles of RbE
- Promotions for John’s session with parents (and a review of it afterwards)
- An article by Scott McCumber congratulating students for acts of kindness at school
- Other articles about related topics.
- Newsletter #6 Message from Principal Scott McCumber about the in-service with teachers. Scott writes, “I have attended many professional learning sessions in over 20 years in education but I have never been so engaged for the full day and could listen to John for a lot longer. We will be working with John more in 2022 and very soon, parents will have the opportunity to learn with and from John in a parent session most likely in term 2.”
- Newsletter #6 Article by Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator Andy McNeilly. Andy writes, “John talked about the five key elements of a relationship: trust, forgiveness, integrity, hope, and compassion.” Andy also advises parents of the forthcoming sessions that he and John Hendry would run with students.
- Newsletter #6 Article about the school’s Parent Club. (We can’t claim this as a result of RbE! But it’s interesting to see that parents are already active and engaged at this school, through a thriving Parent Club.)
- Newsletter #7 Message from Scott McCumber – commenting on the success of the in-service and linking to 2 of John Hendry’s online articles.
- Newsletter #7 Article by Andy McNeilly about “What makes a good life” – links to the Harvard 75-year longitudinal study on what makes a happy life.
- Newsletter #8 Article by Andy McNeilly about the first of the 5 principles of RbE – Trust.
- Newsletter #9 Message from Scott McCumber about ‘Random acts of kindness’ at the school. Kindness is another principle of RbE.
- Newsletter #19 Article by Andy McNeilly about the second principle of RbE: Forgiveness
- Note to parents – Promoting John Hendry’s session for parents on Relationships and Resilience
- Newsletter #20 – Article by Andy McNeilly about the the third principle of RbE: Integrity
- Newsletter #21 – Article by Andy McNeilly about the fourth principle of RbE: Hope
- Newsletter #22 – Article by Andy McNeilly about the fifth principle of RbE: Compassion
- Newsletter #23 – Article by Andy McNeilly reviewing John Hendry’s parent session on Relationships and Resilience
- Newsletter #29 – Article by Andy McNeilly continuing the theme of Compassion.
3. Building staff capacity
Relationship Reparation for staff
John’s final session with staff in 2022 was centred on Relationship Reparation, a “non-adversarial” approach to deal with a situation where someone has harmed another. The harmer and the harmed work together, using apology and forgiveness to repair the relationship. This fits directly with the Restorative Practice model created by David Moore, explored in our RbE booklet.
Ongoing RbE leadership
Andy McNeilly (Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator) and Scott McCumber (Principal) worked closely with John Hendry during 2022. John spent extra time with them to ensure they could continue to provide guidance and build staff capacity in maintaining a positive RbE culture at the school. Scott and John worked together on RbE policies for the school. John understands that every school is different and each school needs to create and ‘own’ its policies and practices.
Follow-up session for staff: Rules, Consequences and Reparation
Message from Principal Scott McCumber
Since John Hendry brought Relationship based Education into our school, it has strengthened my conviction that relationships are centrally important in education, for students, parents, teachers and school leadership.
RbE has given us all a framework to understand and develop quality relationships, to make our school function better as a place of learning and caring.
We are developing an understanding across the whole school community that relationship reparation is the most effective response when mistakes are made, rules are broken, or relationships damaged. This is a challenge to the old way of thinking based on punishment, which tends to create a cycle of resentment and disengagement. Relationship reparation helps us to forgive, to move forward and to restore hope.
RbE has helped us to create a great learning community at our school, based on quality relationships at all levels.
RbE and family engagement
Family engagement has been an essential component of the RbE activities at Ocean Grove. As John Hendry has said, RbE aims to “empower parents to be proactive positive contributors as critical stakeholders in the education of their children.”
RbE gives schools an excellent opportunity to advance one of the goals of the Foundation for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO):
Strong relationships and active partnerships between schools and families/carers, communities, and organisations to strengthen students’ participation and engagement in school
Mental Health in Primary Schools
The RbE activities at Ocean Grove are part of a long-term commitment to student health at the school, under the Education Department’s ‘Mental Health in Primary Schools’ program. These videos from the Department explore the program at Ocean Grove and other schools.
RbE is one of the ‘outside agencies’ mentioned by Andy McNeilly in the second video.