Parents Voice in Government School Education

Endorsement: Colette Bos

(Director for Inclusion, Henley High School)

I have worked in partnership with John Hendry over the last few years, in my role as a new Principal at Salisbury North R-7 School and in my current role as Director for Inclusion at Henley High school. John leads with integrity and his approach to Positive Education and Relationships is authentic, rigorous and contextual. Too often, are schools and  associations wanting a ‘quick fix’ and approach to wellbeing, John’s approach is personal and holistic and is a sustainable approach that supports students, staff and parents as they embark on our ever-changing world.

At Salisbury North, John’s role included:

  • Working with leaders, teachers and support staff to deliver professional
  • learning
  • Ongoing professional conversations via telephone and email to discuss research and evidence in the ‘Relational Approach’ and ’Positive Culture’
  • Contributing ideas to site learning plans and policies

Salisbury North has a diverse community with an Intensive English Language Centre for New Arrivals students, many from refugee backgrounds. The school has a large cohort of Aboriginal Students and mainstream students are from a variety of backgrounds some under the Guardianship of the Minister.

Our staff understood that some of our students have home lives and backgrounds which bring significant challenges and our aim was to support these students to the best of our ability. John worked with us in partnership to understand our context and work to embed the principles and practices of PositiveEducation.

It was a very authentic approach, led by John. This was not a program that was ‘done’, we learnt it and lived it and we saw the benefits every day. The work was foundationally based on relationships and relationship reparation when something went astray. Our staff and community took the time to talk to students, to understand their needs, strengths, worries and goals. Students were treated as individuals; we supported each and every one to flourish in development as a learner, a person and a global citizen. We worked with students to identify their signature strengths, knowing all of our children have these and nurture those which are not used so often. As the principal at Salisbury North R-7 School, I used John’s work, thinking and advice in my updates which are sent to staff every week, and used John for professional learning on an ongoing basis.

For me as a new principal, he was an incredible mentor who supported me to shape and build a positive school culture at Salisbury North R-7 based on Kindness and Forgiveness and enabled me to work in a calm manner even in trying circumstances.

At Henley High School. John has worked with leadership, staff and students to support our new Wellbeing Strategy focussing on a Culture of Care, leading wellbeing for learning across our site.

Earlier this year (2019) John led a pupil free day with Henley High School and Brighton Secondary School staff members and student leaders focussing on Relationships. This has complimented our Wellbeing Strategy at Henley High School. A school previously focussing on punitive actions, we have been working with leaders and teachers to focus on learning from our mistakes using a reparation process in our behaviour model. As a result we have a focus on the elements of a quality relationship and our students are focussing on integrity.

This is only the beginning of our journey with John at Henley High School, however, in nine months we have already had so many ‘wins.’ Only late last week did we receive the following statement in an email from a parent, ‘We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support Ben receives and the strong relationship we have built with you and the school. Henley should feel very proud of their wellbeing programme and systems.’

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