The views of 1,812 school students from across Western Australia on their school and learning have been tabled in State Parliament by the Commissioner for Children and Young People.
Commissioner Colin Pettit said that the Year 3 to Year 12 students, randomly selected from government, Catholic and independent schools across the state, overwhelmingly said that positive relationships with their teachers, their peers and their families were the foundation to staying engaged at school.
“Having teachers who were interested in their wellbeing, friends and positive relationships with other students and families that were involved and interested in their education are the three key areas for WA students,” Mr Pettit said.
“Secondary to these were having a positive and supportive classroom environment, interesting and relevant lessons, a say in decisions that affect them, feeling safe, having help to overcome issues and being mentally and physically well.
“School is a key influence on any child’s life – it is a pathway to future employment and further education – and all WA children and young people should have the opportunity to benefit from early and ongoing engagement in learning.”
Mr Pettit said that the research had found that WA schools were meeting the needs of most children and young people most of the time, however Aboriginal students, students with long-term health issues and disability and male students in regional areas all needed greater support to stay engaged at school.
While most students recognised the value of their education, understood the importance of regular attendance, liked their school and felt part of their school community, 1 in 10 primary school students and 1 in 5 WA high school students indicated that they do not always feel safe in school, due to being concerned someone would hurt them or bully them.
“While there are many resources and programs available on safety in schools and student wellbeing, we need to ensure that these resources have a greater impact in our schools,” Mr Pettit said.
“With only 1 in 5 male high school students in regional areas saying they liked school a lot, there is clearly an issue around engagement with these students that needs to be further explored.”
The Commissioner has made 14 recommendations in his report tabled in Parliament aimed at improving support for children’s wellbeing at school. Key recommendations include:
- Resourcing WA schools to improve student-peer and student-teacher relationships that is monitored annually.
- Reviewing child safe policy and practice and positive behaviour management across all schools.
- Better social and personal support for students within schools.
“This consultation had the support of the Department of Education, Catholic Education WA and the Independent Schools Association of WA and I thank these organisations for their willingness to hear the views of their students, and the schools and students themselves for their involvement,” Mr Pettit said.
The Commissioner will continue to work with WA education bodies to ensure the findings from this consultation are used to improve education delivery in WA.
The Speaking Out About School and Learning publication is available at ccyp.wa.gov.au
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