St Martin’s earn high praise at national education awards

St Martin's School, Carina

St Martin’s staff at the annual Australian Education Awards in Sydney

ST Martin’s School, Carina’s student-centred well-being program has won high praise at this year’s Australian Education Awards in Sydney.

Principal Geoff Sullivan, Assistant Principal Kylie Anderson, Assistant Principal for Religious Education Jen Cran and Year 6 teachers Liz Mellon and Sam O’Leary were among hundreds of school staff from across the country who gathered at Sydney’s Docklands to celebrate the winners.

Twenty-four trophies were handed out to the best principals, teachers, heads of department and schools on the night.

Geoff said the school community was extremely proud to be selected as a finalist in the Best Student Wellbeing Program section of the awards. 

“Although we didn’t take out the big award, this was outstanding for our school community and a wonderful experience for the team,” he said.

Geoff said the student well-being program, delivered through the Year 6 Leadership program, encompassed a holistic approach to student wellbeing.

It centred around issues that were affecting students of a primary school age including anxiety, social disconnection and limited physical activity in school.

“The school’s well-being program showcased how innovative and powerful students can be collaboratively when they recognise there was a problem and act creatively to make a difference,” he said.

“Over the course of 10 weeks, they devised and implemented a range of school wide activities, initiatives and experiences that would help address these issues and could be successfully continued in years to come.

“The influence these senior leaders have had on our school and the wider community has been enormous.”

Year 6 teachers Liz Mellon and Sam O’Leary said the Year 6 students developed the program because they felt the previous program was inadequate to meet the current societal needs of ensuring that mental, physical and environmental wellbeing was at the forefront of everyday school life.

They said it was remarkable a group of students aged 10–12 were able to plan, design, implement and review a variety of activities that provided younger students with strategies and ideas they could use to benefit their physical and emotional wellbeing. 

“These incredible students engaged members of our school staff to help them organise and implement their ideas while ensuring that they were successful and delivered the intended outcomes.

“In an age where students are increasingly recognised as self-absorbed and ego-centric, it was refreshing and inspiring to see these children give up their own lunch times and make sacrifices to improve the lives of others.

“This demonstrated their willingness to act upon such a fundamental issue in our society today,” they said.

The five-step program was successful in developing a shared understanding of positive mental health across the school through providing strategies, such as mindfulness and meditation activities, for students to use when feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

The program also gave students access to exercises and activities to improve their physical fitness while reinforcing the importance of a balanced, healthy diet and the effect it had on mental health.

Students built and established relationships with other students across the school to promote active communication and socialisation and learnt to value and contribute to a more sustainable school environment by reducing single use plastics in lunch boxes.

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