Safe schools do better!

The Safe Schools program is now available in Queensland, with the aim of creating safer educational environments where every family can belong, every teacher can teach, and every student can learn.

safeschools.jpgTo kick off the program, a two-day intensive course was conducted in both Brisbane and Cairns in July. The program introduced the Safe Schools resources and gave participants an experience of some of the professional development which will be available to teachers in schools which sign up to the Safe Schools Coalition.

QTU activist Brent Brown, who attended the Brisbane course, said: “It was energising to join with so many passionate individuals representing a range of different parties who shared a common goal. After the two days of sharing, workshopping and role-playing, I walked away with confidence that the program in Queensland is well placed to deliver on its primary purpose: to ensure that Queensland schools are an inclusive place, where students feel safe and secure and to ensure that teachers are able to teach and students are able to learn.”

I attended the Cairns training and was just so happy that a program like this is finally available in Queensland schools. I’m looking forward to working with the Safe Schools Coalition to make sure as many teachers as possible can benefit from this training and make positive changes in their schools.

Research shows that students at safe and supportive schools have better educational outcomes and are less likely to have poor mental health. When school policies address homophobic and transphobic bullying, they significantly reduce violence and mental wellbeing risks for LGBTI people.

Schools are now able to sign up to the Safe Schools Coalition to access digital and printed resources and professional development for staff and advice and support for schools.

The program is voluntary and is free to join. It is up to school communities to decide how they wish to use the resources and implement changes in their school. As the Safe Schools materials state: "By signing up, schools commit to building a school that is free from homophobic and transphobic bullying, and is safe and inclusive for the whole school community."

I also attended the National Safe Schools Symposium in Sydney on 30 July. This day brought together students, teachers, school leaders and staff from a range of organisations to share their stories of making changes that benefit everyone in their school communities. There were students talking about how they have started action and support groups in their schools, teachers discussing the ways that they have been empowered to make changes at school and parents sharing their perspectives on how the program is making a difference for their children.

It was an inspiring day made all the more so by the knowledge that the program is now in Queensland. It’s exciting to think that in 2016, there will be a range of Queensland school students, teachers, school leaders and parents sharing their stories of how their Safe School is doing better.

The QTU’s Education Centre (QTEC) will be hosting some Safe Schools workshops for QTU members throughout term four 2015 and term one 2016.

For more information about joining the Safe Schools program go to:

Sam Pidgeon

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 120 No 6, 21 August 2015, p8