Big plans for positive education

Big plans for positive education


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St Joseph’s Primary School principal Helen Whale, Merriwa, said teachers across the Upper Hunter region had seen a rise in youth mental health issues.

St Joseph’s Primary School principal Helen Whale, Merriwa, said teachers across the Upper Hunter region had seen a rise in youth mental health issues.

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New strategies to boost students' learning

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THIS year Upper Hunter schools have embraced a new approach to building kids’ emotional resilience.

And now there’s a push on for Scone, Denman, Muswellbrook, Merriwa, Aberdeen, and Murrurundi to take the next step and become the nation’s first regional positive education hub.

Peak body Positive Education Schools Association (PESA) will travel to Scone next week to meet with communities calling for a well-being framework to be implemented across entire schools. While any deal with PESA is far from confirmed, locals are rallying ahead of Monday's meeting at the Scone Town Hall.

Scone woman Pauline Carrigan is a key force behind the push. 

“It is not exaggerating to say mental illness has become epidemic in some rural communities... and we are struggling to deal with the problem,” Mrs Carrigan said.

Mrs Carrigan acknowledged state government's well-being framework, but said NSW schools often lacked the resources to implement meaningful programs. In response an Education Department spokesman said government had also funded extra school counselors and well-being services, and would leave schools to make their own decisions to engage with external providers.

Teachers in the Upper Hunter are already singing the praises of positive education after being introduced through Mrs Carrigan and her foundation, Where There’s a Will, which was set up to raise funds for well-being programs and mental health first aid training.  

“In Australia when we’ve had a problem, we’ve educated through the schools,” she said. “In 1981 they told us the sun was killing us. Through a national campaign, they educated through schools to be sun safe.”

More than 20 of the region’s schools have shown an interest in joining a regional well-being pilot program, including St Joseph’s Primary School, Merriwa. Principal Helen Whale said teachers across the region had seen a rise in youth mental health issues.

“It is certainly something we have not seen in previous decades,” she said. “And we hear the same from other teachers across NSW.”

Mr Carrigan said the meeting with PESA on Monday was by no means a sealed deal –  more of an invitation for schools, parents, and local organisations to show their enthusiasm and learn more about the positive education philosophy.

“We’re not wanting to get ahead of ourselves, but we think there is real potential there for (a region-wide program) to work,” she said. 

Side-kick business in San Diego

ALONGSIDE its branded beef push, the Australian Agricultural Company also co‐founded and invested in a San Diego based biopharmaceutical reagent company, Nucleus Biologics, which supplies pharmaceutical companies with products based on by-product materials sourced from its abattoir in the Northern Territory.

AACo has also formed a scientific advisory board headed by former CSIRO chief executive officer, Dr Megan Clark, to review and guide future innovation and technology programs.

“We’re excited about how things are going and we look forward to getting back into it for the rest of the year,” said AACo’s managing director Jason Strong.

The company’s latest results demonstrated increased earnings, increased average sales price for Wagyu products, reduced operational expenses, and reduced production costs.

“We are pleased with our progress, but we are far from finished. We will continue to make investments and changes.”

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