Schools hold key to supporting diverse learners - Education Matters Magazine
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Schools hold key to supporting diverse learners

diverse learners

The greatest wellbeing challenge students are currently facing is increasing levels of anxiety and decreasing levels of engagement. These challenges are amplified for diverse learners, such as those with ADHD, autism, or dyslexia, as the way that they engage with learning is different.

Meanwhile, teachers are grappling with high levels of burnout and stress due to increasing workloads and a decrease in resourcing due to staff shortages.

However, Awards Victoria CEO, Mr Stephen Mason, says that schools could hold the key to resolving these challenges. In addition to explicitly teaching wellbeing skills through formal curriculums and programs, schools have access to other useful tools through which they can enhance the wellbeing of all students and teachers.

“We believe schools have a unique ability to affect a sense of belonging, accomplishment, meaning and purpose for students and for teachers, and to increase the quality and strength of their relationships,” said Mr Mason.

“This can be done through cultivating a school culture that fosters these domains and through the delivery of a variety of non-formal education, programs and activities at the school.”

student wellbeing schools
Fostering student and teacher wellbeing has become increasing important for schools following the COVID-19 pandemic.

A growing need to foster wellbeing

As the field of education continues to evolve, wellbeing has become an increasingly important priority for schools. Mr Mason pointed to a growing body of research that highlights the connection between emotional wellbeing and learning, as well as the concerning trend of declining wellbeing (and a growing prevalence of anxiety) among young people.

“Unfortunately, this trend has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted various aspects of wellbeing, particularly in the areas of mental health and belonging. The shift to remote learning disrupted schooling and, as a result, affected engagement, relationships, and other crucial domains of wellbeing that schools are well-equipped to address,” he said.

“Schools play a critical role in supporting wellbeing, not only because it’s linked to learning outcomes, but also because young people spend a significant amount of their time at school,” he furthered.

“In addition, schools and teachers are uniquely positioned to teach and develop wellbeing literacy.”

Stephen Mason
Awards Victoria CEO, Mr Stephen Mason.

Giving teachers better tools to help diverse learners

Mr Mason said he believes that education systems will evolve, and make way for a more integrated and inclusive approach that can best deliver education to diverse learners. However, teachers will need additional support and the extra time required, to implement this.

“All schools, including specialist schools, should have extra support and tools to deliver education to diverse learners in a way that meets their needs. We would love to see the research, theory and practice on how to best engage diverse learners become more accessible so that more educators had access to this knowledge,” said Mr Mason.

He noted that all teachers want to be effective in their role, and that engagement and learning sit on a wide spectrum, schools and teachers need to adapt to a variety of needs to ensure all students get the most out of their education.

“Schools can better include diverse learners by providing teachers with professional development on the topic; through careful consideration and alignment of the types of programs and activities offered through formal and non-formal education; and by utilising placemaking theory to make their spaces more inclusive,” Mr Mason explained.

Change is happening

 The good news is that change is afoot, with government initiatives such as FISO already underway. Mr Mason said that he expects that wellbeing will increasingly become a foundational focus for schools.

“It won’t just be taught but it will be infused into all aspects of a school – in strategy, in culture, in programs and activities, and in the values of a school,” he said.

“It won’t just be something that sits in a corner, managed, and delivered by one person or a department. It will be a part of every teacher’s pedagogy, each classroom and the responsibility of the school community as a whole.”

 He concluded that schools must take a proactive approach to promoting wellbeing in young people, and stated that by doing so, “educators can ensure that students have the skills and resources necessary to thrive both personally and academically.”

The Diverse Learners Symposium, and the Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools Conference will take place at the National Education Summit in Melbourne from 16 to 17 June 2023.

 Connect with Awards Victoria at the National Education Summit

Mr Mason will be at the National Education Summit in Melbourne from 16 to 17 June 2023, and will present the following sessions:

  • On 16 June 2023, he will explain how to build student belonging using non-formal education theory, in a presentation at the Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools Conference. Stephen will also be moderating a panel discussion, on the topic of how we can manage our own wellbeing whilst managing that of our students.
  • On 17 June 2023, he will discuss non-formal learning empowering youth in specialist schools, at the Diverse Learners Symposium.

Awards Victoria supports the Diverse Learners Symposium, and the Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools Conference. Both are taking place at the National Education Summit in Melbourne from 16 to 17 June 2023.

About the National Education Summit 2023

The National Education Summit has continued to be an important key professional development event for Australian educators since it first took place in 2016. The Summit incorporates six individual events, each specialising in key areas of interest within teaching and learning. In addition, the Summit offers guests free seminars, including The Classroom of the Future and a free trade expo – The Education Show – boasting over 100 exhibitors, showcasing the latest educational resources, technologies and products.

The Summit is supported by the involvement of key educational organisations involved including The GROK Academy, Australian Education Union, Awards Victoria, Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV), School Library Association Victoria (SLAV), Berry Street Educational Model, Queensland School Library Association (QSLA), Eduwebinar, Salutegenics and The Big Sister Experience.

When and where:

  • Melbourne: Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June 2023, Melbourne Convention Centre
  • Brisbane: Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August 2023, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

For more information, visiti:

Further reading:

The National Education Summit Australia 2023

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