19 October 2022

Albert Town High and SWPBIS still making a positive impact on the school culture

As schools reopened for full face-to-face learning in September, three school leaders at the Albert Town High School in Trelawny shared their experience with a UNICEF-supported Ministry of Education and Youth initiative that has improved student behaviour and school culture overall. The School-Wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (…, What was your lightbulb moment and what are the key takeaways from the training?, Janice Skeen Miller, Vice-Principal: What that (SWPBIS) training did for us, as a school, was that it helped us to become more aware of how to use the positives to change negative behaviour. The school is now looking at what students are doing that is right and using that to help them to realise when they go wrong. We had our core values displayed…, What did you put in place to implement SWPBIS?, Denise Hughes, Guidance Counsellor: We got a team in place and got persons to buy into the programme. We got all persons on board – teachers, staff members, parents, community personnel – so we could get the programme rolling and created a positive environment because it was a bit negative before. We got students to participate and to feel good…, Thumbs Up Cards and vouchers, Denise Hughes: When a student turns up with an item that was found they will receive a Thumbs Up Card. Five Thumbs Up Cards qualify them for a lunch voucher. We highlight these behaviours in devotion that this person feels confident, and it will impact their self-esteem … and the students are recognized in devotion., How hard was it to get the buy-in?, Denise Hughes: It wasn’t very hard at all. Olando Sinclair: The team not only included teachers. There were parents on the team and the business community. We involved a wide cross-section of the community and of course the students. And with all these persons representing the various stakeholders, the buy-in was pretty good., What was it like before?, Olando Sinclair: They (students) were more aggressive towards each other and authority. We had the rules but when we tried to enforce (them) there was aggression and high levels of indiscipline regarding their uniform, damage to school furniture, a lot of fights and graffiti on the walls. There was no respect for the environment and to authority.…, How are you restarting the initiative after the COVID-19 closure?, Olando Sinclair: We have to be adaptable with the programme. What mattered in 2013 and 2014 are not as relevant now as then. That level of aggression is not there but we are seeing some other things creeping up now. One thing we know is that we have some issues relating to the value that is placed on education. There is the get-rich-quick culture…, How is the school combatting this culture?, Olando Sinclair: We are in the process of trying to understand (it). The children … we have to involve them. They have a richer understanding as to what is happening. They have the peer influence. Getting the children involved in it … that would help us to put an effective plan in place and that takes some work and will help us with adaptability.…, How did capacity building sessions help staff and prepare for reopening?, Olando Sinclair: At the school level we did several capacity building sessions where we focused on the psychosocial wellbeing of teachers and to include students and parents as well. We also did some sessions on online pedagogy to ensure that teachers are coping with online and prepare us to return to the face-to-face. Because both teachers and…, What were your school’s CSEC passes like this year?, Janice Skeen-Miller: The CSEC passes this year were fairly good. We have just one subject that we were concerned about: Mathematics was our weak point, so we are working on it., Share one success story?, Janice Skeen-Miller: I’ll share with you about one young lady who continues to be a beacon wherever she goes. She came out of a toxic environment but at school we were able to mold her into a role model: she served as a prefect, then head girl and SWPBIS ambassador., Anything else?, Janice Skeen-Miller: One thing that stands out for us, I don’t walk and see graffiti anywhere. Prior to this, as soon as you paint, they would mark up the walls. We are not seeing that happen anymore., What’s UNICEF doing?, Schools like Albert Town High are leading the way as we create mechanisms to share experiences on institutional approaches that can prevent, reduce, mitigate and respond to violence. All children deserve to feel safe at school and the SWPBIS framework gives school teams guidelines to do just that within each of their own unique contexts. UNICEF…
22 August 2022

My old primary school gets five stars for healthiness!

[SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH VIDEO] As a former student of Mona Heights Primary School, and now UNICEF’s Nutrition Consultant, from the moment I stepped back onto the playground, I was overjoyed to see the great work being done to provide a school environment that demonstrates positive healthy nutrition and physical activity. From growing their own food…, Children modelling healthy living habits , Modelling healthy habits has become a part of the children’s behaviour. This shift has also resulted in a healthy school culture.  I saw happy, healthy students now driving the activities who were excited to be involved, enthused to line up to buy fruits as snacks or for smoothies, skilled in growing their own foods and who understood why this was…, Commitment from school leadership   , Replicating what Mona Heights is doing at other schools will first take commitment among school leadership and staff to invest in school nutrition and health as a critical step to improving the well-being and learning of our children. We all know that schools must balance many responsibilities daily. Therefore, they will want to carefully consider…, Fighting obesity; recovering post-pandemic , This represents serious threats to their long and short-term health, wellness and development – increasing their risk of NCDs like high blood pressure and type II diabetes; mental health impacts such as depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, and poor educational attainment; and causing significant emotional and financial cost to families.…, What’s UNICEF doing? , Health and nutrition are a foundation for education. UNICEF’s Nutrition Programme aims to protect the right of infants, children and young people to safe, nutritious food and recognizes that healthy, well-nourished children and adolescents learn better.  Jamaica urgently needs a National School Nutrition Policy to combat the rise of NCDs and…
27 May 2022

Better behaviour is “a piece of cake” at our school

The children you see in the photo have won that cake because as Principal at the Cedar Valley Primary & Infant School, I am trying to encourage good behaviour without the use of corporal punishment. What we are trying to do is to signal as clearly as possible to a child that yes, they are progressing educationally from their starting points in…, Boosting children’s motivation and socialization, Incentives are effective because children love to be treated, feel a sense of belonging and they also like to compete. We believe that competing teaches a child how to behave whenever they win or lose and that helps in their socialization. Currently, our grade two class is head and shoulders above the rest, but our infants are trying very hard to…, Inspired by UNICEF-NCEL Child-Friendly Schools course, How it all came about is that before COVID-19 we had a chart displayed on the notice board with stickers that were placed on it daily. The class(es) that met the criteria mentioned before would receive a sticker. The class that achieves the most stickers at the end of each month would receive a prize. Our present grade two teacher Mrs. Ruddock-…, Helping children recover from learning loss, One boy from grade two was awarded  Most Outstanding in Mathematics  even though he did not access teaching and learning for an entire year during COVID-19. We had been trying to get in touch with him. When he came back in February, Mrs. Ruddock-Murray was worrying about how he would do academically. However, because of his self-discipline and his…, Inclusiveness, listening to students is a must, If the incentive system is inclusive, then this kind of spirit can be infectious for a student body. As Mrs. Ruddock-Murray puts it, “Students are filled with so much joy to win prizes and they also cheer for their fellow classmates to be the next to get a prize!” Another thing is that at the upper level of primary school, educators must be…, Teachers are embracing it and I am as a father, As a school, we are still not where we want to be, but we are getting somewhere. It’s obvious that the teachers have been embracing the initiative, because they are rotating the names and successfully encouraging others even those that have been undisciplined in the past. Many of our students are now getting gifts at the end of each week for being…