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Principal speaks: Empowering positive change

Elanora State High School Principal Rochelle Lewis & HOD Wellbeing & Engagement Michelle Hewison, discuss the school's response to vaping

In today’s educational landscape, addressing complex issues like student vaping requires more than just disciplinary actions. It demands a proactive and collaborative approach that prioritises student wellbeing and fosters a positive learning environment.

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At Elanora State High School (ESHS), our journey towards tackling vaping incidents has been marked by innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to student empowerment. Through our Vaping Intervention Program, integrated within the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) framework, we’ve not only reduced vaping incidents but also equipped students with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices.

A philosophical shift

Four years ago, ESHS embarked on a journey of philosophical change, moving away from punitive disciplinary measures towards proactive behaviour management strategies. Recognising the limitations of traditional approaches such as suspension for vaping-related offenses, we sought to understand the root causes of such behaviours. This shift emphasised the importance of collaboration among staff, students, and the community, highlighting the need for a unified approach in fostering a positive school culture.

Understanding the complexity of vaping behaviour

Initially, punitive measures like suspension were employed for vaping incidents, but they proved ineffective in addressing the underlying issues. This highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of vaping behaviour and its impact on adolescent development. By shifting our perspective to focus on the addictive nature of vaping and its effects on students, we transitioned towards a more supportive and educational approach. This change underscored the importance of addressing the root causes of behaviour rather than merely punishing the symptoms.

Involving Stakeholders

Central to the success of our approach is the collaboration among stakeholders – staff, students, and the wider community. This collaborative effort ensures that interventions are tailored to meet the specific needs of our school community and have widespread support. By involving students in decision-making processes and empowering them to take ownership of their learning and wellbeing, we’ve created a culture of responsibility and accountability.

school campus
Image supplied by Elanora State High School

The Three Tiers of Support: A Comprehensive Approach

The Vaping Intervention Program operates across three tiers of support within the PBL framework. Tier 1 focuses on universal interventions implemented school-wide, including vaping education and awareness campaigns. Tier 2 provides targeted support for students at risk of engaging in vaping behaviour, offering personalised interventions to address their specific needs. Finally, Tier 3 interventions cater to students with the most intensive needs, ensuring they receive the necessary support to overcome challenges.

Prevention and Education

One of the key strengths of our approach is its emphasis on proactive measures. Rather than waiting for incidents to occur, we actively educate students about the dangers of vaping and equip them with the necessary skills to make informed choices. This preventative approach not only reduces vaping incidents but also fosters a culture of responsibility and accountability among students.

Tangible Outcomes

The success of the Vaping Intervention Program is evident in the tangible outcomes observed at ESHS. Incidents of student vaping have significantly decreased, alongside related issues such as vandalism in school toilets. Importantly, students who have engaged in the vaping education program have not repeated their offenses, highlighting the effectiveness of the proactive interventions implemented.

television interview
Image supplied by Elanora State High School

Sharing Success Nationwide

As a testament to our commitment to student wellbeing, ESHS has shared its successful strategies with more than 50 schools across Australia. By collaborating with Queensland Health and external providers, we’ve become a beacon for schools nationwide seeking effective strategies to address similar challenges. Our dedication to fostering a supportive environment has earned recognition from the local council, further highlighting the impact of our collaborative efforts.

Elanora State High School’s Vaping Intervention Program represents a comprehensive and innovative approach to addressing complex behavioural issues in educational settings. Through collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to student empowerment, we’ve not only reduced vaping incidents but also equipped students with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices. As we continue our journey towards promoting student wellbeing, we remain committed to proactive intervention and collaborative approaches, believing that together, we can make a positive difference in the lives of our students and the wider community.

School News

School News is not affiliated with any government agency, body or political party. We are an independently owned, family-operated magazine.

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