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A new project by researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Perth, Western Australian (WA), has shown that 'at-risk' children are more likely to successfully transition to secondary school if they take part in support programs during upper primary school.
The Happy kids project was conducted by Professor Gary Partington, a researcher at ECU, in conjunction with the WA Department of Education and WA Department of Health.
The project was trialled in nine schools across regional and metropolitan WA over a five-year period, and used focus groups to help students connect with each other during the transition period from late primary to early secondary school.
'At-risk' students of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds were chosen for these focus groups, which met regularly during school time, and were led by a school coordinator with role models, such as the head boy or girl, participating as group members.
Professor Partington said participating students showed a substantial increase in social and emotional wellbeing.
'Many of the participating students come from troubled backgrounds which could negatively impact their education,' Professor Partington said. 'Findings show that students who were able to connect with each other through the Happy kids program came out the other end as happier, more confident students.'
Other findings for the project included:
Happy kids co-founder and coordinator, Narell Black, said she believes the program should become an essential part of the school curriculum.
'This program is now embedded in the curriculum of the participating schools and I could not imagine teaching without it. The ECU research backs up all the anecdotal evidence over the last thirteen years, proving that schools can and do make a difference,' Ms Black said.
Further information on the Happy kids project can be found by accessing the links below.
Source: Edith Cowan University
Professor Gary Partington
Edith Cowan Univeristy
Ph: (08) 9370 6571
Fax: (08) 9370 6022
Department of Education
Level 1, 151 Royal Street
East Perth WA 6004
Ph: (08) 9264 4660
Fax: (08) 9264 4664