Do you remember what it was like on your first day at a new school? Do you remember your first day at intermediate or even your first day at secondary school?
Young people beginning a new school, starting intermediate or secondary school often feel left out and scared among new people. They need friendships that will build their confidence and sense of belonging and they need to become familiar with new ways of learning.
On Wednesday 29 January, our 510 Year 7 to 9 juniors were introduced to the Peer Support programme by their Peer Support Homeroom Year 13 leaders.
The Peer Support programme, Te Ako Tautoko Akonga, is a personal development programme for junior students, led by senior students. Last November, 70 senior students attended a 1 ½ days training to become Peer Support leaders who will help younger students develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to get along with people around them. The result is a network of personal support for junior students at Sacred Heart College. Additionally, 6 staff were also trained last November, as Peer support staff leaders, who provide ongoing and regular support for the senior students throughout the year. Juniors will see their Peer Support leaders once a week during Thursday Homeroom.
Why Offer Peer Support?
The Peer Support programme develops communication and relationship skills. The programme is based on the understanding that people absorb information and beliefs from one another. Other students and friends can be a positive influence on those around them, building self-awareness, strengthening relationships and decision-making.
However, negative pressure from other students can weaken these skills and lead some students into behaviours that are risky or harmful.
The changing population of Aotearoa New Zealand means that students must find their place in an increasingly varied mix of cultures. To build positive relationships they must recognize and respect the culture, beliefs and practices that are important to other students.
Peer Support helps to develop a school where all people are valued by encouraging strong links between senior and junior students. The programme improves understanding and communication between students and builds friendships that help them settle into a new school, providing opportunities where students learn about one another.
The programme gives senior students real responsibility in caring and leading others. Through the training and the programme, senior students develop relationship and leadership skills that are of great benefit to them, to their school and to society. Peer Support leaders are awarded a training and practice certificate for their work apart from the intrinsic reward of knowing that they have contributed significantly to growing a positive school community.
SHC Peer Support Coordinators
Nua Silipa & Stephanie Ioka