Change takes time and there are many competing demands. These steps help schools and health services work together to create tailored approaches for each school.
The first focus area for Tūturu is alcohol and other drugs, but the approach works for many wellbeing areas.
Begin your journey by establishing a leadership team of eight to ten people. We will call this your “Tūturu Team” on this page. Make sure you include a cross-section of your school’s staff – people who hold different parts of the curriculum, people with pastoral support responsibilities, and someone who can effectively coordinate action.
Your team should be led by a staff member who has decision-making power in your school environment.
Partnering with either an alcohol and other drug or public health service provider will build your community’s confidence in what you are doing. It will also help that service provider to understand the challenges your school is facing – helping them better meet students’ needs. These health services are involved in Tūturu:
Create the conditions for this team to think and act purposefully to improve student wellbeing and develop students’ critical thinking skills.
Your Tūturu Team’s first task is to build an understanding of your starting place – mapping what is happening currently for your school and its students.
The reflection tool can assist this process. This reflection tool can be completed in different ways (e.g. in a small group, surveying or discussing it with all staff). Keep in mind, the discussion is the most valuable part. This is where the difference between what policies and procedures say should happen, and what actually happens, will surface.
You can use multiple sources of information – such as the Wellbeing@School survey, or focus groups with students and their families – to build a more accurate picture. But don’t stop the discussions because of a lack of data.
At this stage of your journey, building momentum is more important than gathering highly accurate information – so keep progressing your Tūturu Team conversations.
Capture all the ideas and potential actions that emerge during your discussions. Later, begin to prioritise. What is feasible this year? Align your priorities with other strategic plans, like the school charter. This will connect your work with a bigger vision and build buy-in from your school ecosystem – helping you progress smoothly.
In Aotearoa, our secondary school students tend to receive retrospective education from pastoral care staff after an incident – supporting them to develop the values and competencies they needed before the incident occured.
Build connections between your teaching and pastoral care staff. Foster collaboration around a shared purpose: equipping young people with the skills they need to make their way in a world where alcohol and other drugs exist.
Your school’s statement of delivery of health education can be a helpful starting point. Use the statement builder and community consultation resources to if your statement needs updating.
Intentionally teaching values and competencies within the curriculum helps all students develop critical thinking skills, make healthy decisions, and improve their wellbeing.
Early on in your school’s Tūturu journey, there are two things that all school staff will need to know. One – the school has a long-term vision to improve student wellbeing and critical thinking skills. Two – what staff need to do to support this vision.
Professional development for all staff is an effective way to build understanding on both fronts. There are a range of resources which have been created in partnership with health and education experts in our resource hub. These professional development resources ask team members to: reflect on their own attitudes and biases; progressively engage with evidence-based information; develop their understanding that student wellbeing is something they can contribute to; and establish that navigating decisions around alcohol and other drugs is a critical part of student wellbeing.
Help staff feel confident within their scope of practice by having clearly documented pathways, regularly discussing these, and training staff in the skills they require.
Teachers unlock youth development through their role as an educator and can talk about issues with attendance and achievement with students. Pastoral staff deepen the learning by helping students bring their whole self into the conversation. As needed, specialist staff (counsellors and external services) help students make changes.
An introduction to youth development and youth-relevant facts about alcohol and other drugs
How to facilitate classroom activities that include alcohol and other drugs as a learning context
How to let students know you've noticed changes (creating your school's pathway for support)
Having worked through the four foundational phases, you will now choose where to focus. Where is there energy? Strategic alignment? A willingness to collaborate for change? What’s the next logical step?
This phase is cyclical, building on itself. Keep going and make time for purposeful thought and action so you can reflect, identify opportunities to develop your approach, and focus on the next step which will lead to your vision.
Take a look at the focus areas below. These aren’t linear steps, they are activities that feed, weave, and strengthen a collaborative approach to student wellbeing.
Creating your approach in collaboration with students ensures its relevance, and helps your taiohi develop leadership, collaboration, facilitation, communication, and strategy skills. Increasing student participation, connectedness, and contribution also helps reduce substance abuse (Fletcher, Bonell, & Hargreaves, 2008).
There are lots of ways to get your students involved in your work. Maybe your Tūturu Team could work with students to develop a wellbeing framework for your school – identifying what young people need from school in order to live a healthy and successful life, and the actions the school can take to help? Perhaps student leaders could be supported to run workshops with their classmates exploring, validating, and refining these ideas? Are there out of class activities which students could co-create, or participate in?
Whānau can tend to feel like schools only really attempt to connect with them when there are problems. Additionally, some families struggle to engage with school consultation processes, because so much has changed from what they experienced as young people. Helping families to understand what is taught and how is an opportunity to shift these dynamics. You can use this short video to help you communicate with whānau about how health education is delivered – in particular, the focus on developing student’s critical thinking. There are also supporting resources to help you involve whānau in the consulting process.
Find ways to engage whānau in your conversations about student wellbeing and alcohol and drugs. What are their wishes? What needs are they seeing in their young people? How would they like to see the school support taiohi? Where are there opportunities to work together?
Provide opportunities to develop students’ critical thinking skills using learning contexts that reflect their lives. This gives them transferable skills to make sense of what they see and hear.
Alcohol and other drug education in schools often features external presenters running one-off sessions. Presentations that focus on the extreme harm substances can cause are ineffective and can actually compound issues for students (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2017). Students may write off the information entirely when they fail to immediately experience the extreme effects from substance use; raise their threshold for seeking support; or focus on the redemptive side of the horror stories. These sessions do not prepare a young person to make healthy decisions about alcohol and other drugs.
Students learn through progressive exposure to new ideas and skills. The more opportunities that are provided, the easier the students will find it to connect what they learn in the classroom with their outside lives. Students whose out of school environment doesn’t help them learn the values and competencies in the curriculum will need more opportunities to learn this at school.
Recognising this, we worked with teachers to create English, Mathematics, Geography, and Health teaching and assessment resources. These resources help teachers communicate between departments to develop integrated learning opportunities for students, while still focusing on the competencies required in each subject.
This integrated approach also shows young people that the topic of alcohol and other drugs is safe to talk about with school staff – increasing the likelihood they will turn to school-based support if they need it.
There will be students in your school who are using alcohol and drugs in ways that are likely to cause them significant – and possibly long-term – harm. Getting them support as soon as possible will help them remain engaged in education.
We have professional development and quick reference resources to help schools form an aligned support pathway for students needing help. Students experience the support of multiple staff, progressively deepening conversations, and choice around the actions they can take to help them make changes.
Mapping your school’s support pathways can be a good starting point.
Sometimes, support from a professional treatment provider is needed – so it’s important local organisations are part of your school’s wellbeing ecosystem. We have four short online modules for external health providers playing this role. The modules help the provider learn to communicate with the school, and understand how to go about setting up a school-based support team – ensuring that students are supported by at least one person at school who knows what is going on.
Occasionally, students will make poor choices – such as bringing alcohol or other drugs to school. These incidents often result in a disciplinary pathway. The standdown, suspension, exclusion, and expulsion protocols were developed in an old era of schooling, where it was believed that these sanctions would change behaviour. Despite little evidence that this works – and the simple fact that New Zealand prisons
are filled with people who have a history of exclusion or expulsion from mainstream education – drug use remains one of the most common reasons for an exclusion or expulsion from school (Ministry of Education, 2019).
How we respond to student substance use has profound impact. Removing a student from education, labelling them a drug user, forcing them to change schools or go to alternative education disengages the student from the protective factors that schools provide – and removes opportunities for them to learn and develop.
Tūturu aims to keep students in school, engaged in learning. Our approach helps staff use incidents as intentional learning opportunities – building on the student’s prior curriculum-based learning. You can use the Tūturu support plan template to help students reflect on their wellbeing and think critically about the situation using frameworks they already learnt in class.
Positive spare-time activities are protective and can build young people’s resilience (Gilligan, 2000). Unfortunately, the students who could benefit the most from the wellbeing boost that these activities provide often face significant barriers to engaging in them. In addition, access to these activities is often the first thing to go following a breach of school rules. This is the very time when taiohi most need structured activity, and opportunities to connect positively with a different set of peers.
Offer a range of out of class activities – and ensure that vulnerable students retain some opportunities to engage beyond the classroom. This builds a positive school environment and supports student wellbeing.
Embedding a holistic approach in your school will take time. Remember, changes build on each other, so keep:
These are some of the changes you may see in your school during the first few years, versus those that will build over time.
Short term changes (1-2 years)
Longer term changes (3-7+years)
The school and board of trustees will:
School pastoral teams will:
Service providers will:
Some parents and whānau will:
The school and board of trustees will:
All students will:
Service providers will:
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