The first days at school can be daunting for new prep students and parents alike. Yet for many students starting school across the country, the transition is supported by having an older buddy to look out for them.
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation's Better Buddies program helps students entering their first year of primary school to feel safe, valued and connected to the school community. The program pairs new primary school students with an older buddy.
We visited Highvale Primary School in Glen Waverley for their first Better Buddies session of the year. The Prep students were quiet as they waited to meet their new buddies, while the Year Six students were bursting with excitement to become their new friends, role-models and carers.
As the pairs worked on an art activity together, the Prep students slowly opened up and became more confident with their older buddies.
Highvale Primary School has adapted the Better Buddies framework to build a vibrant program of activities. On top of the weekly sessions between buddy pairs, students participate in a school-wide Buddy Day each term that engages students across all year levels. These activities are often run by older students, giving them the opportunity to develop confidence through leadership.
A recent student survey showed there is "improved connectedness" between students since the Better Buddies program was introduced.
Thanks to the support of Principal Partner NAB, trusts and foundations, and other community partners, around 2,000 schools across the country are participating in the Better Buddies program.
For more information on Better Buddies, visit www.betterbuddies.org.au or call 1300 341 343.
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