Promoting students’ safety and wellbeing: ethical practice in schools

Anne Graham, Antonia Canosa, Tess Boyle, Tim Moore, Nicola Taylor, Donnah Anderson, Sally Robinson

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Abstract

Although ‘child safety’ is now a national policy priority in Australia, there is little research exploring the practices in schools that contribute to children and young people’s felt sense of safety and wellbeing. Drawing on a mixed-method Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery project, this article presents findings from interviews with school staff (N = 10), leaders (N = 5) and nine focus groups with students (N = 58), in primary and secondary schools in three Australian states (New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia). We employ relational ethics, recognition theory and the theory of practice architectures to explore practices at school that support student wellbeing and safety. The findings contribute significantly to understanding the ‘bundled’ nature of current practices and the conditions that enable and constrain these. Close attention to these findings is critical as schools seek to operationalise the National Child Safe Principles and refine ongoing safeguarding procedures. The findings have informed the development of an online survey that is currently testing, on a much larger scale, which elements of ethical practice are most positively associated with students’ safety, wellbeing and recognition at school.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Educational Researcher
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Aug 2022

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