Innovative response to wellbeing crisis in schools
Disruptions to learning and school connection caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated a wellbeing crisis in Australian schools. The Song Room responded by developing Kaleidoscope.
Kaleidoscope is an industry leading, in-school arts and wellbeing program that incorporates trauma-informed teaching practice and social and emotional learning pedagogies to address mental health issues facing students. It was delivered to over 9,000 students in 100 Victorian primary schools in partnership with the Victorian Department of Education and Training as part of the Positive Start in 2022 initiative.
“This program not only supported students, it got teachers up and dancing again. The joy spread from the students to everyone, our whole community.”
– Teacher, VIC
As soon as applications for the program opened it was clear that there was an urgent need to support schools in this space. One principal reported that, “data from the last two years shows since COVID-19 we’ve had a 60% increase in students accessing Mental Health Plans due to depression, anxiety, self-harm.”
Another says that, “absenteeism is a particular problem in our earlier years, for students who never really had an opportunity to engage with school on campus during the pandemic due to social and technological disadvantage.” Other challenges included increased rates of student bullying and students being behind in their social and emotional development.
Led by expert Teaching Artists, the 10-week program uses an evidence-based approach to work with students with complex needs. Students are supported through the arts to reconnect with their learning environment and build confidence.
One school participated in a program with an African drumming focus. Students were required to listen, cooperate and work together in groups. Learning simple drumming patterns also helped students gain a sense of achievement and experience success in their learning. The classroom teacher described the changes observed in the students, “It was brilliant! Their level of engagement, focus and enthusiasm for Performing Arts lifted.” Staff also saw a marked improvement in students’ willingness to try new things, to participate and to work together.
“Prior to the program we had many students with regulation challenges and who found teamwork challenging. We believe their involvement in Kaleidoscope really helped with this and put them back on a trajectory more similar to pre-pandemic students.”
– Teacher, VIC
Teaching Artists, teachers, students and principals all reported that the greatest gift of the program was the immense joy, fun and hope the program injected into their schools. It provided schools with inclusive ways to celebrate, reconnect, recover and rebuild relationships and culture after COVID.
For more case studies on The Song Room programs in 2022, check out The Song Room’s 2022 Year in Review.