The Stewart House Program is designed to provide children with…

As NSW Public Education’s Charity of Choice, Stewart House is a not-for-profit organisation based at Curl Curl on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.  Stewart House was formed 90 years ago by the NSW Departments of Education and Health in collaboration with the NSW Teachers Federation. Since 2009, the organisation has been governed by an independent Board of Directors who administer the Stewart House program across the entire site including health, education and residential facilities.

 

Stewart House Program

RATIONALE

The Stewart House Program, which includes the school and residential components is underpinned by the Stewart House Wellbeing Framework. The Stewart House Program integrates a curriculum, used by teachers and supervisors alike, that is based upon trauma informed practice, student engagement and a strengths- based approach. Quality teaching practices and research-based teaching and learning pedagogies are an integral part of the program that is delivered.

The following diagram provides an overview of the Stewart House Program and illustrates the relationship with the Stewart House Wellbeing Framework.

Health Screening and Self-care skills are provided to ensure students receive preventative health care to enable positive health outcomes into the future.

Healthy, Safe and Active Experiences relate to the extent to which students feel physically safe and healthy. It includes nutrition, physical activity and physical safety and security.

Social and Emotional Learning are interrelated:

  • Social learning includes the extent to which we experience positive relationships and connectedness to others. It is important for pro-social behaviour and our empathy toward others;
  • Emotional learning relates to self-awareness and emotional regulation. It includes how well we cope, and is often reflected by the level of a person’s resilience. Emotional wellbeing is in part informed by our capacity for self-reflection.

Experiential learning provides students with off-site activities and is key to developing experiences in which to apply the skills taught inside classrooms and cabins and to receive feedback from students in a comfortable, in-formal and safe environment.

The relationships fostered between children and staff are key to the skills being able to be taught – students are more receptive and retain more. A planned approach with clear and predictable boundaries and consequences and scope for choice, is essential in establishing a safe environment for learning.

The delivery of concepts and skills within the program are modified to suit the context of particular individuals and groups. This ensures the same outcomes are attained by all students progressing at different levels of learning.

STUDENT OUTCOMES

At the end of the 12-day program students should be able to:

OUTCOME 1 – Participate in healthy, safe and active experiences

OUTCOME 2 – Label emotions, identify their own emotions, regulate emotions using three basic strategies

OUTCOME 3 – Understand themselves and their interactions with their environment

OUTCOME 4 – Build appropriate social connections

Stewart House Wellbeing Framework

The Stewart House Wellbeing Framework includes Physical Wellbeing and Social and Emotional Wellbeing. Students participating in the Stewart House Program will experience screening, teaching and experiential learning opportunities to reinforce learned skills in the outlined areas. The concepts we teach children come from this developmental framework and are built from the basics to the more complex according to need. Skills are embedded within the program with the intention that students are able to draw upon and utilise them after upon their return to school.

PHYSICAL WELLBEING

General Health

  • Screen, treat or refer in regards to:
    • teeth
    • sight
    • hearing
    • skin and hair
    • Body Mass Index

Self-care

  • Develop personal skills including:
    • general hygiene with emphasis on oral hygiene
    • sun protection,
    • dressing appropriately

Activity and Safety

  • Engage in structured and unstructured exercise and play
  • Understand personal safety

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING

Connecting with Others:

  • Improve social skills
  • Develop connections to form positive relationships
  • Provide pathways to seek help
  • Develop help seeking skills

Self-Awareness

  • Understand personal strengths and weaknesses, feelings, thoughts and actions (internal)
  • Recognise effect of actions on others (external)

Emotional Regulation:

  • Develop resilience and self-control
  • Build capacity to manage emotions by:
    • labelling thoughts and emotions
    • using regulation strategies

Student Placement Process

Stewart House invites public school students from across NSW and the ACT to participate in a 12-day residential program. Our Student Placement Officer manages this process in consultation with our Student Wellbeing Managers (clinical psychologists), Residential Programs Manager and School Principal. Most importantly, we rely on the sound judgement of referring Principals as to whether students will benefit from the program.

THE ROLE OF PRINCIPALS

Principals are essential to ensuring that public school children are appropriately placed into the Stewart House Program.  We rely on your knowledge of schools and students. A Principal also acts as Area Co-ordinator to arrange transport and supervision of children to and from Stewart House at the local level. Their voluntary actions ensure that student participation in our program is at no cost to parents or carers.

Referrals

Comprehensive referral information is sent to Principals each year and current information is available by contacting the Stewart House Student Placement Officer.

Enrolment Process

The state-wide allocation of places at Stewart House has been built on an equity-based model using school enrolment numbers and other relevant factors.  Stewart House is limited to accommodating 84 students each fortnight. We want to add value to your students’ skillsets across their stay and, to this end, you may be asked to provide additional information about your students in order for their individual needs to be met.

Please note that the more information we have up-front about your student’s circumstances and behaviours, the better we will be able to provide appropriate care.

Enrolments will only be considered after the home school Principal has confirmed that the nomination is in accordance with Stewart House guidelines, has agreed to support the student throughout the stay and has provided us with mobile contact details.

Schools must only use the most recent version of our enrolment forms. In recent times, both the Health and Education policy has changed in relation to permissions and privacy and these are reflected in our current documents.  Schools attempting to process student information using old forms will have these returned for update and placements will not be guaranteed.

THE ENROLMENT PROCESS

Annually

In August/September each year, Stewart House publishes a calendar offering placement to NSW public schools within the 43 PPA Areas and the ACT across the next school year.

Three months prior to your visit

The Stewart House Student Placement Officer (SPO) contacts Area Co-ordinators at least three months before the Area’s scheduled visit. (Timings can change when school holidays fall within the placement cycle. The Co-ordinator receives:

1. An individualised timeline for referrals together with deadlines that need to be met.

2. Confirmation that all schools within the Area have received the current enrolment documents and guidelines

3. An undertaking that the Stewart House SPO and Wellbeing Managers will be available for support through the process

At the Area level

The Co-ordinator manages the placement process to ensure that equal numbers of boys and girls according to Area allocation arrive safely on the first Monday of their 12-day stay and the same are returned to home schools on the Friday of the next week. Co-ordinators:

  • arrange transport for the forward and return journeys for students and supervising staff from within your Area
  • contact Principals / Schools to ensure they are using the most up-to-date enrolment forms and that they are aware of your timeline for lodgement of information
  • collect and collate the STEWART HOUSE STUDENT REFERRAL FORM (4 pages) sent to all schools under separate cover and to be completed by the home school Principal
  • check that these forms are completed with sufficient detail to inform the placement process
  • advise Principals as to the results of this placement process and request that they assist in the completion of the Student Health Information (Parent) Form (available below for download), within the recommended timeframes
  • collect and check the completed health and permission forms – all details must be included together with appropriate signatures. Supplementary health/behaviour/legal documentation should also be included at this stage.
  • collate and return all forms to Stewart House together with a list of students and completed travel itinerary
  • ensure that each school is aware of the travel requirements for their students and that you will co-ordinate replacements for students who may be not able to attend
  • remind schools of the need to ensure parents/carers send their children with the necessary requirements for the trip to Stewart House – food, medications etc
  • liaise with Stewart House staff after forms are processed to provide additional student personal information or group travel information.

 

SUPERVISION OF STUDENTS TRAVELLING TO AND FROM STEWART HOUSE  

Escorts (Department of Education personnel accompanying children to and from Stewart House) are also a vital component of the Stewart House program.  Co-ordinators must ensure that there is adequate supervision (as per NSW Department of Education guidelines) provided to minimise risk and to manage any unforeseen circumstances on the journey.

Any medication which needs to be administered throughout the student’s 12-day stay needs to be handed from the parent/carer to the escort on the day of travel.  The escort must manage this process and document what was dispensed, when and to whom. Stewart House staff will ensure escorts have appropriate medications for the return journey.

Escorts should ensure they take custody of these medications in addition to those for Asthma and Allergy (Epipens), dispense as required and ensure safe transfer to Stewart House personnel on arrival.

Escorts should also be in receipt of any Health Management Plans (Anaphylaxis, Allergy, Asthma) pertinent to the student’s travel and hand these to Stewart House personnel on arrival.

Parents/carers should be reminded to safely pack other medications in the student’s luggage not accessible by the student during travel.  Students should be reminded that Stewart House personnel will expect them to hand in all medications on arrival for checking, safe storage and dispensing across the 12-day stay.

Escorts should ensure that medications in their safekeeping are handed back to parents/carers on arrival at home destinations. (Escorts should be aware that some of these may be restricted expensive prescriptions that may not be reissued should they not be handed back at the time of the child’s exit from the train or bus).

Student Comfort

The Co-ordinator, with knowledge of the duration of travel, should remind home school Principals to ensure parents/carers provide food for their child for the forward journey. Escorts should ensure travel sickness bags are available for use by students who may be unwell.

Students should be advised that money, smartphones, iPods etc applied to entertainment on long journeys will be securely stored at Stewart House for the duration of the program and only given back to them for the return journey.

As a general rule, Stewart House will provide food for the return journey home if the expected arrival time is beyond 1.00pm

Contingency planning

Escorts should be advised that the Stewart House Student Placement Officer or Residential Programs Manager will contact them en route (on the mobile phone number provided in source documents) to confirm their passenger list and expected arrival times.

Stewart House will send a text message to home school Principals and parents/carers confirming safe passage only after all children have arrived at Stewart House on Day 1 of the program. Co-ordinators should ensure Escorts have sufficient information to advise any known travel delays to parents or carers (via Co-ordinators, Home School Principals, etc). Escorts should also know the local procedures for what to do if no-one is at return location to pick-up a student.

 

Important Updates

1. Our Program is currently operating under COVID Safe-modified capacity (updated: January 2021)

Access to the full set of COVID Safe conditions required to re-open in Term 1 2021, along with the list of scheduled groups,  is available here.

2. A note on the end of an era for clothing collections by The Smith Family (updated: January 2020)

In 2020, The Smith Family ceased its Recycling Operation and will no longer support clothing collections.

Stewart House has worked in partnership with The Smith Family for almost 70 years on clothing drives run in NSW schools. As this longstanding partnership comes to an end, we would like to thank the wider school community for their support over the many years.

As part of our unique arrangement, The Smith Family generously provided bags and undertook the task of collection from schools. Stewart House was then paid for each kilogram received. We were grateful for some $18,000 raised each year from this collection.

We sincerely thank The Smith Family for supporting Stewart House and the vital role we play in the lives of children-in-need from public schools. Though we will miss our partnership, we wish The Smith Family every success well into the future.