Jai Morcom's grieving friends.
Jai Morcom's grieving friends.

School's bully policy 'effective'

MULLUMBIMBY High School principal Ian Graham said his school had nothing to hide after the tragic death of student Jai Morcom this year.

Mr Graham called for a review of the school in late October because of the ‘climate at the time’.

“I decided to open up the school,” he said.

These are brave words from a man whose school was besieged by national media when 15-year-old Jai was found unconscious during a schoolyard incident on August 28. He died two days later.

Mr Graham has been principal of the school for three years, and after the death of Jai he wanted to encourage people to talk about practices at the school.

“We needed a sense of direction, and an independent team gives a whole new perspective,” he said.

The incident involving Jai was terrible and a tragedy for all, he said, and things were called into question.

“We were concerned about the accuracy about what was being said about Mullum,” he said.

“An opportunity arose for the school to reflect.”

The review included a panel of the principal, deputy principal, a school development officer, an education director, a teacher from the school, a principal education officer and a parent selected by the P&C Association. The team reflected on the school’s curriculum, teaching practices, discipline and communication.

“The key issue is change,” Mr Graham said.

“Schools need to adapt to the way society is changing.”

Mr Graham said the review team found that the school’s anti-bullying policies were robust and effective.

“We were already implementing a new discipline in the school at the time of Jai’s death,” he said.

Called Positive Behaviour for Learning, the new discipline approach is about ‘everyone being on the same page’ and head teachers being more active in supporting teachers.

The most glowing recommendation from the review team was the high level of parent satisfaction with the way the school communicated.

This is because there was a full-time communication liaison officer employed at the school with government funding because of the low socio- economic status of the school. This funding was dropped in 2009.

“One of the results of Jai’s death was the reinstatement of a community liaison officer,” Mr Graham said.

The Education Minister gave the school an extra deputy and two extra teaching positions until the end of 2010 to support changes in the school.

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