Building Friendship Skills

28 April 2023


Relationships. They’re at the heart of everything we do at St Andrew’s. We know that when we get these right, students flourish.

However, even as adults, we know that relationships and friendships can be tough to navigate at times.

There is growing recognition of the fact that the school environment plays a major role in the social and emotional competence and well-being of children, and that the building of resilience is fundamental to them achieving their personal best.

This year in the Primary School, we have partnered with URStrong, to teach and empower students with the skills, language, and self-confidence to be better friends and develop healthier relationships.

Primary School Learning Leader- Pastoral Care, Sam Ellis identified this need specifically within the Primary School, and has been the driving force behind implementing the URStrong program to help foster and maintain a positive social climate where students take responsibility for creating respectful relationships.

“We want for our students to feel empowered and confident within themselves and their friendships,” Mr Ellis said.

“We are a Primary School which focuses on the positives within situations and teaching our students friendship skills and how to handle difficult situations yet still create a positive outcome is something we see great value in.”

One goal in implementing URStrong is for students to have a greater awareness of who they are as individuals and what values within friendships they see as being important.

Mr Ellis said part of that is realising that no friendship is perfect and that it is important for students to understand this and have realistic expectations of themselves and their friendships.

This includes learning how to make friends, maintain friendships, have tough conversations, identify healthy and unhealthy relationships, stand up for yourself, how to put out friendship fires, how to identify ‘mean-on-purpose’ behaviour and what to do and more; all important skills they’ll carry into adulthood.

“We want to give students the confidence to have tough conversations with friends and be able to solve ‘friendship fires’ themselves. This is a skill we are wanting our students to feel capable of doing with minimal teacher or parent intervention,” Mr Ellis said.

“Teachers and parents are ultimately to be seen as the ‘coach’, giving guidance and support when needed but it is up to the students to do the heavy lifting and work through the sometimes difficult conversations. The more they do this, the easier it becomes.

“It is important because as we live in an ever changing world, some key things remain the same. For students to have confidence within themselves and their friendship skills is vital.

“These are skills for life and to be able to solve problems when they arise in a calm, thoughtful and considered manner, aiming for a positive outcome, is something we see being greatly important for our students. The language used throughout is unique but very student friendly and easy for students to engage with.”

These are skills that are going to need to be continually worked on and addressed by our students. It is going to take time to have all of the students confident and familiar with the language and approach but the journey will be a positive one and the end result for our students is well worth the effort.

Queries can be directed to Sam Ellis, via sellis@saac.qld.edu.au

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