Better Buddies at Hepburn Primary School

Above: Hepburn Primary's new Friendship Seat

Better Buddies at Hepburn Primary School

Hepburn Primary School has incorporated the Better Buddies program into their school curriculum for the past 12 years. Glenda Young, the school's Better Buddies Coordinator shares with us their story.

We began our journey with the Alannah & Madelaine Foundation and the Better Buddy Program in 2007.  I attended a meeting at the Daylesford Town Hall run by the local "Chill Out Festival" group who in conjunction with the Shire had made the decision to support the Better Buddy Program in all the local schools. 

At first I think I was sceptical, but listening to the presenters I suddenly realised that this group was actually offering ideas, plans and policies which were very much attuned to what we were already trying to put in place in a small way in our rural school at Hepburn.

We had a "buddy" program in place for our new prep students to have a big buddy in the senior school.  While this was working well it was really just the start and we were limited in our ideas as to where to go from there. We played with ideas based on "Better Buddies" until we found the perfect fit for Hepburn Primary.

Now, every prep student entering Hepburn is allocated a big buddy for the whole year, new students in  Year 1 and 2 also have a big buddy and all other students in between have buddies on key activity days.

Senior students are matched carefully to our incoming preps in the November of the year preceding their prep year.  Meeting our buddies is an important part of our transition program.

Students look forward to being an older buddy and little ones love the security that the program gives them. Parents love it as they have an extra person to celebrate achievements with and staff love it as the older buddy can often help the younger student deal with issues before they blow-out.

The Better Buddies program has grown and extended with each year we have been involved.  We now have buddy reading each Friday, Buddy art / craft / and sport activities as well as special activities during the year, such as book week etc.  At Christmas time we have a special buddy thankyou day, which is very special but this time it is for the big buddies.

The culture change is evident within the school, and teaches the kids they are able to help each other learn appropriate behaviours and attitudes. 

Big buddies show pride in their school community and little buddies learn this from the start. It has a wonderful flow-on effect throughout the school.

Friendship seat

In 2012 we had finally moved into our new classrooms and it was suggested we fill a very blank corner of the new building with a special Friendship seat.  We commissioned local artist and wrought iron specialist David to build the seat to fit the exact spot.  David worked with the students showing them how he worked, and getting them to give him ideas.  The outcome was fantastic and the seat takes pride of place on our new decked area. 

This will be a special memento to students when they look back or even better revisit their old school in years to come.

Better Buddies
Better Buddies