The Panthers on the Prowl Primary Classroom program is the organisation’s ‘flag-ship’ education model and longest running program. This cornerstone program targets students in the middle and late primary years who are at risk of disengaging from school and who may need additional assistance in order to reach their full potential. These students may have issues with self-esteem, lack of resilience or other difficulties around discipline and respect that without effective and targeted early interventions can result in negative developmental and psychological health outcomes.
Research shows that at-risk students who benefit from early and quality interventions in the primary school years are much more likely to maintain a positive developmental course through high school and enjoy improved academic achievement with a minimisation in harmful health-risk behaviours.
To address these issues and to contribute effectively in the prevention of harm for at risk primary students, Panthers on the Prowl partnered with the NSW Department of Education and commenced the Primary Classroom program in 2002. The main objective of the Primary program is to provide a comprehensive range of research-based opportunities for our students to undertake social, emotional, and psychological learning. The program offers students the chance to develop strategic practical skills with real life practice that assists students in understanding and building protective factors in the face of potential developmental risk and harm factors that school disengagement presents.
The focus of the Primary Classroom Program is to build self-esteem, socials skills, resilience and leadership in the students who participate. The content and process of the Primary Classrooms lessons are embedded in Dr Martin Seligman’s theoretical Positive Education Model that focus’ on developing; Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement. Under the guidance of the Prowl’s specialist qualified teacher and teacher’s aide, daily lessons involve; fitness activities, mindfulness sessions and reflective journaling. In addition to these daily practices, lessons contain core elements from established best practice programs from; DRUMBEAT, Rock & Water, Peaceful Kids and Bounce Back! Within this differentiated teaching framework, lesson delivery occurs within various curriculum areas such as PDHPE, Science, and the Visual and Creative arts. The Primary program lessons also have a strong emphasis on community involvement and the participation of Penrith Panthers Rugby League players, which significantly enhances student engagement and motivation.
In its practical implementation, the Primary Classroom program observes normal school terms and runs over the school calendar – five days a week. Students selected for the program attend each day for half a day over a school term with stage 2 primary students attending in the morning and stage 3 students in the afternoon. Each class is made up of 10 students from schools participating in each term. The stage 3 primary program also aims to equip students with a wide variety of social skills in readiness for the all-important transition to high school where risk factors for disengagement can often intensify.
Schools are able to access the Primary Classroom program by submitting applications for students to the Principal of Cambridge Gardens PS. The selection panel meetings take place at the beginning of Term 4 each year. The selection panel identifies and prioritises students at risk of becoming disengaged from school. Students may be demonstrating low self-esteem, social issues or emerging behavioural concerns that may place them at risk of harm. The panel considers information provided by their school learning support teams that identifies students as appropriate for tier 2 targeted intervention.
Nomination forms for students to join the program are available from the Principal, Cambridge Gardens Public School.
The Panthers on the Prowl – Primary Classroom program is coordinated and administered by Primary Teacher Lawrence McDonell, assisted by Learning Support Officer, Venetia Lovett.
For more information feel free to contact Lawrence at Panthers on the Prowl (02) 4725 6478 or at Cambridge Gardens Public School – (02) 4730 1201.