Ambassadors of National Check-in Week

We are passionate about education and encouraging new conversations about student wellbeing.

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Tegan Balyiss

National Check-in Week Ambassador

Head of Wellbeing, St Brigid’s Catholic College

ABC Radio Presenter 0:04
With school students back in the classroom after two years of predominantly online learning, parents and educators are being urged to start conversations about their emotional wellbeing. The National check-in week campaign is providing educators with tools that will provide timely data to help understand student’s state of mind. Tegan Bayliss is a leader of wellbeing at St. Bridget’s Catholic College, at Lake Munmorah on the New South Wales Central Coast, and she says some students have found it difficult returning to the classroom.

Tegan Bayliss 0:36
National checking week allows our students in our classrooms to check-in via a platform, which allows our staff to get a good collection of data, which allows us to make sure that our students are going okay. And when they’re not that we can have those conversations with them. So it’s absolutely critical that we get it in a timely manner, it’s often way too late that we find out that students are struggling. And it’s critical because we need to be able to get students the support they need. And that might mean an array of things through school, but also anything any extra supports that we could have outside of school as well.

ABC Radio Presenter 1:15
And how do you think students are feeling about being back in the classroom after such a disruptive two years due to COVID?

Tegan Bayliss 1:23
Yeah, I think this is a really important and concerning part of where we’re at, I think that some students are actually thriving. And you know, being home was a real struggle and not having that engagement with their friends. And there’s a range of different people, you know, teachers and things like that. And we hear a lot about school being the safe zone for a lot of students, I don’t know that we hear enough maybe about the amount of students that are struggling to get back into the classroom. So a lot of our kids that potentially have anxiety or another form of mental health challenge will find it and have found it really hard. And we’ve seen some students actually not come back into the classroom due to this. So they are there they’re struggling in terms of that, they’re also struggling with the overwhelm classrooms are very different to being in the home by yourself.

ABC Radio Presenter 2:10
What needs to happen, then to help those students with anxiety or other mental health issues, to encourage them to be able to come back into the classroom.

Tegan Bayliss 2:18
So we need to set up a safe environment. And we need to apply wellbeing strategies in classrooms. So now more than ever, it’s really important that we’re using programs or our own skill sets around social-emotional learning, in order to give our kids the skill sets to build that resilience to be in the classroom.

ABC Radio Presenter 2:40
You’re at Lake Munmorah on the New South Wales Central Coast, what are students telling you about their emotional wellbeing needs?

Tegan Bayliss 2:48
I think, definitely, from our perspective, up here on the coast, we have a high, I guess, statistic rate in terms of mental health struggles for us, they’re telling us that they need to have safe people that they can go to. So building that relationship with our students, and giving them safe platforms in order to be able to check-in has been really, really important. I guess that’s the main thing is providing those spaces or check-ins

ABC Radio Presenter 3:16
For parents, what are some of the signs that a student may be struggling?

Tegan Bayliss 3:20
I think this is also a really, really important question. So look, it presents differently. So often, when I’m speaking with parents, sort of things that we’ll hear that would flag for us know, withdrawn, students not wanting to or their children not wanting to be part of the family, they don’t want to talk, they don’t want to come out of their bedroom, potentially, they’re on social media a lot more than they were, they might see signs of potentially different emotions coming out that they hadn’t seen before anger, or just defiance in certain different ways that they hadn’t seen before. They could be as simple as something as I don’t want to go to school today. Or you know what, I’m not wearing the right uniform today. And I know those things. They’re not indicators that we would only use, but sometimes those are indicators, that something is wrong. And it’s actually a really important part of what we then can say, You know what, let’s have a conversation about how you going.

ABC Radio Presenter 4:13
I know that the focus of this week is on young people, but how important is it that teachers are checking in with each other as well, especially after such a tumultuous couple of years?

Tegan Bayliss 4:24
Yeah, this is actually an area really close to my heart. It’s so incredibly important at the moment that we are looking at staff wellbeing, not just our teachers, but our counselors, our support staff, everybody that works within the culture of a school because we’re coming back in, I guess that culture that we would have had moving out into those home-based learning has changed, you know, the world has changed. The way we educate has changed because there are a lot of unknowns and there are lots of unknowns even around, you know, are we going to potentially have to be home-based learning again, is there. And I know that you know, whilst it’s fairly made clear that we won’t be going back into that those are some of the anxieties, I guess, that are presented for staff. Yeah. So I think it’s really, really important that we just not only check in with each other, but we’re checking in, across the system. So, you know, our leadership, and teachers, everybody checking in together and having really, I guess open conversations about how important staff wellbeing is, in order to help our students because we’re not checking in ourselves. We can’t ask our students to do the face.

ABC Radio Presenter 5:31
It’s been a pretty extraordinary couple of years for all involved in teaching at our schools in Australia. Tegan Bayliss, the leader of wellbeing at St Brigid’s Catholic College at Lake Munmorah. That’s on the New South Wales Central Coast.

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Australian Council of State School Organisations

As the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), we represent the interests of the families and communities of more than 2.4 million children attending government schools in Australia. We are one of the oldest continuously operating parent organisations in Australia and possibly the world. We were formed in 1947 to bring together various state and territory parent groups to develop national policies reflecting the way families wanted public education to be offered for their children.


Life Skills Group

Life Skills Group began in 2009 by running in-school programs in metropolitan New South Wales and Victoria. The Life Skills GO online platform began in 2018, created from working hand in hand with more than 850 schools and reaching around 500,000 students nationally to build technology that they need to explicitly teach and measure the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of every student.

Life Skills’ program content is evidence-based, aligned to the Australian Curriculum and each state’s syllabus and its programs have been assessed and approved by BE YOU (Beyond Blue), enabling Life Skills GO to be delivered by teachers in all schools across Australia. The programs have already been successfully used by teachers to minimise bullying and other problem behaviours within the school environment, and to address a range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, in individual students. Students and our schools are currently dealing with a worldwide pandemic in COVID-19 this is where Life Skills Go can now assist the Department of Education to meet the current demands placed on students.

Unlike other SEL products, a major advantage of this online blended learning platform is its capacity to generate reports that measure individual student emotional wellbeing and progress for a range of desired skills such as self awareness and self regulation, resilience, critical thinking, social skills, creativity and collaboration. We can assist with reports on an individual, school, cluster/district or State level.

Life Skills GO has been developed, tested and used in hundreds of schools with great success. Educators and Principals have contributed to the development and evolution of Life Skills GO.

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Mark Lamont

Founder and Director at World Mosaic

Mark Lamont directly influences improvements in learning and teaching for millions of students and teachers worldwide.

Currently on the board at ministerial edtech company, Education Services Australia; non-executive director at ASX-listed global edtech company, 3P Learning; Chair at Australia’s edtech startup industry association, EduGrowth; founder and director at international edtech companies, World Mosaic, mme moe and Yahki; digital strategy advisor to departments and ministries of education.

Formerly, Vice President at Follett Corporation; Casual Academic at the University of NSW; advisor to the NSW Board of Studies (now NESA); academic text author at Random House and Nelson Thomson Learning; Chief Consultant at Encyclopaedia Britannica; edtech advocate to US Congress members; and senior executive at Australia’s first education ISP/ASP, myinternet Limited.

Mr Lamont is one of the most globally connected professionals in education technology. He advises education ministries, corporations, investors and technology entrepreneurs. He has a track record in international market-entry strategy and execution. He is at times engaged as a software and multimedia business start-up coach, learning reform advocate, writer, lobbyist and presenter. Mr Lamont has significant experience in old and new world education market strategy, research and review.

Mr Lamont has played critical strategy, planning and execution roles in high-stakes education and digital transformation initiatives in Canada, Australia, USA, UK, NZ, Myanmar, South Africa, UAE and the Nordics. He has recent and current bases in Australia, USA, UK and the Middle East. Mr Lamont has an advanced capacity to integrate pedagogy, technology, marketing and commercial requirements anywhere in the world. He is renowned for assisting boards and entrepreneurs to see beyond their current products and for assisting education leaders in policy and strategy reform.

Mr Lamont remains active in transformative edtech product ideation, research and development.

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Dr Phil Lambert PSM FACE FACEL

Director, Phil Lambert Consulting Pty Ltd
National President, Australian College of Educators
Adjunct Professor, University of Sydney
Former General Manager, Australian Curriculum at the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and Regional Director of Schools, Sydney

Dr Phil Lambert has extensive experience in education as a school principal; inspector; Executive Director; Assistant Director-General; Regional Director (Schools), Sydney and General Manager, Australian Curriculum where he led the development of Australia’s first national curriculum. He has authored books, presented a number of papers and keynotes at national and international conferences, had a number of articles and occasional papers published in journals and led statewide reviews and reforms. His current book ‘The Knowing and Caring Profession’ is scheduled for release in late 2021. He is an internationally recognised school education expert.

Dr Lambert completed his Doctorate at the University of Sydney where he continues to support the education faculty as Adjunct Professor and as a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s STEM Academy Board. Dr Lambert is also Adjunct Professor at Nanjing Normal University. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators (ACE), National President of ACE and Chair of the ACE Board.

Dr Lambert has received a number of honours and awards. In 2011 he was acknowledged for his outstanding community work and leadership in a unanimous resolution in the Parliament of NSW. In the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours he was awarded the Public Service Medal for his outstanding contribution to education and in 2013 was the recipient of the Australian College of Educators’ award, the Sir Harold Wyndham Medal. He was the 2020 recipient of the NSW Teachers Guild Phyllis Evans Medal.

Dr Lambert is currently supporting curriculum reform efforts in Japan, as expert advisor and researcher for its Innovative Schools Network (ISN) initiative and member of the ISN Advisory Board. He is also Curriculum Expert to the OECD Education 2030 Learning Framework project and was recently engaged by the Education Ministries of The Netherlands, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Lithuania to train senior curriculum, assessment and supervisory policy officers to support the implementation of their respective national curriculum reforms. Dr Lambert has also recently assisted the Brazilian government in the development of its national learning standards, undertaken a review of senior secondary curriculum for the United Arab Emirates, completed a review of Kuwait’s national curriculum and assessment program for UNESCO and the Ministry of Education of Kuwait and provided the World Bank with an analysis of curriculum reforms in 10 ASEAN countries.

Dr Lambert contributes to the community in various ways. He is Deputy Chair of Our Watch, the national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children. In 2016 he was appointed by the Federal Government as a Director on the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and was also appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a member on the Children’s Court Advisory Committee. He is Chair of the National Respectful Relationships Education Expert Group and also Chair of the National Expert Group on the Financial Wellbeing of Young People.

He is currently featured in an exhibition of 50 ‘Positively Remarkable People from Sydney’.

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Lori Schwanbeck

Subject Matter Expert- Psychology and mindfulness-based emotional intelligence

With a background in marketing, positive psychology, and mindfulness practice, Lori brings a unique set of skills and expertise to working with individuals and organizations. She has taught thousands of people in diverse global settings and is known for her ability to foster connection with warmth, humor and authenticity, while inspiring the best in others.

She is a senior faculty member at Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), an organization born at Google, where she mentors and trains teachers, and designs and facilitates both in-person and virtual mindfulness based emotional intelligence programs. Lori recently completed a multi year project in Bhutan working in partnership with the Gross National Happiness initiative bringing SIYLI’s program of mindfulness based emotional intelligence skills to all of Bhutan’s 10,000 teachers. The program was subsequently rolled out to all levels of the Bhutanese government.

Lori also supports diverse organizations build cultures of connection and compassion through customized program design and facilitation. “I’m honored to be an ambassador for National Check-in Week. Letting our children know we are aware of them, that they matter, and giving them a language for and way to be with emotions… not only supports their resilience and surviving during challenging times, it also gives them skills that will support their thriving as adults.”

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Nikki Bonus

Founder and CEO, Life Skills Group

Nikki Bonus is an experienced ed-tech founder and CEO of Life Skills Group, harnessing more than 20 years of deeply personal and professional experience in the development and delivery of social-emotional literacy programs for individuals, organizations, and most importantly, teachers and students. Nikki’s work has helped give voice to more than 850 schools, connecting with 20,000 teachers and 500,000 primary school children to build a continuing evidence base of what works to measure, report and implement real improvements in Social Emotional and Physical Literacy for school communities.

She was one of a 100 CEOs that was invited to participate in the Google – Engage – Search Inside Yourself leadership program, San Francisco, training her to deliver Transformational Professional Development experiences backed by world experts in neuroscience, leadership, mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

Nikki’s intrinsic motivation is to show that no matter where you were born, no matter what family you were born into, anything is possible with the right education.

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Dianne Giblin

Chief Executive Officer: AM
B.Ed (Adult) Dip Mgmt, Family Engagement Consultant

Di has worked in education in both paid and unpaid capacity for the past 32 years.

Di has a passion for education, in particular public education, and the opportunities it affords young people. She has led the ACSSO secretariat since 2011 but has been a significant player in parent activism since 1984 when her eldest child commenced school. She is proud of her four children’s achievements – all successes of public education.

She has held various volunteer roles in the parent movement finishing her P&C career as President of the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW.

Di was a founding Director of Public Education Foundation whose board position she held for six years; a founding Director of Primary Ethics Board and also a founding Director of The Parenthood board.

She worked in a paid capacity for the NSW education department in a number of roles across a large area of Sydney. Her roles were all in the area of parent engagement and home-school partnerships including school-based community officer, across district Community Development Officer and regional Partnership Officer – all through the Priority Schools Program.

Recognition of her work saw her commended for Meritorious Service to Public Education and Training in 2010. In 2012 Dianne was admitted as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her service to public education and the community.

Di’s greatest love is her family but coming a close second is her love of music. Whilst an amateur guitar player she likes to spend downtime with it, her grandchildren and her playing her vinyl albums on the new turntable.

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Sharron Healy

President,  Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO)

Sharron was an active member of her three children’s school Parent Clubs for over 20 years, serving as an ordinary member and president at both primary and secondary levels. She also served on the school council for over 10 years, as a councillor and president.

Sharron has volunteered with Parents Victoria Inc. for 15 years and is currently the president of Parents Victoria, the Victorian member organisation of ACSSO. Founded in 1925 as the peak body representing the collective views of parents in public education in Victoria, Parents Victoria was also a founding member of ACSSO.

Sharron’s interest in promoting and advocating for public education comes from a desire to see every child in our country having access to a first-class educational experience.

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Cheryl Edward

Psychologist working in schools

Formerly supporting Inclusion Support Services and Pastoral Care and Wellbeing in Catholic Education, NT

Cheryl is a psychologist who has worked in the Northern Territory, supporting Inclusion Support Services and Pastoral Care and Wellbeing in Catholic Education, NT.  She started as a School Counsellor with Katherine Group School, in the Department of Education, in 2010, working in 8 schools east of Katherine.  By the time Cheryl moved to Catholic Education, NT in Term 2, 2017, she was working across what is known as the Big Rivers region, covering 28 schools and 4,000 students across 400,000 square km’s. Throughout her work over the past 12 years, she has seen the most difference when schools work with a trauma-informed lens, incorporating neuroscience with social emotional learning.

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Toni Pearen

Actress, Singer, TV Presenter and Acting Coach

Toni Pearen is an accomplished actress, singer, TV presenter and acting coach. At the age of 17 she starred in Network 10’s series E-Street as Toni Windsor. She then started making music and her first 3 singles went Top 10 including her first single “In Your Room”. She was also the lead in the Aussie feature film “All Men Are Liars”, the host of “Australia’s Funniest Home Videos” and has performed in many stage shows all over Australia. Most recently, she entered the so-called jungle in “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here”.

Her passion for sharing knowledge and nurturing young creative minds led her to start her screen acting school, The Talent Co with fellow actress, Raelee Hill. Toni has 2 children, Lucky and Ever, ages 12 and 9, respectively and understands the need for children, teachers and carers to connect on an emotional level and find the language needed to help our children thrive and feel safe in all environments.

She is proud to be an ambassador for National Check-In Week and hopes it starts new conversations about our emotional well-being.


Michael Bani

Cast Member, ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’ play, Melbourne
Former NRL Player

Through his life experiences, Mick has learnt a great deal of understanding cultural diversity, different communicative methods and other cultural backgrounds. He spent some time playing professionally in the NRL and is now currently a cast member of ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’ play in Melbourne. Mick conducts himself well through cultural values such as humility, respect and integrity. 

He identifies himself as Yabina Kaapu, an ancient adage that basically describes him as a ‘rock’ for his family and his people.

He believes that emotional literacy is vital for the growth and learning of our younger generations particularly in the classrooms. It allows children to connect with themselves and, in time, gives them the ability to trust and connect with others. Self regulation is also critical as this creates a much safer space and environment for our children to thrive and succeed in.

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Catherine Cannuli

Head Coach, Western Sydney Wanderers
Technical Director, Women’s Football with Southern Districts Football Association

Catherine Cannuli was born on the third of March 1986, in a football fanatical family.

Whilst growing up she was fortunate to train with the under 10s Marconi boys team. This led to her being the first, and the only female footballer to play in the Marconi boys U/11s, then the Marconi boys U/12s. At the age of 13 she went on to play in her first women’s team, an all-age ladies team. This same year she was scouted whilst playing during the halftime break of her brother’s game into the NSWIS girls program. The following year, at the age of 14 she debuted at her first state league team, the NSW Sapphires, the equivalent of the current W League program. Shortly after she represented her country at the U/19s Youth World Cup in 2002 and then the Youth World Cup in 2004. Following this tournament, Catherine was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome. The hard decision was made to have surgery on both her legs simultaneously resulting in a halt to her progressing career. Numerous obstacles followed until she made her return to the W League with Sydney FC in 2009 following 5 years out of the game.

Here her love for the game was reignited and this led to back-to-back seasons playing in the W League. After much dedication, Catherine was able to represent her country playing for the Matildas in 2011 earning her first cap. In 2012 Catherine played the inaugural first season with the Western Sydney Wanderers W League team, a team that represented everything she stood for. She remained there for three seasons until she finally decided to retire at the age of 28.

Not being able to let the passion subside she decided to give back to the game she loved so much to further pursue a professional coaching career. She is now Head Coach with the Western Sydney Wanderers as well as the Technical Director of Women’s Football with Southern Districts Football Association.

Catherine has been an Optus Sports Analyst for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and also has experience with Fox Sports, ABC, SBS, Channel 10 and Paramount Plus covering the women’s games

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Marc Pedersen

Assistant Principal | Wollongong Public School

Marc is a K-12 qualified educator and has been teaching since 2008 within Primary education. He has been the assistant principal off-class head of Wellbeing at Blaxcell Street Public School since 2019, which involved leading professional learning and initiating wellbeing programs and strategies to support 930 students and a staff of 96. The relentless mindset and focus on safety Marc obtained as an engineer with Qantas he has brought to education, in the form of wellbeing. Marc instils a focus on wellbeing via peer reviewed evidenced-based research and through explicitly taught strategies to support the social and emotional learning of all students. He knows that wellbeing is what underpins the success of the whole child and he looks forward to continuing this mindset as he starts in his new role as an assistant principal at Wollongong Public School in 2022.

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Tegan Bayliss

Head of Wellbeing | St Brigid’s Catholic College, Lake Munmorah

My name is Tegan Bayliss and I am a leader of Wellbeing in a Secondary School and have been in this profession for 16 years. Having recently studied a Masters Educational Leadership and Masters in Applied Positive Psychology I have learnt the important value of applying wellbeing science for Student, parent and staff wellbeing.

Our students and families can not flourish without wellbeing at the forefront of what our schools are about. National Check-in week is an amazing intuitive that I’m honoured to be part of. Engaging in conversations and checking-in with each other is the best way we can support our young people. It is time that the stigma of mental health be well and truly broken. Checking in through National Check-in week is one way we can begin the cycle that saves lives. This initiative is incredibly important to me as a partner, mother, daughter and teacher.

Jo-ann Osbourne

Assistant Principal | Arranounbai School

Jo-ann also teaches an Autism Intervention class for students K-2, coordinates the Wellbeing Team, the PBL (Positive Behaviour for Learning)  Team and is an integral member of the Learning Support Team. Jo-Ann has been recognised with a  Professional Service Award from Autism Spectrum Australia for her ‘work in the field of autism spectrum disorders in recognition of an exceptional contribution towards improving the quality of life of people with an autism spectrum disorder’.  She has been working in special education for 17 years and is passionate about providing opportunities for students to access mainstream learning and gain a stronger understanding of their own wellbeing and strategies to promote character strengths.

Michelle Demirel

Deputy Principal-Instructional Leader/Years 3-6 | Leichhardt Public School
Accredited Lead Teacher

Michelle Demirel is a long-time and passionate classroom teacher and dedicated Deputy Principal/Instructional Leader at Leichhardt Public School. She is committed to supporting all her staff to reflect upon and improve their practice in order to improve student outcomes. As an accredited Lead Teacher, she supports and guides beginning teachers and aspiring HALTs. She is passionate about student and staff wellbeing and participates in as much professional learning as she can to support her understanding of current and best practices in social and emotional learning to implement and nurture initiatives across my school.

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Troy Westcott

Assistant Principal | Gol Gol Public School

Troy Westcott has been teaching since 2013 within Primary Education. He is a passionate educator and father, and believes education of the whole child is paramount for student success. Troy is a part of the inaugural FASTstream program with the NSW Department of Education’s School Leadership Institute. A program that mentors and develops future school leaders with evidence-informed professional development and training. Troy seeks to provide an authentic culture of care within and beyond his local school context, establishing and maintaining relational trust. He currently teaches on the banks of the Murray River at Gol Gol Public School in South Western NSW as Assistant Principal.

Register to be an Ambassador!

Be part of National Check-in Week as a Check-in Champion!

Check-in Champions lead their schools participation in the National Check-in Week. 

A Check-in Champion can be nominated by their peers, Principals or personally, to help coordinate a class or whole schools participation. 

Your school may build a team of Check-in Champions, including staff, students and parents!

Check-in Champions will have the opportunity to promote student wellbeing in your own community through the event, and showcase your school’s commitment to wellbeing across Australia.

Check-in Champions have the opportunity to:

  • Show the greater education community how they support their students’ wellbeing
  • Have feature content created to share the story of their journey
  • Represent their school communities in the media 
  • Be featured in a planned national report on students’ emotional state
  • Receive a special award to display and celebrate ambassadors and their schools efforts.

We are conscious of how busy Term 1 is shaping up to be, so would only ask for a little time that, combined with the rest of our champions, will give so much back to help make a big difference. These include:

  • Participating in National Check-in Week by checking in with students each day
  • Supporting your schools participation
  • A 30 minute call with our team before and after the Week to help write articles highlighting the fantastic work you and your staff are doing. It would be ideal if we could speak with a student or two also (who could also be a Check-in Champion!)
  • Be open to speaking with media if the opportunity arise

As a school ambassador, you will receive:

  • Free access to the Life Skills GO platform until the end of Term 1
  • Free wellbeing PD for your staff
  • Posters to help promote National Check-in Week at your school
  • Content that can be shared in your school newsletter
  • Badges for your website and emails
  • A special commemorative award to display in your school to celebrate your efforts in the inaugural year

Champions receive the support of the Life Skills Group team to:

  • Promote the national Check-in Week throughout their school and community
  • Set up and run the event over the week