Ivanhoe Primary School awarded for lockdown resilience project

Principal Mark Kent explains how the school's Where's Wally? project re-energised the school community during lockdown.

Ivanhoe Primary School has won a 2022 Victorian Resilient Australia school award, recognising its creative efforts to get students off devices and into the fresh air during Melbourne's extended lockdown of 2021.

At the time, principal Mark Kent was taking regular calls from families who were at a loss as to how to keep their children active and engaged with school during remote learning.

'We were witnessing families who were increasingly struggling to get their children to do the schoolwork,' Mark said, explaining that this was negatively impacting family dynamics.

Searching for answers, Mark realised the key to it all was Wally. The students had to find Wally.

The search for Wally

Mark worked with his wife, Susan, assistant principal, Pam Wright, and school support staff to come up with the Where's Wally? House Points Hunting project to help their students build resilience and have a little fun.

Mark said the project, which ran for 4 weeks, 'went mad'.

The team hid 'Where's Wally?' cards throughout the neighbourhood for students and their families to find. Hunting for Wallys not only got participants exploring their local area, but also collecting sporting house points, too, and all while remaining COVIDSafe.

'The discovery of a card was worth 25 house points and the discovery of a "golden Wally" was 50 house points,' Mark said.

'Anyone who returned a card to the school (and helped avoid litter) earned an extra 5 points, and those who took a photo with the card and submitted it earned another 5 points.'

Each weekend, 'fresh Wallys' were scattered around the area for students to find. The school used its newsletter to keep students and families up-to-date with the latest scores.

'This got families outside, active and enjoying each other's company,' Mark said.

'Parents were now no longer just policing online learning and trying to come up with enjoyable family activities when they were at perhaps their lowest ebb.'

Importantly, the project was inclusive of all members of the school community. The game was simple to play for people who did not have English as a first language, and the cards were placed at accessible locations and heights.

The initiative also promoted environmental awareness.

'When the time was up, all Wally cards that were returned to school earned bonus points,' Mark said.

After winning the 2022 Victorian Resilient Australia school award, the project is now in the running for the national prize to be announced later this year.

The awards recognise collaboration and innovation which contributes to building safer and more resilient communities.

Congratulations to Mark and the entire Ivanhoe Primary School community on this great initiative.

Find out more

For more information, refer to the 2022 Victorian Resilient Australia school award.