26 June 2017

Staff and Student Wellbeing

In my first column, I provided a definition of wellbeing, which requires each individual to be able to

  • consciously manage emotions
  • set and achieve positive goals
  • feel and demonstrate compassion towards others
  • establish and maintain positive relationships and
  • make responsible decisions1

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that many young people are struggling to maintain their wellbeing. For anyone interested, there was an interesting article in Time Magazine (7 November 2016), entitled "The Kids Are Not All Right". Whilst it tends to focus on some of the very difficult aspects of mental health, it certainly provides insight into the challenges we face as a society in this regard.

In order to develop and ensure the wellbeing of our students, we must ensure that they understand that it underpins everything they do, and how well they are able to do things - the things they want to do, as well as the things they have to do. It is critical to put in place an overall strategy so that we have a 'big picture' view of what we are trying to achieve, but we must also work on the little, day-to-day things which can be so important to how a person feels about themselves and about being in a particular place. Finally, we must we have a balance between preventative or protective programmes and curative or restorative actions.

Our efforts will, therefore, be multi-dimensional and involve a combination of the following:

  • Streamlining our Wellbeing programmes

- To ensure that there is continuity and a building of skills as each student moves through the school

- To equip our students with the skills to allow them to flourish despite setbacks and to allow them to look out for others

- To expand the vocabulary of wellbeing and apply it more widely

  • Integrating wellbeing techniques into the classroom

- To improve students' ability to process information and to enhance classroom performance

  • Developing more substantial links between Junior, Middle and Senior Schools

- To increase the sense of connection between students, and between students and their school

- To better manage transition points

  • Constructing a calendar of wellbeing-related activities

- To reinforce wellbeing outside of the classroom

- To encourage greater connection between people and a deeper connection to the natural world

  • Conducting a regular review of the literature and research available regarding wellbeing

- To maintain and improve our programmes

- To tailor what we do to better suit our students

  • Exploring ways to improve the look and feel of our campus

- To increase positive sensory engagement in and around the school

- To allow for greater connection to the natural environment

A key pathway to achieving improved wellbeing will be working towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Pastoral Care Review and Echo Research, both of which I mentioned in my last article. A final element in developing wellbeing in our students is for us to work to enhance the wellbeing of our staff. We hope to show staff the benefits of wellbeing and provide them with the skills so that they are better able to ensure their own wellbeing, as well as being role-models and instructors for our students.

[1] Adapted by Donna Cross from CASEL, http://www.casel.org/

Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing
Mr James Hindle