Wellbeing in a balanced education
Wellbeing. It’s front of every parent’s mind. And it’s top of young people’s minds too. In a Mission Australia’s 2018 Youth Survey, 43 percent listed mental health as the most important issue in Australia today. It’s a growing concern.
A school is not just a place where your child gains academic skills. It’s a place where your child will learn to be more resilient, feel more connected to the people around them and grow into a confident, caring and well-balanced adult.
In today’s busy modern and rapidly changing world, emotional wellness is just as important as academics. That’s why student wellbeing is a core focus of CCGS’s Next Generation Teaching and Learning Strategic Plan.
We spoke with Deputy Head of Middle School, Jacki Lynch to discuss wellbeing in more detail. Mrs Lynch heads up a team of staff across the entire school who are working together to implement wellbeing strategies from the ground up.
CCGS: Firstly, what is wellbeing and what does this mean for the CCGS community?
Mrs Lynch: Wellbeing is about individuals realising their own abilities, who are empowered and supported to meet challenges and make positive contributions to the community. We believe wellbeing is important for our entire community. It’s not just about the students but our staff and parents as well.
Research shows there is a direct link between wellbeing and student outcomes at all stages of learning. A Wellbeing agenda that embraces the whole school community facilitates the best possible outcomes for our students.
CCGS: Why is wellbeing so important?
Mrs Lynch: Every school experiences wellbeing issues such as mental health, risk of harm and suicide ideation. We are no exception to this –– it’s on our doorstep and it’s very real. We need to be aware, take preventative measures and put protective factors in place. We also need to break down the stigma of wellbeing so there is meaningful dialogue around our emotions and mental health.
At CCGS we’ve always had a strong wellbeing focus, however, we know an authentic wellbeing program doesn’t start and end with a policy or a checklist. It is our intent to support students in managing a whole range of wellbeing issues in a safe, nurturing environment, so they can thrive and reach their potential.
CCGS: Tell us more about the Wellbeing Framework.
Mrs Lynch: The Australian Student Wellbeing Framework, launched in November last year, is a foundational document to help school communities build positive learning environments and review safety and wellbeing policies. At CCGS we’ve worked with the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) to modify the Framework. Our key objective was to create a wellbeing framework that embraces the whole school community – students, staff and parents
Over the past twelve months, we've researched a range of programs to support our work. As a result, we are now a registered as a Be You school. Be You is about creating mentally healthy learning communities for everyone – staff, families, children and young people and beyond. This supports our vision that when everyone in a learning community unites, together we can create meaningful change and improve the mental health of children and young people.
Our Wellbeing Framework is an overarching document that enables us to look at wellbeing through a common lens: This supports us to make informed decisions regarding our school context and future directions in the wellbeing space.
CCGS: What can we expect to see in the coming months in terms of wellbeing?
Mrs Lynch: We’re excited about the work currently being undertaken. We've conducted a K to 12 Scoping Study to assist us in mapping and developing a comprehensive K to 12 Wellbeing Scope and Sequence. This scope and sequence will include our school values, special events such as ‘Harmony Day’, seminars and workshops specifically designed for students, staff and parents, PDHPE teaching and learning content and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority's (ACARA) Personal and Social Capacity continuum.
As a Be You School, we intend to start our journey by surveying students, staff and parents to ascertain a wellbeing focus for 2020. Be You provides online learning modules for staff, support material for parents and teaching and learning programs to best meet the needs of our children and young people. We will continue to hold workshops throughout the year on current issues and school specific areas of need.
Student voice is a key component of our Wellbeing Framework and critical to implementing a successful wellbeing agenda. If we are serious about wellbeing, we need to give students choice and voice. It is our intention to empower authentic agency and engagement, so our students take ownership of their own learning and wellbeing, feel connected and use their social and emotional skills to be respectful, resilient and safe.
The fundamental values that underpin our school will be embedded into our wellbeing program and we’ll continue to explore with our students what these values mean and how they can guide the real life choices we make both now and into the future.
Our wellbeing program will continue to develop, adapt and grow. It doesn’t end here.
CCGS: If a parent is worried about their child’s wellbeing, what should they do?
Mrs Lynch: Our philosophy is that we are all responsible for the wellbeing of the children and young people in our care. All staff at CCGS are open and receptive to communicate with parents on any issues of concern. Through our inclusive approach we endeavour to provide a welcoming and connected school culture.
Open communication between home and school is critical. Our House structure provides points of contact for Senior School students/parents and you need only contact your child’s House Coordinator who will provide support and guidance. In the Junior School, your child’s class teacher is the best person to speak to in the first instance.
If you’re interested in discovering more about the wellbeing initiatives at CCGS please get in touch.