Page 12 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Wellbeing for
The rising number of young people being reported as suffering from emotional
and mental health issues is a topic we are all becoming increasingly aware of
particularly in light of the comments from both Prince William and Prince Harry,
which have dominated media headlines recently. Raised awareness of the
rami cations of health issues is driving the move towards prevention rather than
cure as the desired approach. This is also something that many schools are striving
to achieve through recognition that young people have the best chance of being
able to be, and stay, happy if they learn how to take responsibility for their own
wellbeing. Like students, staff bene t from a strong wellbeing culture, building, supporting and sustaining wellbeing is therefore becoming an increasingly important focal point for school development and success.
When enjoying a high level of wellbeing, we generally feel well, content, motivated and ful lled. We will achieve, adapt and create more easily, meaning that those who we then connect with and teach throughout the day will also bene t. So how do we achieve and sustain this desired state?
A report by Sally Sharp Personal Development Coach at Edge Grove School, Hertfordshire
A positive in uence
Growing evidence showing the positive in uence on wellbeing of re ection, meditation and relaxation based practices is motivating
many schools to include activities promoting these disciplines into the curriculum. Developing awareness of the meaning and importance of wellbeing, and providing access to programmes that support it, offers bene ts for pupils’ emotional and mental health both now and in the future.
The bene ts of mindfulness are becoming more and more evident, it tends to support more positive emotions and less anxiety, and has at least  ve broad bene cial effects that assist emotional regulation and support academic achievement:
• Increased sensory awareness
• Greater cognitive control
• Enhanced regulation of
• Acceptance of transient
thoughts and feeling
• The capacity to regulate
As mindfulness exercises increase awareness of what is going on in the mind and body, with tuition and practice pupils can develop skills that enable them to respond
to thoughts and feelings in a more considered, measured manner, and thereby make better choices.
An inclusive approach
to wellbeing
Together, pupils and staff can enjoy the bene ts of activities such as mindfulness, positivity, gratitude and yoga, as they can be adapted to  t into a wide range of contexts pupils are able to practice and experience the bene ts throughout the school day. Taking this  exible, inclusive approach supports the promotion of wellbeing in all aspects of school life.
Certain aspects of wellbeing require specialism from a teaching perspective. Pastoral care and safeguarding leads are well placed to provide guidance and advice
for building and maintaining effective wellbeing programmes within schools. School counsellors, coaches and mentors are another source of valuable information
and ideas. Ideally all teachers should be able to teach and model wellbeing practice and behaviour, some formally via SEAL or PSHE.
It is important not to underestimate how approaches to teaching
can assist aspects of wellbeing. Fostering a growth mindset and encouraging positivity through using
the power of ‘YET’ are wonderfully bene cial both at school and at home. The impact of adding the word ‘yet’ to a negative statement assists a shift in mindset. ‘I can’t do it’ closes the mind, whereas ‘I can’t do it ‘ yet offers the possibility of forward movement.
Empowering a
positive mindset
As an essential part of wellbeing is empowerment, fostering this positive mindset is essential, as
is encouraging children to take responsibility for their choices and learning through experiment and discovery in areas that support wellbeing:
• Connect – build and develop of friendships
• Be active – participate in a range of physical activity and try new things
• Re ect – take time to be still, be aware of surroundings, thoughts and to notice what is going on around them
• Set goals – to encourage focus, motivation, resourcefulness and the desire to achieve / make change
• Give – be kind to others, participate in charitable events
• Gratitude – the power of showing and receiving thanks
Sadly, support services such as counselling can by some, be perceived negatively. However, positive promotion can assist and help diminish stigma, if Princes William and Harry can do it so can schools! Strong pastoral care and school based family support will underpin feelings of value and safety, building blocks for establishing wellbeing, therefore
it is essential that pupils and parents feel comfortable accessing support.
Linking discipline to
The whole topic of discipline in schools is also a growing area of controversy and links into the wellbeing debate on many levels too. With news that for some schools, the detention process is being replaced with activities such as meditation, discipline is being linked to improving wellbeing of pupils in school. Frankly, children like fairness. Working to a clear sanctions cascade enables them to understand what is expected and the consequences of non- compliance. Effective discipline does not necessarily need to
be traditional, while it has its place, other methods can prove highly successful. I believe the
12 Independent Schools Magazine
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