Page 9 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 9

Shaun Fenton, head, Reigate Grammar School, Surrey:
Exam results matter more than they did decades ago but that isn’t the only challenge faced by
today’s children.
For example, social media and intrusive mainstream media erode privacy, chasing children home beyond the school day. We live in a more complex world.
Digital devices are great, enabling creativity, ef ciency, and access to online knowledge, collaborative working and more. However, having barely existed just a decade ago, digital devices and tech addiction are also menaces.
These factors contribute to a new imperative in schools to focus on children’s happiness, well-being and mental health.
However, I worry about an approach that talks of “resilience”, “coping strategies” and “pressure”. I want more than that for our students. I think we need to be more ambitious because GCSEs are not the last time life throws up hurdles to leap in order to enrich life chances.
Young people have wonderful opportunities ahead. In adult life, they will be busy, seek promotions at work, “pitch” for new contracts,
Talking Point
sit professional exams and more. As with GCSEs, these future high- stakes oppotunities to succeed will enhance life chances for those who are prepared to try and leap the hurdles.
So, I suggest that we need to help children  nd a sustainable balance. Today’s children live in a more dif cult and more complex world but the timeless advice to ‘revise well, relax well, eat well, sleep well’ remains apposite.
I hope children are supported by parents and teachers to plan a revision schedule that is intense but balanced - carving out space for relaxation, exercise and maintaining a good diet.
My favourite advice is that a good night’s sleep will leave children healthy, happy and high achieving now and in adult life. Where to start? Many adults would admit that their phones or iPad have invaded the bedroom, delaying sleep before and after we  nally put them
down – and even then only until
we reach for our smartphone while still only able to open one eye in the morning! So, if you haven’t already, why not help the whole family by taking a  rst step – banish devices from bedrooms, from dining tables, and limit screen time to get the good things from tech, and not the bad. That would be a  rst step to modernising the good advice above.
First ever Sleep Week
Forest School, London, held its  rst ever Sleep Week during which pupils and staff learned more about the bene ts of sleep and its in uence on wellbeing and mental health.
Research has shown being well- rested means pupils’ resilience will increase and they will be better prepared to face the dif culties of modern life and the challenges of growing into responsible adults.
During the week, there was a number of events to raise awareness of the bene ts of sleep and to encourage pupils to sleep more.
To kick off the week, pupils in years 11-13 attended ‘sleep sessions’ which looked at the importance of
exercise for good sleep, planning
for sleep and the bene ts of sleep to mental health. Staff and pupils also took part in sleep yoga, which gave them the tools and methods to switch off after a long day.
The week’s main event was the ‘Fone Fast’ which saw pupils and staff hand in their mobile phones for 12 or 24 hours. Teacher Mrs Rebecca Kay said: ‘The fast was a big success with more than 450 pupils taking part during the day. The pupils really engaged with the day and I think many relaxed and thought more about how turning their phone off can help them achieve uninterrupted sleep, which leads to feeling more refreshed the next day”.
Creativity  ows on retreat
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Pupils from across several year groups at Bolton School Girls’ Division enjoyed a writing retreat to the Lake District.
Based at Patterdale Hall, the School’s adventure learning centre on the shore of Lake Ullswater, the girls were tutored and inspired by Tobias Jones, novelist and
Peter Sansom, poet, both eminent in their  eld. Pupils bene ted from group workshops, one-to- one sessions and a number of excursions out into the stunning countryside; over the course of the week, they grew in con dence and became increasingly happy to take risks, experiment and think creatively.
Independent Schools Magazine 9

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