Making a Difference to Student Wellbeing

6 June 2018

Tony WoodThe wellbeing of our boys is an important issue for both parents and the College. The concept of wellbeing comprises two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life.

Equally important for well-being is our functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over one’s life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of well-being.

I want to see boys who are feeling good and functioning well. The link between wellbeing and academic outcomes is now well established. Wellbeing has been described as the ‘oil of learning’ or ‘not the destination but the nourishment for the learning journey’ (Mann, 2006). It is a simple formula: healthy wellbeing equates to more effective learning and better academic outcomes.

Boys’ experiences at school will be much more productive, rewarding and ultimately successful if their wellbeing is high.

I am therefore excited to launch the new MBBC wellbeing framework called Five to Thrive!

For some years now, the Pastoral Teams of both Colleges have been investigating possible wellbeing frameworks and approaches. Although the feedback from stakeholders has been consistently positive in regards to pastoral care at MBBC, we identified a need to give structure to our programs and practices, so we could remain confident that we were meeting the needs of the boys in terms of their wellbeing. The information below provides some background about the rationale and development of Five to Thrive.

Why is there a need for a new wellbeing framework at MBBC?

The statistics around child and adolescent mental health point to the fact that the wellbeing of children and adolescents needs to be addressed. With 1 in 7 children having had a mental health condition in the past 12 months, and 10% of 14 and 15 year olds self-harming, it is obvious that there is a need to promote wellbeing and explicitly teach wellbeing skills. Half of all ‘adult’ mental health problems begin before the age of 14 and early intervention is key to minimising the risk of ongoing issues in adult life.

When it comes to mental health issues, our preferred approach is always to be proactive rather than reactive. The implementation of a wellbeing framework means that students and staff have access to a shared language and strategies to promote wellbeing. In this way, we are able to buffer students with the skills of wellbeing before they need them.

Why Five to Thrive?

Two key criteria were used to decide on a wellbeing framework for MBBC. Firstly, the framework needed to be evidenced-based, such that our approach to pastoral care is grounded in research. Secondly, the framework needed to align with our values and mission to ensure that it was suited to our context.

The 5 Ways to Wellbeing was one framework that met both of these criteria. This wellbeing framework was developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which was commissioned by the government to develop a set of evidence-based actions that would improve personal wellbeing. The NEF’s research found that there were 5 everyday actions, which when embedded into everyday life, will enhance wellbeing.

A review of the most up-to-date evidence suggests that building the following five actions into our day-to-day lives is important for well-being:

CONNECT: With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

BE ACTIVE: Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

TAKE NOTICE: Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

KEEP LEARNING: Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.

GIVE: Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

How will Five to Thrive be applied?

An auditing process was conducted to determine the suitability of this framework in the MBBC context. Programs such as HPE, RE, year level camps, service learning, PYP (Primary), SST (Secondary) were evaluated in terms of the 5 actions. Furthermore, Year 6-12 students completed surveys which asked a series of questions using the language of The 5 Ways to Wellbeing and were also given the opportunity to provide qualitative data. The results of this auditing process indicated that the five actions were already embedded in our approach to pastoral care and student wellbeing and highlighted areas for further development.

Five to Thrive will overlay the pastoral and wellbeing programs we currently have in place and, while there are no immediate plans to change our approach, the Pastoral Team will continue to reflect, evaluate and consider how current practices can be improved upon.

We are very excited about the implementation of Five to Thrive. We believe this framework will enable us to develop a shared language around wellbeing and, in turn, provide the boys with opportunities to explore strategies that will optimise their personal wellbeing.

I encourage you to speak with your son about Five to Thrive so that you might continue the conversation about the five actions and the role they play in wellbeing at home.

Until next time,

Best Wishes,

Tony Wood
Head of College

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