Thursday, 13 March 2014

Looking after the Whole Child

I have often written about how education is changing in order to allow students to succeed in a dynamic world. Another area that I have noticed become a priority for our school is the need to adopt a holistic approach to education and ensure that we are aware of the whole child. This means attending to their emotional and social health as well as to their academic success.

The Student Wellbeing Action Partnership (SWAP) from the University of Melbourne defines student well being as " a state of positive psychological functioning that allows students to thrive, flourish and learn. Wellbeing refers to a state of positive emotional and social functioning that we would wish to nurture in all our students. The term wellbeing has been used to refer not only to a person's subjective experience of 'feeling good' about themselves and their relationships with others but also to their sense of meaning, purpose and growth."(

The Sydney  Morning Herald of March 13 2014 had this to say about student well being:
A "study of almost 4500 year 7 to 12 students, also revealed that 34 per cent of girls and 30 per cent of boys felt constantly under strain and unable to overcome difficulties. More than half had low levels of resilience and of those, 43 per cent felt violence was an appropriate way to solve relationship issues. A third were drinking at dangerous levels, and one in four lacked the confidence to say no to unwanted sexual experiences, while 16 per cent feel it necessary to carry a weapon.
The findings, from Resilient Youth Australia, have prompted calls for the federal government to make emotional resilience lessons part of the national curriculum. Psychologists and educators say many young people lack the basic skills of impulse control, conflict resolution and relationship-building to help them cope with life's challenges.

''The role of schools is in educating the whole child rather than just focusing on a narrow band of literacy and numeracy. (bold added by me)
Fairfax Media last week highlighted the growing popularity of teaching emotional intelligence in schools...Emerging research suggests teaching children how to regulate their emotions not only helps reduce stress and anxiety but can boost academic performance."

Scary stuff! While the above excerpt focuses on emotional intelligence and resilience, at Bradbury, we embrace the IB's learner profile, one trait of which is 'balanced'. This means that
we encourage our students to understand the importance of balancing different aspects of their lives: intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional, in order to achieve well-being for ourselves and others, recognising our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live. Hopefully while doing so, our students become emotionally resilient, emotionally intelligent and become 'whole' people.

In no way do I see that school replaces the home in ensuring the well being of our students- developing the above emotional traits does not and can not develop in isolation. We need our parents to support this approach and view it as a part of the strong partnership philosophy that we believe in here at Bradbury.

It is an area of growth for us- I was interested in the fact that when I consulted staff about our CPD priorities for the next academic year, a focus on well being with professional development around this area was seen as a priority.

So, it is a learning journey for us here at Bradbury, we already have aspects of well being that we do very well, we have a strong ethic of caring and we have an environment that I believe promotes the capacity to allow students to "thrive, flourish and learn"- we see this everyday and it is a real joy.

1 comment:

  1. Good post and couldn't agree more with your fairfax quote. This will be evermore important as isolated cultures morph into global communities.