14 August 2017

Staff and Student Wellbeing

"I believe that what we become depends on what our parents teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom."

Adapted from Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

The most important people in the health and wellbeing of our students are their parents, although parents may sometimes feel this is not the case. The values parents embed in their children form the bedrock of the character that develops over time. And even though the teenage years may occasionally make us doubt it, what is actually happening is that children are collecting those little scraps of wisdom and they are storing them away. They even manage to find annoying moments to remind us of lessons they have learned from us.

One of our roles at school is to reinforce personal and communal values, and support parents by demonstrating what we consider to be important in living a good life. We also recognise that parents value guidance, particularly in relation to issues to which they have had little exposure, and where there is rapid change, such as cyber-safety.

Parents and teachers share the burden of trying to ensure that each child becomes the best person they can be, whilst seeking to resist the wish of turning them into the person we want them to be. How children come to see the world is a product of their up-bringing and education. Hopefully, through the parent-school partnership, we can enable them to see the world in an optimistic way, whilst understanding that there are different ways of seeing things.

I think that all of us can learn from what Eco refers to as 'odd moments' in life, and wisdom can often be collected when those around us have not set out to deliberately teach us anything. We can learn from the young people in our lives; and they can help us to remember some of the important things that contribute to wellbeing, such as hope and kindness and gratitude and laughter and curiosity.

International Cuisine Day

International Cuisine Day (ICD), held on Wednesday 17 November, provided a wonderful example of students working together and learning from each other. Year 11s prepared and sold food in their House groups, adopting a different nation as the House theme. This year, the Year 11s also presented to their House an examination of an issue relevant to their country of choice. To extend links through the school, Year 11s spoke at Middle School Chapel about ICD and the Year 8s joined us for lunch on the day, dining on a wide range of dishes which were enjoyed by all.

Senior School Chapel

Also during Week 6, Mr Lewis kindly allowed us to use Chapel to sing some of the boys' favourite hymns as well as some Christmas carols. I was very impressed with the gusto with which the students rose to the challenge. The obvious enjoyment they derived from singing as a group augurs well for the House Singing competition next year. We are looking at getting the Middle School more involved in singing as well, with the possible assistance of Senior School students.

Managing Transition Points

One of our aims is to ease the transition points within the school, both for students who are already at Scotch as well as for those coming from other schools. Part of this process is to build stronger links between the sub-schools. Furthering those links, the School Captain, Andrew Burvill, spoke at Middle School Assembly on the year's theme of "old yet ever new". We also have Year 6 and 7 Orientation Day and Year 9 Transition Day taking place on Monday 28 November. (I am looking forward to speaking with all the Year 9s, and sharing a little of the history of the school with them.) Similar transitional programmes have taken place for boys moving from Year 5 into the Middle School as well as for those entering the Early Learning Centre and Junior School. Each of these occasions seeks to enhance the feelings of belonging and connectedness which we recognise as being so important to an individual's wellbeing by increasing his capacity to flourish.

I wish all families, students and staff a very Merry Christmas. I hope the holidays provide everyone with the opportunity to pause, rest and be grateful, and perhaps collect a few random scraps of wisdom.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing