Image: The British School New Delhi
It is important that schools contribute to the wellbeing of their community. The International School Awards acknowledges this with the Community Wellbeing award which provides recognition to initiatives that support school community wellbeing including the pastoral care of students.
Meeting the wellbeing needs of the community
The wellbeing leaders of, The British International School Bratislava, Slovakia, one of the schools shortlisted for this award, worked to address the mental health needs of its secondary students throughout the pandemic and accompanying school closures. They had three goals; improve mental wellbeing, continually reach out to the student body in order to foster a sense of community, and to extend that support out into the wider community. They did this by producing resources for the students that gave information on how to keep active during the lockdowns and providing self-care.
They also introduced weekly ‘Mental Health Check-ins’; simple online polls that all students took every Monday morning to indicate how they felt about their own mental health state, ranging from “I feel great” to “I’m struggling and want someone to reach out to me.” Students who were identified as struggling are contacted and offered a one-on-one session with a pastoral staff member or the school counsellor and additional intervention if necessary. These weekly activities helped the students feel like they were still part of a community, despite the isolation.
Supporting the community during difficult times
Another shortlisted nominee, The British School New Delhi, India, has utilised its “You Are Not Alone” initiative to maintain “continuity in adversity for everyone across the school – continuity in academic achievement, extracurricular engagement, and wellbeing.”
Since many of the school’s diverse population had to return home during school closures, it was crucial to create an environment of academic continuity and support for everyone, whether in Delhi or overseas.
In order to facilitate this, online academic and enrichment lessons were recorded and made accessible to everyone ensuring that students continued to receive the breadth and depth of their educational experience. Students living overseas could also access support for classes according to their time zones.
Through voluntary booster sessions, the school was able to mitigate any loss of learning.
Creating a safe space for the community
Image: Rugby School Thailand
Rugby School Thailand addressed similar concerns by implementing the ‘Big Talk’ ‘Small Talk’ initiative to provide parents with support during remote learning. The initiative evolved from the desire to maintain supportive links with parents during online schooling, as well as catering for the wellbeing needs of families.
“Simply offering an open door to converse at any time wasn’t gaining any traction,” says Jacqueline Bud Rowe, Mental Health & Wellbeing Officer and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead at Rugby School Thailand. “So instead, we developed a specific online parent hub, a safe space, dedicated time each week where parents could connect with the school. ‘Big Talk’ was designed to offer space to share larger issues such as family issues, learning challenges and welfare. ‘Small talk’ offered a space for parents to connect with the school community and chat about someone everyday experiences, just to say hello. And through these two weekly forums, we provide a first-hand support for the pre-prep community in place of the usual in-person interactions.”
Crucially, by meeting the needs of the parents, the initiative also served the wellbeing of the school’s students as well.
With initiatives that focus on bringing people together during uncertain times, International Schools will continue to lead the charge on protecting the wellbeing of the community.
To read more about these the shortlisted initiatives click here.