Photo: British School of Bahrain wellbeing ‘water cycle’ of support
The applications submitted for this year’s International School Awards wellbeing category reflect the breadth and depth to which wellbeing is being addressed by many international schools today. Several schools referenced the COVID pandemic as a catalyst to a shift towards a more sustained approach to the wellbeing of students and staff and, for some schools, to a focus on the wellbeing of their entire school community.
Judges noted that applications varied in their quality and, in many cases, this was dependent upon the author. Those applications authored by the leader or owner of the initiative (rather than an indirect communications or marketing representative), in general, presented a more informed educational context and, as a result, provided a more rigorous, higher calibre of application.
Overall, the judging panel applauded schools for the quality of their wellbeing initiatives and the important work most applicants are doing to root wellbeing into many aspects of school life. Thanks go to Komodo for sponsoring this year’s wellbeing category which has four shortlisted initiatives:
Bespoke wellbeing programme expands to other schools
Shortlisted for a bespoke ‘Support360’ wellbeing programme is the British School of Bahrain. The initiative has been developed to explicitly meet the needs of the school which combines a support and management programme. This includes an online wellbeing resource platform established by students for students, an online platform for staff that provides them with ideas and strategies to assist students, and a central hub where all support professionals are located. In addition to referrals from teachers, the hub encourages students to self-refer as a way of taking ownership of managing their challenges. In combination, the programme is providing a safe and accessible environment for improving student wellbeing.
The wellbeing programme follows sustainable guidelines, is proving affordable and has the potential to be replicated elsewhere. By sharing details of the initiative at conferences, and developing a support network with users, the wellbeing programme is being adopted by schools locally as well as by other international schools around the world.
Wellbeing ambassadors support peers in informed and positive ways
Harrow School Hong Kong is shortlisted for implementing an initiative centred around wellbeing ambassadors, proposed by a former student, to offer peer support to students.
A group of student wellbeing ambassadors are selected each year by students. The ambassadors are trained and participate in continual development delivered by the school psychiatrist, pastoral team and external agencies in order to be able to deliver active listening support and teenage mental health first aid.
Weekly five-minute surveys help students to reflect on their own wellbeing and mental health. Data from these surveys have informed dedicated sessions and events for students on a range of topics including managing challenging emotions, resilience, and meeting expectations.
A wellbeing festival offers a positive schoolwide launchpad to continue the wellbeing focus throughout the school year.
Photo: Harrow Hong Kong wellbeing ambassador badge
Student survey leads to development of wellbeing curriculum
The Millennium School in Dubai, UAE, has been shortlisted for designing and implementing a wellbeing curriculum that focuses on resilience and the development of a growth mindset. Created with the support of an expert in positive psychology, the Mental Toughness Programme aims to address gaps in students’ social emotional wellbeing that were identified from a two-year student census.
A pilot programme, which included student focus groups, helped the school to develop and improve its curriculum design, delivery and content before rolling it out to all students in grades 6 to 8. This process helped to identify a need for specific teacher training, practical and relatable learning for students, and parental and governor involvement.
The programme, which is monitored continually for improvement, has now extended into middle and senior years and has received the Wellbeing Award for Schools from Optimus Education UK.
Photo: The Millennium School promotion of one of the wellbeing events to students
Holistic wellbeing support for staff
A wellbeing initiative for faculty at Qibao Dwight High School in Shanghai, China, has also been shortlisted for the Wellbeing Award.
An extensive period of significant uncertainty for staff, including strict travel restrictions, due to the global pandemic, required a range of wellbeing support for the internationally diverse faculty. This provision organically developed into, what is now, a holistic structured one-to-one support programme for the faculty. Within the programme of support, staff have access to a range of independent experts including a mental health counsellor, career mentor, financial advice and nutritionist when they need it.
As a result of feedback from the programme, improvements have been made to the school’s annual appraisal and evaluation process, and across and within staff communications and discussions. It has led to a community that is now talking openly and collectively about challenges and vulnerability.
Photo: Qibao Dwight High School, China, wellbeing support for faculty
Congratulations to all four schools for their shortlisted initiatives. More details of these and all shortlisted initiatives for the 2023 International School Awards are now available and free to access on the International School Awards platform. Look out on the platform for representatives from each of the schools speaking live about their initiatives during the week of 16th January.