Wellbeing at Haileybury - Education Matters Magazine
Health and Wellness, Principally Speaking

Wellbeing at Haileybury

Wellbeing at Haileybury

Student wellbeing has been brought to the fore of school priorities since the pandemic began. Education Matters talks to Diane Furusho, Deputy Principal (Student Wellbeing, Respectful Relationships and Consent), Haileybury, Melbourne about its award-winning wellbeing programs.

WHAT WELLBEING PROGRAMS DOES YOUR SCHOOL OFFER?

We have a strong wellbeing program in place which is led by Heads of Wellbeing, Heads of Schools, Heads of Houses and tutors. It draws on the five key elements of the Government’s Australian Student Wellbeing Framework – leadership, inclusion, student voice, partnerships and support.

Essentially our wellbeing program across the school is about promoting good mental health, healthy relationships, a growth mindset, a sense of belonging, and resilience. Our students are encouraged to strive for their own personal excellence, safe in the knowledge that we believe every student matters every day.

Knowing our students as individuals helps us to quickly see any changes in their behaviour. Each morning, students spend 10 minutes with their tutor and we’ve found that’s an effective way to ‘check in’ every day and to let students know that their teachers genuinely care about them. In addition, we have a strong team of psychologists available for students who need extra and bespoke support. Many of our staff have also undertaken Youth Mental First Aid accreditation which assists them in understanding Youth Mental Health.

Along with our wellbeing subject, which all students take part in, and covers age- appropriate content, we also offer many parent education programs and parent webinars as we know the importance of the whole community working together when it comes to the wellbeing of children.

Haileybury won the Best Student Wellbeing Program Award at the Australian Education Awards, 2021.

WHAT CHALLENGES HAS THE SCHOOL FACED REGARDING WELLBEING RECENTLY?

Understandably, the return to face-to-face learning and reconnecting with peers after working remotely for lengthy periods of time have been challenging for young people. Children learn about social interaction through being together and they’ve missed that experience for the past two years.

Some children are anxious, they are rediscovering the skills of engagement, managing conversations and problem solving together. They’re also adjusting to being back in classroom routines – younger children are learning how to sit quietly on the floor with others while older students are adjusting to moving from one classroom to another again. When you combine all these together along with the demands of their learnings it can become overwhelming and impact negatively on their wellbeing.

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO STUDENT WELLBEING EVOLVED IN THE LAST TWO YEARS?

There has been an increasingly important focus on student wellbeing. Previously we talked more about ‘pastoral care’, which is more about looking after the students. This still happens but now we’re looking more specifically at the actual wellbeing of every student – their physical and mental health – and focusing on the skills and knowledge they need to manage these.

For children to learn at their best they need a clear mind. If they are worried and anxious, this impacts their ability to learn. While we may once have said ‘if the child is happy, they will learn’, we now think more deeply about what ‘happy’ actually looks like and the importance of resilience and understanding one’s emotions. That to feel not ‘OK’ at times is normal, that one cannot be ‘happy’ all the time.

There has been a shift in explicitly teaching wellbeing, having dedicated time each week for the subject of wellbeing. This time includes working through many scenarios where students discuss how they would respond to different situations and why.

These sessions help our students learn about emotions and values and develop strategies to build and manage their own positive wellbeing. They learn the importance of relationships and what respectful relationships look like and how to build them. Of course, all this is done in the context of age-appropriate topics and knowledge.

I think another evolution in student wellbeing has been the recognition that it’s important to listen to what the students themselves want to know. As adults, we think we know what to teach but our students’ voices are so important and so we listen carefully to what they tell us they need to know.

HAILEYBURY WON THE BEST STUDENT WELLBEING PROGRAM AWARD AT THE AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION AWARDS IN 2021, WHAT MAKES THE WELLBEING PROGRAM AT HAILEYBURY SO SPECIAL?

For a wellbeing program to be successful it has to be a whole school approach and it has to be championed and valued by everyone – I’m very proud that this is the case at Haileybury. The whole school approach starts at the very top with our CEO | Principal, Mr Derek Scott, and flows through to our leaders and to all teachers.

You can only have a great program if everyone is on board and believes in the importance of wellbeing and this is why our wellbeing program is so successful. Our mantra of ‘every student matters every day’ is well-known and believed in by students, teachers, the whole school and the greater community.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT EITHER AS A TEACHER OR SPECIFICALLY IN THE ROLE OF DEPUTY PRINCIPAL?

I have had many memorable moments but two are particularly special. The first relates to how important the students value wellbeing, respectful relationships and their desire to learn more. In my first week of returning to Haileybury I was contacted by two Year eleven students who asked if they could meet with me to discuss wellbeing. They came to the meeting armed with a list of things they believed, as a school, we could do better and ideas of what we could implement.

This empowerment of our students and their desire to be involved in change encourages me every day in the work I do. We are always looking for opportunities to highlight wellbeing and respectful relationships and positive examples of that. Recently Eddie Betts came to speak to our Years 5 to 8 students – even students at our Haileybury Rendall School in Darwin listened to Eddie’s story and message via Zoom.

Eddie told a powerful story with two clear messages: make the uncomfortable comfortable – in other words you have to keep trying, and who am I going to make smile today? These are two brilliant messages which tie into our Respectful Relationships and Consent values of Honesty, Trust, Respect, Empathy and Kindness.

Another big highlight for me has been developing Haileybury’s Respectful Relationships and Consent program and collaborating with our student leaders on the content and the best ways to deliver the messages to their peers. Our students have played a critical role in helping to shape the program. Working and collaborating with them on such a critical program has been an incredibly rewarding experience, professionally and personally.

HOW DOES HAILEYBURY LOOK AFTER STAFF WELLBEING?

Haileybury is heavily focused on staff wellbeing. We have Deans of Staff and we also have Growth Coaches for staff to access through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). We offer additional leave over the festive season and prior to Melbourne Cup Day. We also have a well- resourced team of human resources professionals to support staff and the school offers employees the opportunity to undertake professional development at least twice a year. A Staff Welfare Committee oversees programs and initiatives focused on staff wellbeing and there is a genuine care for our colleagues. I think one thing we do very well is check in with each other and look out for each other.

For further information, visit www.haileybury.com.au

This article was originally published in Education Matters Magazine 2022 – to read the issue download it here. 

 

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