The Triannual Newsletter
Well-being at Stonehill
Volume 12, Issue 1, December, 2022
- Head of School Message
- Perspectives from the Primary School
- Perspectives from the Secondary School
- Boarding Focus
Welcome to the first edition of our Triannual Newsletter for this academic year.
In this issue we focus on Well-being at Stonehill and the various ways we reconnect with our community. Well being includes mental and physical health, emotional safety, a feeling of belonging, sense of purpose, achievement, and success.
In the past few years, new research and data suggest that personality traits and socio-emotional skills development programmes embedded in education have a catalytic effect on increasing academic achievement, health, behaviour and prospects in life, including overall well-being of students (Durlak et al. 2011). Additionally, educational psychologists have claimed there is a direct link between well-being and academic achievement.
Well-being is also associated with strong, supportive relationships that provide students with the emotional resources to step out of their comfort zone and explore new ideas and ways of thinking. This newsletter will focus on examples of nurturing well-being across our Primary and Secondary Schools and Boarding.
Head of School
One of the key drivers of learning is creating a sense of belonging. A place where students feel comfortable, valued and have participative abilities. Within these “safe” spaces, real learning takes place. The students are able to make connections without stress, they are able to have a growth mindset, making mistakes accepted as a part of the learning process and they have voice, choice and ownership of their learning through actionable agency.
Brene Brown is renowned for her work on empathy, learning and the social construct. She advocates for “being human”, accepting and confronting frailty through focussed learning opportunities and giving skills, knowledge and understanding in the emotional and social realms which equate to a more robust personality that is more academically successful.
The Real School network out of Australia takes this work into schools, supporting restorative practice by building positive relationships, getting to know people for who they are, scaffolding behaviours into learning opportunities and really building connections through relationships. Their work is really making a difference; breaking down the traditional model of school into a 21st century learning space that values being human.
Making Time for Mindfulness
In the Primary school we aim to create equitable and joyful learning environments that centre collective well being and healthy school culture in which every person feels valued, engaged, and ready to learn. We believe that mindfulness can play a vital role in helping students and teachers create a classroom environment conducive to learning and personal growth. It involves attending to the present moment and cultivating an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance of one’s experience.
The recent International Baccalaureate (IB) study, ‘Well-being in Education in Childhood and Adolescence (2022)’ concluded that there is value in using school time, money, and resources to improve student well-being, and these initiatives will likely also lead to improvements in academic attainment. One of the findings that emerged from this study points out mindfulness as an impactful practice that is backed by a growing body of compelling scientific evidence that indicates a wide range of potential benefits, from improving physical and mental health to promoting pro-social behaviour.
Another research conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education shows how mindfulness education in the classroom can reduce students' sense of stress and lengthen attention spans. This study suggests that mindfulness education - lessons on techniques to calm the mind and body - can reduce the negative effects of stress and increase students’ ability to stay engaged, helping them stay on track academically and avoid behavioural problems.
I-DEA at Stonehill
As students come to school everyday, it is of the utmost importance for them to feel safe, valued and supported regardless of their background, experience, ability or ethnicity.
The Council for International Schools (CIS) has been the driving force behind programmes that support student well-being and safeguarding across international schools worldwide. There has been a focus on supporting students in these programmes by creating an inclusive environment using I-DEA work, otherwise known as Inclusion via Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism. Schools all over the world are focusing on developing these I-DEA programmes in their communities to ensure that all students' unique needs, perspectives and potentials are respected and supported.
So what is I-DEA and what are we currently doing at Stonehill to support our students? I-DEA is broken down into four parts that connect together to create the best possible environment for all our students.
The IB defines inclusion as “an ongoing process that aims to increase access and engagement in learning for all students by identifying and removing barriers.” Inclusivity at Stonehill is supported throughout all our programmes and especially within our Student Support Services team. Our teams work together with classroom teachers to remove these barriers and allow our students to access the curriculum by providing individualised support for them to achieve their fullest potential.
Well-being in Secondary
The term ‘well-being’ has become more prominent in discussions about education over the past few decades. This was happening before February 2020, however, there seems to be clear evidence that the Covid pandemic and resultant lockdowns around the world have negatively impacted students’ well-being.
Thirdly, schools need to ensure that students are exposed to what we call ‘Personal and Social Development’ (PSD) sessions. The terminology is different across schools, however, the content covered is generally similar; healthy living choices, managing emotions, safe use of technology, transitions and friendships, etc.
In the Secondary School, we have increased the number of teachers involved in delivering PSD lessons this year to ensure that all of our students are able to engage in learning in these important areas.
None of this work is easy, particularly as the causes and consequences of social and emotional struggles are not limited to school in any way. Any given case can involve students, parents, teachers, school leaders, external counsellors and therapists. However, at Stonehill we recognise the importance of this work and will continue to devote our time and energy to supporting our students’ well-being as much as possible.
Deputy Head of School & Secondary School Principal
Physical Health Education (PHE) in Secondary
At Stonehill we provide students with learning experiences in PHE that empower them to develop confidence, communication and collaboration skills, and to acquire and refine important abilities such as self-management and independent thinking. Through PHE, students at Stonehill are guided and supported as they lead and overcome challenges and embrace success and failure.
Apart from physical performance, there are three other areas of focus in our PHE curriculum, knowing and understanding, planning for performance and reflecting and improving performance. Together these four criteria help guide our planning and assessments in PHE.
Our focus intentionally broadens as students move up through each grade. In M1-M3 a greater focus is given to personal and skill development, and we introduce concepts related to health and well-being. As students progress into high school, performance analysis and leadership opportunities are more frequent through roles such as officiating games, coaching others, and taking responsibility for the design and structure of some of the lessons.
The ultimate aim of our PHE programme at Stonehill is to nurture in all of our students the ability and desire to lead physically healthy and active lives beyond their school years. We want our students to enjoy, and look forward to their PHE classes, and engage in purposeful learning activities individually and also in collaboration with others. If we can achieve those aims, our students will have developed positive habits and associations with sports and exercise they can take with them beyond school.
Head of PHE and Whole School Sports Coordinator
The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as “an integral part of education and human development.
SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”
Social Emotional Learning allows students to boost their academic performance and well being as they build relationships and develop the skills and knowledge to better understand themselves and their communities. It enhances student learning as they are exposed to other perspectives and have a better understanding of their own identities, values, beliefs and be open minded to learning about others around them. It also supports students in developing their personal and academic goals so they can determine the best pathway to achieving their future aspirations.
While SEL is embedded in the IB curriculum in many ways, across the Secondary School students participate in specific lessons for this subject in the form of Personal Social Development (PSD) classes. Using our BUDGE curriculum (Build, Understand, Develop, Grow, Evolve) as an outline, students take part in lessons on various topics including but not limited to Self-awareness, Self-management, Social awareness, Social-emotional health, Child Protection, Sex Education and Career Planning.
This academic year students will have dedicated time set aside for PSD once in every fortnight. Since the start of the year, our PSD teachers have used this class time with their students to build relationships, make connections with peers, support transition to the new year, support their time management skills, create healthy habits and understand their emotions. We look forward to continuing to work with our students this year to support their overall wellbeing through our PSD programme.
Whole School Student Support Services
Well-being at Stonehill Boarding
At Stonehill boarding, we believe that students learn best when they feel happy, engaged, connected, healthy and safe. We promote the development of each student by placing emphasis on personal development, self-esteem and social responsibility.
Students are taught to exhibit compassion for all people alike. They are constantly encouraged by the staff to join and initiate community service projects such as painting buildings, helping gardeners to plant trees, and cleaning up local sites.
The safety of our boarders is of critical importance to us and all staff are very clear about their responsibilities to ensure their safety and well-being. All staff undergo a Child Protection course at the beginning of each academic year. Our boarding parents are all ABSA (Australian Boarding Schools Association) certified and trained, making Stonehill the only school in India to be a member of the association. The ABSA Duty of Care Certification is renewed every two years and is a mandatory qualification required to be employed at Stonehill boarding.
Boarding has integrated technology through the REACH boarding management system which allows staff to keep track of student activities and ensure they remain safe. Staff record pastoral notes, leave management, airport transfers, and record daily attendance, making it easier for students to be accounted for in case of an emergency. Technology also helps staff to track and analyse our boarders’ well being and provide the individual care they need.
Stonehill’s boarding programme truly surpasses other boarding schools in India. The well being of our students is our utmost priority, and our boarding staff work tirelessly to ensure that our boarders are more than satisfied and happy in the environment they are living in.