Over the Summer break, BISP will be sharing a number of articles on our blog as part of our Looking Back series. Today, our Director of Wellbeing, Richard Stockings, reflects on how our Wellbeing programme has supported the immediate needs of students during Covid-19.
In a time of great challenge and uncertainty, the Wellbeing practices and initiatives of 2020/21 have needed to be robust and fully utilised to support BISP students on a daily basis. Students already have big obstacles to manage, including examination anxiety, identity and friendship issues, problems outside of school, managing social media and then on top of that, Covid-19. The fear of catching the virus, or loved ones catching the virus, not being able to see family, being isolated, economic concerns in the family and massive disruptions to daily life have all heightened the potential for students to find life more difficult, to say the least.
However, the focus on Wellbeing at BISP has in many ways helped students to buffer against this wave, bolster new competencies and in many cases, build new skills and develop a resilience that will support them in their lives going forward. The work of Positive Psychology believes where we deliberately teach and focus on the strands of flourishing then we can equip our students to manage the challenges and even thrive at such an uncertain time.
Having a bespoke Wellbeing curriculum has allowed BISP to react to the changes that are happening worldwide and open up safe spaces to discuss how students are feeling and give them ownership of many of the key issues. Student agency and student voice have given our students the opportunities to lead and manage whole school projects that will support the wellbeing of the entire student body.
The role of the Head Students and leads of Engage, Relate, Shine and Events at BISP has been a powerful driver in providing platforms for innovation and reaction to the issues faced in our community today. Celebrating major awareness days like World Mental Health and World Kindness days have helped raise awareness of key issues that we all need to navigate. Our Colour Team leaders have provided welcomed relief, and run fun events which students have embraced to let off steam and feel connected to their colour teams. This sense of connectivity is part of the BISP ethos that has been crucial in providing support and warmth over the past year.
The school has continued to develop its coaching methodology to intervene with students in many areas including academic concerns, time management and organisational issues and emotional difficulties. This wrap-around care has been vital in building interpersonal qualities at a time where there is a risk of isolation. This approach has continued during online learning to ensure students stay close to their teachers and support staff.
Many of the tools the Wellbeing curriculum provides will be needed at some point in a student’s life, either now or in the future. Practising mindfulness and being present is a key coping strategy and helps us stay present and calm when the world around us is anything but. Managing our emotions is another key skill that we can access when we become overwhelmed and our self-talk becomes destructive. Learning Mind Management techniques and having self-compassion and gratitude for ourselves and others is crucial at this time.
All in all, we are very proud of how our community has adapted, evolved and built its capacity to cope with a year like no other. The BISP mission statement that has nurturing wellbeing at its core must continue to be a central pillar as we move forward into the future. Every single one of us wants to be safe, to flourish and thrive in our lives, and BISP continues to place this at the heart of its policy and practice.