It is generally accepted that a happy, confident child learns better than a stressed or anxious one. Similarly, that mental and physical health support personal and academic development. This is why we, at AKS, have been giving serious thought to the concept of wellbeing, and have already started work with some external organisations to help us support our students. We have learned that there is no simple answer to wellbeing, rather it should be part of our school culture to open our minds, while seeking to understand ourselves, our emotions, our capabilities.
Last week we had our first WoW (Wonders of Wellbeing) day, where all in the senior school were able to experience and explore new ideas. We started by listening to a fascinating talk by Professor Kurtz (pictured), Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society, who set out our place in the universe by taking us on a tour of the galaxies. In one hour we had contemplated life and the universe as we know it, considering our earthly perspective on the birth and death of stars and beyond. We learned that our happiness is linked to our own aspirations and self-belief.
The day continued with a carousel of many activities, led in large part by an expert team of volunteers from our local and national community, supported by our excellent Year 12 students. All these opportunities aimed to expand our thinking and self-reflection. Developing skills in risk-taking, imagination and creativity, how to keep physically and mentally fit, learning to overcome obstacles or disability, contemplating who we really are. On one level how to manage our mood, on another, considerations of our place in space and time. The sessions were certainly varied. Even some simple experience of diet, fitness and meditation. It was one of those days that exercises the mind in ways that our traditional lessons might not, a mental spring clean so that we are more able to achieve tomorrow.
As we approach the summer, I hope that our students will continue to learn new things about themselves during the holiday. Life will not always go our way; it is inevitable that each of us will face obstacles that bring us down. If we can continue to build our own resilience, we will not only have greater capacity to rise to those challenges, but will be in a better position to help others too.
M H P Walton