Published on November 26, 2021

Senior School Wellbeing is evolving at HVGS in 2022

We are excited to announce a new Wellbeing Pilot Program will be implemented at HVGS in 2022 for 12 months (reviewed Term 3, 2022). We know how important it is for students to feel connected to their School and feel supported. In numerous studies the support by the School community has been strongly connected with academic success, positive behaviour and wellbeing. For these reasons, we have met with members of our School community over the last year, listened to their ideas and aspirations for the future of wellbeing in the Senior School at HVGS.

students laughing together

 

How we currently support Senior Students wellbeing

The current wellbeing structure has been in place at HVGS for approximately ten years. It consists of four vertically aligned House Groups being Liverpool, Gloucester, Watagan and Barrington, led by their respective Heads of House. It is complemented by six horizontal Year based groups across 7-12, led by their respective Heads of Year. Each student has a Mentor. The Mentor and Heads of Year stay with the group throughout the duration of their time at HVGS. The principles inherent in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, our psychology team, our Head of Futures and Careers and, of course, our wonderful Student Services team also support our current wellbeing structure to ensure all students’ pastoral care needs are catered for.  

The Senior School Student Wellbeing Program (held in both the mentor time and Period 4 on a Tuesday at HVGS) has been underpinned by our core School values, the Learner Profile of IB and Positive Education. The Program is informed by best practice that encourages and supports our students and community to flourish. We have focused on specific skills that assist students to:

  • strengthen their relationships,
  • build positive emotions,
  • enhance personal resilience,
  • promote mindfulness, and
  • encourage a healthy lifestyle.

 

So why the change?

Schools must regularly review their current practices to evolve with the ever-changing times and be at the forefront of addressing the challenges our young people face. They must also come to the realisation that they have a significant influence on every student. Therefore, keeping up with best practice is paramount in a successful wellbeing program. Regular reviews of a School’s pastoral care policies and practices help the school community to systematically assess their School’s pastoral care resources, strengths, needs, threats, and opportunities.

In both 2019 and 2020, the School engaged with an external provider to survey the school community on the current wellbeing program. This, together with both formal and informal conversations with students, parents and, of course, our staff, has shaped our strategic conversations on how we can enhance and refine our current structure to better reflect the current trends and issues faced in adolescence, as well as streamline our communication both internally and, to our parent and wider community.  

Our programs need to encompass School-wide, teaching, learning and wellbeing, providing specialisation at each given stage of development. By engaging our students in robust lines of inquiry, driven by age-appropriate issues and students’ own curiosity, we guide our young people towards becoming active, compassionate life-long learners who can apply our School values to the pursuit of a better world. To do this we need to specialise; and our new structure allows us to do this.  

Reflecting and building on the structure which exists in the Junior School which consists of Stages 1 to 3, the Senior School will now continue to flow by introducing Stages 4 through to 6. The HVGS Wellbeing Structure is illustrated below.

 

 

HVGS Wellbeing Pilot Program 2022

The Senior School will now have specialist roles and responsibility for the age group they will manage.  The Head of Stage is responsible for the overall planning, research and implementation of effective programs that meet the needs of those students in their care. They will become experts in their age group and be at the forefront of current trends and issues. The Head of Stage and Head of Year will collaborate with parents to provide current knowledge and support for these crucial stages of adolescence.

Students will then graduate from each stage equipped with the knowledge and skills we feel meet the needs for the next stage.  The Head of Year will be responsible for the day-to-day management of their year group and oversee both the pastoral and academic needs of all students in their care. The Head of Years will remain in their sub-schools and support the year group for two years.

For example, under the direction of the Head of Stage 4, the Head of Year 7 will follow their group through to Year 8 and then return to the position of Head of Year 7.

The Mentor still plays an integral role in the daily management of students and endeavours to form a home away from home relationship with the students in their care. They will be the first port of call for parents should they have any cause for concern or have any questions. For continuity, the Mentor will remain with the group, where practical, for the duration of the students’ time at HVGS from Year 7-12.

Houses will remain in place to foster school spirit and create the important framework for school events such as carnivals and will assist us with the internal organisation of students on a daily basis. Within the new structure there are also plans to expand leadership opportunities for students throughout the Senior School and to provide ample opportunities for student voice to be heard on a range of issues. House Captains in Year 12 and new Stage Leaders will form this group. Details will follow at a later date.

Next Steps

In 2022, a review will take place to determine the success and suitability of this new structure as a way forward for HVGS. Feedback will be sought from students, parents and our staff. Should you have any questions please contact info@hvgs.nsw.edu.au.  

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Fiona Devlin

Fiona Devlin

Fiona is the Acting Principal and Head of Senior School at Hunter Valley Grammar School. She has a Master of Education from Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Applied Science from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Her teaching specialty is in the areas of Senior Biology, Science and PDHPE.