We’ve been doing a fair amount to open up the School to parents and guardians lately, and to make it as easy as possible for families to engage with life at ECS both within and outside of the classroom. It’s been terrific to welcome parents and guardians to our recent information and curriculum evenings; to start-of-term welcome drinks; to our Revision Skills Workshop; to Headmaster’s Open Study each Monday; to weekly Headmaster’s Assembly in the Quire; to HM’s Coffee on a weekly rotation; to our start-of-year Eucharist; and to our Harvest Festival service. Over the next few weeks we are looking forward to welcoming Year 1 and 2 parents to ‘The ECS Journey’; all Pre-Prep families to our ‘Phonics Evening’; U8 and U9 parents to our ECS Rugby and Hockey Festival; and to seeing many of you at the FECS barn dance. It’s no secret that my very firm belief is that our job as a School is to work with families to help our pupils acquire the right habits for life, and it strikes me that encouraging engagement from (and interaction with) these families, and promoting participation and involvement in the very fine things that are going on here is exactly the right thing to do.
One such occasion was last Friday’s terrific Wellbeing Evening entitled ‘Body, Mind and Soul’. Mr Bartlett, our Senior Deputy Head, organised this exceptional event so as to encourage families to engage with our Wellbeing Programme and to help parents/guardians promote wellbeing and positive mental and physical health at home. The School has recently teamed up with a number of companies and providers across the city, and we were delighted that four of our ‘Wellbeing Partners’ were able to come along to speak to pupils, parents and staff about different areas of wellbeing.
Skin Angels (complete with singer-songwriter and International rugby stars) addressed the audience on the importance of taking good care of our skin, and gave some eye-opening practical tips on keeping it hydrated and well-nourished. Flamingo Physio spoke to us about how to improve our posture in the home, at work and in the classroom so as to reduce neck, back and hip pain and the associated stresses. Our own Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, a trained Mindfulness Coach, explained to us the basics of the techniques and approaches required to practise mindfulness and meditation, and delivered a mindfulness session for us. And Energie Fitness presented to us on some easy steps to take to boost our fitness and to maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle.
The combination of four of the city’s leading practitioners, interactive talks from experts, free entry, handouts and gifts, a free prize draw, healthy sweet and savoury food on offer, the tranquil setting of the Chapter House, the timing (as the days begin to shorten) and the lack of any kind of sales pitch was a winning one. It was excellent to welcome some families and friends to the event: if you have thoughts about ways in which we can reach out to even more families and encourage a greater take-up and positive engagement with these School events we’d be really pleased to hear from you. All thoughts will be very welcome.
The School takes wellbeing really seriously, which is why we now have a Wellbeing Carousel for our Upper Years pupils and a reinvigorated PSHE programme for all. It’s also why we have been developing a staff wellbeing programme over the last 18 months. New staff this year have all received an ECS Wellbeing Handbook with some top tips for maintaining good mental and physical health in the workplace, and staff wellbeing events run every term and include social opportunities, visiting speakers and training. We were pleased last week to take the natural next step of opening up a Wellbeing Evening to parents, guardians and guests.
In an increasingly-switched-on/tuned-in/right-now world, schools have a social responsibility to work with families to help look after the wellbeing of their pupils and to promote and support the skills required for positive mental and physical health. As Mr Bartlett summarises in his Staff Wellbeing Handbook: ‘Health is a state of mind; wellness is a state of being. Wellbeing is the way we think and feel about ourselves and others, our confidence, and our ability to control things in our life. There are seven key elements that affect our health, energy and happiness – mind management, nutrition, sleep, exercise, re-energising, technology use and work-life balance’.
And with this advice in mind, I have made a positive decision for this evening: I am logging off, walking home to play with my children, having supper and going to bed! Be well, all.