MCM Senior Wellbeing Programme 2022

As we approach the beginning of our first exeat, a time for both pupils and staff to pause and reflect on the first four weeks of term, it is important also to reflect on an issue that we are all concerned about: progress. Not academic progress. That, quite rightly, gets a significant amount of attention throughout the year and is a primary focus of pupils, staff and parents. Grades are, after all, a currency that allow our pupils many wonderful future opportunities, not least of which can be a rich and fulfilling university experience. As we all recognise, though, academic success cannot come at the expense of our pupils’ Wellbeing and at MCM we are determined to ensure that all pupils flourish in this aspect of their lives too.

Which is why, instead of simply recognising the success of the 2021-2022 Senior School Wellbeing program – led ably by our Researcher in Residence (Diane Trif, University of Pennsylvania), we at MCM are aiming to progress.

The direction has been made clear by both pupils and teachers: the MCM community is looking for a Wellbeing program that recognises the challenges that lie outside of MCM and prepares them to be active, confident and well-informed participants of this world. It is perhaps the downfall of living in a ‘bubble’, where people are polite and supportive, where there is help available for any who ask and where mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities. What happens when you immerse yourself in a community where this level of support is not the norm? In the UK, over 18,000 students withdrew from university courses in the first six months of enrolling, according to figures from the Student Loans Company (2022). In 2021, 24.1% of first-time undergraduate freshmen in the US dropped out within the first 12 months, according to the Education Data Initiative. It is a truth that needs to be acknowledged in order to be tackled: not every student leaves school prepared for the realities of a more independent life. 

We intend to be proactive in addressing this issue.

As we are able to relax SOPs, there will be a greater emphasis placed on practical Wellbeing activities that pupils can continue to engage with outside of the classroom and on teamwork, as the rules now allow pupils to work in larger and more diverse groupings, striving towards our collective goal of establishing a broader sense of school community than has been permitted in the last few years.

In addition to this, the Pupil Wellbeing Committee is currently leading on an initiative to improve the life skills training that MCM offers, asking for a greater focus to be placed on financial literacy, domestic skills (learning how to do their own laundry, cook basic meals, tie a bow tie etc.) and how to stay safe when moving through an unfamiliar environment, to name but a few. The Lent term, for both Lower and Upper Sixth, has been dedicated to the delivery of these sessions under the wider banner of ‘Life at University’. For now, the Michaelmas term has been dedicated to developing an awareness of risky behaviours (everything from a lack of sleep to addictive substances), the strengthening of pupils’ understanding of their potential roles in a school community and a focus on how pupils’ choices can directly impact their Wellbeing.

 

During the Michaelmas Term, pupils will participate in the following Wellbeing sessions & activities:

 

Shell

  • “Sleep and Your Brain” – How sleep or lack of sleep can impact your health.
  • “Exercise and its Benefits” – How physical movement can improve your mental state.
  • “Positive Self-Image” – Recognising the issues surrounding body image, dieting & stress.
  • “Community” – Emphasising kindness & a sense of belonging.
  • ATL Sessions: Self Management & Thinking Skills.
  • Digital Wellbeing: Chatting & red flags.
  • Careers Intro & Unifrog Sign-up.

Shell pupils will be given the chance to experience salsa, boxercise and yoga lessons, exploring exercise opportunities that go beyond traditional athletic and team sport options, whilst also joining with the Estates team to discover the vast MCM community that helps to run our school.

 

Remove

  • “Procrastination & The Chimp Brain” – How to manage the chimp & set up good habits.
  • “Resilience Skills” – How resilience is built and what contributes to it.
  • “Drugs & Alcohol Awareness” – E-cigarettes, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and addictions.
  • “Being Yourself” – Why it matters to stand behind who you are.
  • “School Culture” – The importance of kindness, empathy and compassion.
  • ATL Sessions: Self Management & Thinking Skills.
  • Digital Wellbeing Sessions: Hoaxes and fakes. Acting with empathy and positivity online.

Remove pupils will be given the chance to develop their teamwork skills outside the classroom with a Photo Hunt Community Challenge and to win the Dragon’s Den Pitching Competition, in order to fund their chosen awareness campaign for addictive substances and their dangers.

 

Hundred

  • “True Success” – How do we define success beyond grades, school, and work?
  • “Substance and Alcohol Abuse” – How addiction can be considered a form of escapism.
  • “Resilience & Thinking Traps”: Thinking biases.
  • ATL Sessions: Self Management & Thinking Skills
  • Digital Wellbeing Sessions: Curated lives on the internet. Countering hate speech online.
  • Careers Sessions: Springpod sign up & use. Developing self-reflection skills.

Hundred pupils will explore the fact that the UK’s Office for National Statistics has revealed a “significant” fall in alcohol consumption amongst the 16-24 age group over the last ten years, with the percentage of young people who do not drink any alcohol at all rising by 32%. They will also be challenged to create videos that reflect the growing disconnect between how information is presented online and the reality of a situation.

 

Lower Sixth

  • “Toxic Positivity & Toxic Masculinity” – How extreme attitudes can stifle authenticity.
  • “The World Of Work” – Rights and responsibilities, trade unions and how to constructively challenge workplace behaviours.
  • ATL Sessions: Self Management & Thinking Skills
  • Careers: Springpod sign up & use.

Lower Sixth pupils will also participate in a practical session on interview preparation, to improve their confidence in both their future applications for competitive universities and their ability to successfully enter the jobs market.

 

Upper Sixth

  • “Domains of Life” – The importance of nurturing the non-academic aspects of your life.
  • “Personal Safety” – Alcohol consumption, financial protections and personal data sharing.
  • “Relationships” – Emotional intimacy, consent & recognising abusive relationships.
  • ATL Sessions: Self Management & Thinking Skills

Upper Sixth pupils will also participate in an extended session, spending an afternoon running an Outreach picnic for orphans from the Rotary Children’s Home.

 

All Houses & year groups will join together to celebrate and recognise Anti-Bullying Week on Monday 14th – Friday 18th November.

Each term, expect to receive an update on how we are evolving and diversifying the Wellbeing programme in the Senior School. We take our responsibility to prepare your children for the challenges ahead very seriously and intend for you to be a part of this conversation too. At MCM, however, we are fully aware that tackling serious issues does not mean that we aren’t planning for the pupils to have some fun too, so in the next update expect photos and testimonials from pupils.

 

Ms Rebecca Ngakane 

Head of Senior Wellbeing

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