At MCM, we would like parents to be fully aware of what we are doing to support pupils Wellbeing, why we are doing this and what can be done at home in order to bring maximum benefit to our pupils. This is one element of our commitment to incorporate aspects of positive psychology within our wider curriculum so we are thoroughly preparing our pupils for successful and purposeful futures, whatever they choose to do with their lives.
There is no shortage of relevant issues we wish to share with you so you are better informed about what we are doing to develop ‘life skills’ such as confidence, character, kindness, compassion and resilience at MCM. In doing so I hope you can better see how we are providing a foundation which will help your child to flourish and also inform you on things that can be done at home to help embed these life skills in your child.
Growing up in the modern & digital world is not easy and the pressures on young people today are manifold and complex. There are, however, tremendous opportunities available to those who are prepared for the challenges ahead: who look to learn new things, who build positive relationships, who make positive contributions to the lives of others and the environment; who lead healthy lives, who can express feelings and emotions, who celebrate their own successes and the successes of others. At MCM we recognise we are educating leaders of the future and all of the above are required if they are to lead with distinction and be happy in the process. All of this will be made easier if the messages from MCM and from home are consistent and clear in terms of establishing this foundation for future flourishing.
I hope 2019 ended well and the new decade has started on a positive note for you and your family. To enable us to work together to help your son/daughter flourish at MCM and in later life we are starting a regular weekly blog/podcast on a variety of Wellbeing based matters. We want parents to be fully aware of what we are doing to support pupils Wellbeing, why we are doing this and what can be done at home in order to bring maximum benefit to our pupils. This is one element of our commitment to incorporate aspects of positive psychology within our wider curriculum so we are thoroughly preparing our pupils for successful and purposeful futures, whatever they choose to do with their lives. We are launching the Wellbeing blog/podcast initiative knowing that we are building on an extremely strong foundation in terms of:
- The quality of the content and delivery of Wellbeing lessons at every stage in MCM. We believe this is as strong as any programme running in any school worldwide and are delighted this has been recognised with MCM being one of three schools nominated for the Council for Overseas British International Schools ‘Wellbeing in Education’ award (the ceremony is in London later this month).
- The way in which pupils are encouraged to reflect on key aspects of their wellbeing (e.g. sleep, exercise, diet, relationships) so they learn to take responsibility for looking after themselves.
- The opportunities provided outside the classroom so pupils can grow in confidence and character through leading clubs and societies, organising and contributing to Charity & Outreach events, establishing or contributing to House or Year group events or simply being good active citizens and friends to others.
- Our firmly established holistic IB learner profile which provides a framework for pupils to develop academically, creatively, socially and culturally.
- The positive relationship the College enjoys with parents, formally organised through Friends of MCM. The events arranged by Friends of MCM helps bring us together as a community for the benefit of our pupils. This is exactly what we are setting out to do through the weekly Wellbeing blog/podcast and we greatly appreciate the support from Friends of MCM.
The regular blogs and podcasts will normally include contributions from relevant staff, from pupils and from parents who have expressed an interest within the topic. There will also be requests for feedback so we can plan:
- articles to publish at particular times and adapt content to address parental requests.
- for parents to be involved in providing content for particular blogs and/or podcasts.
- relevant events organised for (and with) parents.
In many ways, this can be seen as an extension of the information provided to the parents who attended the Friends of MCM Coffee Morning in Taylor House in May. At that event staff were available for discussion on what we were doing in the following fields and why we were focusing on these issues:
- Overview of Wellbeing courses taught in Prep and Senior School
- The importance and benefits of sleep
- Health circulars and diet advice from our Health Centre
- Exercise programmes across Prep & Senior School
- Benefits of reading for pleasure and wellbeing
- How we support the emotional & mental health of our pupil body and train our pupils in looking after themselves and others
- Climbing & the College Farm as two activities that can boost self-esteem and be of significant therapeutic benefit
- How boarding can make a positive contribution to Wellbeing
- How to promote Wellbeing amongst Pre-Prep pupils
- Staying safe online
The feedback from this event (from parents and from the staff who participated) was extremely positive as it was from a similar coffee morning in Honan House in Summer Term. This, together with further discussion with Friends of MCM and additional parental comments, give us confidence that there is an appetite for weekly blogs/podcasts on Wellbeing related items.
The following potential topics for blogs/podcasts came out of a recent meeting of College staff who have either been involved in Wellbeing planning or in developing our strategic commitment to integrate the principles of positive psychology within our wider curriculum. As you will see there is no shortage of relevant issues we wish to share with you so you are better informed about what we are doing to develop ‘life skills’ such as confidence, character, kindness, compassion and resilience at MCM. In doing so I hope you can better see how we are providing a foundation which will help your child to flourish and also inform you on things that can be done at home to help embed these life skills in your child.
Growing up in the modern & digital world is not easy and the pressures on young people today are manifold and complex. There are, however, tremendous opportunities available to those who are prepared for the challenges ahead: who look to learn new things, who build positive relationships, who make positive contributions to the lives of others and the environment; who lead healthy lives, who can express feelings and emotions, who celebrate their own successes and the successes of others. At MCM we recognise we are educating leaders of the future and all of the above are required if they are to lead with distinction and be happy in the process. All if this will be made easier if the messages from MCM and from home are consistent and clear in terms of establishing this foundation for future flourishing.
Mr Magnus Cowie | Deputy Head Pastoral
This term we will be covering a wide range of topics at a level that is age-appropriate and informed by the current issues affecting our pupils. Outline content of part of the programme that will be delivered this term is explained below and the mapping to the principles of Positive Education and ‘Strive to Flourish’.
Across the whole of Prep School during the Lent Term, we focus on ‘Relationships’ in Wellbeing sessions. In Pre Prep we look at relationships with regards to the different communities we are part of, how to be a good friend, sharing and conflict resolution. In Lower Prep (Y3 & Y4) expressing and managing feelings, friendships and dealing with loss. In Y5 and Y6 the theme of Relationships also includes recognising and understanding how we are growing and changing, including puberty; as well as personal hygiene and changing feelings. Teaching about puberty before children experience it is essential to ensure that pupils’ physical, emotional and learning needs are met and that they have the correct information about how to take care of their bodies and keep themselves safe. In Y7 & Y8 pupils will learn about healthy relationships, including friendships and intimate relationships; families; changing feelings and becoming more independent. Across the whole school, we embed the concepts of keeping ourselves safe as well as developing self-esteem and confidence.
In Hundred we are focusing on Positive Purpose, more specifically ‘Digital Literacy and Revision Skills’.
This term revisits some of the online safety topics covered in the Shell before moving on to cover more digital literacy skills to allow pupils to maximise the benefits that can be found from using technology, while ensuring they remain productive. They will also explore data protection and the idea of a digital footprint, supported by Common Sense Education Digital Citizenship resources. Prior to leaving for the Easter break pupils will dedicate time to developing their revision skills ahead of the IGCSE examinations.
In Remove the focus in on Positive Emotions with regard to ‘Mental Health and Empathy’.
This term lessons initially focus on recognising and dealing with our own emotions before moving on to consider the importance of emotional intelligence in our relationships with others and the importance of forgiveness. A debate on the relative importance of EQ (Emotional Quotient) vs IQ is a highlight of the term. Pupils complete the ‘VIA Character Strengths’ survey and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of personality profiling. Pupils also explore different mental health conditions and consider the role of empathy in forming positive relationships.
Shell are learning about Positive Engagement in relation to ‘Online Safety’ and ‘Staying Connected’.
Having touched on social media during the Michaelmas term in the context of identity, the first sequence of lessons focuses on staying safe online and the potential hazards of internet usage, supported by Common Sense Education Digital Citizenship resources. Pupils will move on to consider the theme of connections, exploring the role that the internet may play in this and how to deal with, and help others deal with, loneliness.
An important element (and common across Prep and Senior School) is the wellbeing tracker, an opportunity for pupils to consider tangible factors which contribute to their overall wellbeing. Each week, pupils from Year 5 through to U6 are asked to reflect and comment upon the seven areas below, information which is then shared with tutors and HMs. Year 3 and Year 4 are introduced to this reflective process through similar principles using a simplified tracker. This information informs conversations between beaks and pupils and also gives pupils a heightened awareness of areas which they can address to improve their overall sense of wellbeing. Pupils comment that this is the aspect of Wellbeing lessons which they themselves find most helpful.
Why has the Sani become the Health Centre?
This is a question that has been asked by a number of pupils, parents and staff. It is one that merits a detailed answer and I will endeavour to provide this below, together with some details on the operation of our Health Centre which has been provided by our Health Centre Manager, Mrs Rak Kaur.
Enabling every pupil to flourish at Marlborough College Malaysia is a considerable challenge but one we are fully committed toward. A key aspect of pupils flourishing is giving them the guidance and framework to be healthy in body and mind. Our Health Centre plays a crucial part in this. You may have noticed that we no longer use the term Sani. This ‘rebranding’ is to reflect our commitment to a proactive and preventative approach to health rather than solely reacting to illness. We are extremely grateful to our Health Centre for all they do to help our pupils (and staff) to flourish.
The Health Centre is located beside Court and is staffed by our seven fully trained nurses. The team in the Health Centre are fully involved in the life of the College and play a major role in promoting positive health for all pupils and staff, as well as treating pupils who are unwell. Primary care and routine treatments are carried out in the Health Centre, however, the nurses spend a significant amount in various locations around campus giving guidance and treatment to maintain good health.
During school days, there is a duty nurse who attends to all pupils as required around the campus, in the Prep and Pre-Prep schools and also on the field. In the first instance, pupils will be assessed and treated by a First Aider who may call the duty nurse to attend if needed. The majority of the staff members in Marlborough College Malaysia are certified First Aid providers.
In the event that a day pupil requires further treatment by a doctor or at a hospital, parents will be contacted and advised to make arrangements for this. However, in the event of an emergency, the school will arrange for transport or an ambulance will be called, and a member of staff will accompany the pupil to hospital. Under these circumstances, parents will be contacted and informed of action and asked to meet at the hospital.
For boarders, all Hospital Outpatient treatment and other appointments are monitored by the Health Centre and transport arranged by Health Centre staff. A Dame will normally accompany the boarders to hospital and doctor appointments. Remedies, including over-the-counter medicines (OCMs) such as Paracetamol, are provided by the Health Centre under controlled conditions.
The operation of the Health Centre promotes wellbeing so pupils are aware of health risks and are encouraged to make choices which set them up for healthy and fulfilling lives. This is evident from the care within the Centre, the input our Health Centre staff have into Wellbeing lessons, First Aid activities, assemblies, various trips, activities, games sessions, fixtures and in the posters they have displayed around campus to promote healthy habits.
In many instances, illness is a physical manifestation of psychological issues, for example headaches and stomach pains can be due to stress or feeling of overloading, rather than symptoms of a physical illness. Often our nurses discuss with the pupil how stress can manifest itself as physical symptoms, they identify the root cause and give the pupil coping strategies, rather than medication. Most often, headaches and tiredness are due to dehydration, and the nurses will discuss the relevant physiology with the pupil and explain the importance of hydration, normally negating the need for any medication.
We believe that our rebranding of Sani to Health Centre, shows a clear commitment to modernise perception of health, encourage positive thoughts of wellness and change the focus on illnesses per se.
Our move to one Health Centre generally allows nurses to work closely together as a team rather than work in relative isolation; although at times the nurses are located in Pre-Prep, Prep and boarding houses depending on the activities taking place.
The Health Centre Manager visits our boarding houses on a weekly rotation basis to coordinate and deliver talks that encompasses aspects of positive health and pupil well-being. Positive health education is also offered as activity sessions and in classroom learning sessions by the Health Centre Manager.
We believe that mental health should be recognised as equally important to physical health in the development, delivery and provision of health care. Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. The nature of this relationship is two-way, with mental health influencing physical health and vice versa. A number of medical conditions have been linked to stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and migraines. Likewise, stronger immune function has been associated with high levels of social support and resilience.
In recognition of this, our College Counsellor, Mrs Cathy Stronach, is based in the Health Centre and is a crucial member of the team which works together to help our pupils (and staff) to flourish. Although based in the Health Centre, Ms Cathy is a regular visitor to Prep School, boarding houses, assemblies and all around site as she extends care to all. There are clear communication channels across the entire College between the Health Centre team, Pastoral and Academic Managers, that enable us to nurture healthy bodies and healthy minds across the campus.
In summary, we have one Health Centre as we believe it is better to be proactive in our approach to health rather than being reactive. We focus on developing habits which will keep people well whilst also treating those who are poorly at any time. This can only be effective if there is a highly trained team who provide treatment with a smile and recognise the value of positive relationships. We are very fortunate to have such a team and value all they do in helping our pupils to flourish in college and in life.
As I welcome parents into Honan on the first day of a new academic year I always remind them that their daughter’s health and happiness is my main concern, with the rest often falling into place once a child is truly flourishing i.e. in a state of optimal well-being. Flourishing is something that the Positive Education approach puts great emphasis on, as well as positive relationships, emotions, health, engagement, accomplishment and purpose. Achieving this state of self-actualisation in every child is no mean feat, but the values of Positive Education are embedded in a Marlborough education and putting pupil well-being at the centre of all we do at MCM is not a new philosophy. I thought it appropriate to reflect on how we foster a Positive Education in boarding at MCM and what a privilege it is to be a part of something so special.
Honan prides itself on the positive relationships that exist within our little kampung and beyond and never have I witnessed a more openly caring and considerate environment between the girls in a boarding House. Gone are the days of a hierarchy between year groups and this has been replaced by mutual respect between the girls, and a real embodiment of the three Cs: Compassion, Conversation and Companionship. All the Houses prioritise the celebration of pupil success during our weekly House assemblies, and each is unique in the qualities they value in its members. The overarching themes put an emphasis on integrity, first and foremost, but also resilience, when life does not quite go to plan or mistakes, are made. Our #onecollege ethos creates an environment where our Senior pupils are wonderful role models for the Prep School pupils and this can be illustrated by Taylor’s character strength panels which celebrate qualities such as leadership and teamwork by creating an environment where younger pupils can ask questions and discuss these strengths in detail.
Fostering House spirit is an important role of a housemaster of housemistress and it is no accident that the House Singing competitions fall within the first half of a new academic year. House Shout is a whole House event, which involves each and every pupil getting up on stage and singing together. Not only is singing together a wonderfully uplifting experience, but the competitive element breeds comradery, teamwork and collaboration. Many rehearsals later, the excitement and nerves are tangible as the boarding houses battle it out on stage – winning is first on the pupils’ agenda, but it is the feeling of belonging and purpose that is so vital to every pupil’s emotional well-being: each and every pupil has no choice but to engage, Disney smiles and all.
Health and well-being is a common theme to MCM and it is not only the outstanding sports programme on offer, or the well-researched and innovative Well-Being curriculum, but the boarding house routine is centred around enabling healthy habits to be embedded into the pupils’ days. The dame’s dorm checks ensure that the pupils’ day starts with the simple, yet important, task of making one’s bed. The pupil’s hand in their devices before bedtime, allowing them to learn the correlation between separating themselves from technology and a good night’s sleep. Bedtimes are staggered to ensure that pupils have the opportunity for enough sleep for their age and Honan’s ‘early to bed’ Wednesday night, where the house is quiet from 9:45 pm, has become something to look forward to for the girls and beaks. It happens to also be ‘bed sheet change’ night too – is there anything finer than fresh sheets and an early night? In Honan, we put an emphasis on gratitude being a precursor to happiness and we enjoy celebrating the simple pleasures in life. Our book of gratitude gets passed from girl to girl each week, filled with happy scribblings of the week’s highlights and those small things we value, or rather should remember to value. We talk openly about emotions and are honest about being fallible and human, and when emotions get the better of us there is always someone to talk to, whether a peer, a girl’s tutor, one of the resident team or Ms Cathy. When OMCMs visit and tell me about their university experiences, it is the people and the sense of belonging that they miss. The community at MCM is second to none and what a privilege it is to be a part of MCM’s family.
For me, I feel like the most important aspect about boarding which has enabled me to flourish is socialising with people. It has helped me in getting acquainted as well as having tolerance with those around me. Multiple experiences shared, like house competitions, make me understand people better with deep empathy and realise that we come from different up-bringings. This has shaped me into a person that appreciates life while having my self-confidence boosted.
– Remove Pupil
I think the most important aspect of boarding which has enabled me to flourish is social interaction and the opportunity to socialise with everyone and anyone in the House. There is always someone to help me solve problems and it’s not only about academics, but also simply about my well-being. The boarding activities that we take part in like House Shout have allowed me to gain more self-confidence. Also, with many activities being run in the boarding community, this has allowed me to experience many things that I normally wouldn’t indulge in.
– Upper Sixth Pupil
The most important aspect about boarding which has enabled me to flourish has to be the support of my peers, house tutors and HM. This is because being in 6th form can be overwhelming and being able to go back to House to speak to tutors and the HM about work or even just how your day went can make a really big difference in your mood and this can improve your personal wellbeing. The support of tutors and peers has allowed me to strive to be a better person myself and also flourish in my academics, sports, social life and so much more. Being far away from parents can be hard sometimes and the tutors and peers are always there to support and listen to you in the boarding community and for me, that is the best trait about being in a boarding community. The kind of love and care you receive in Honan house is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
– Lower Sixth Pupil
In my opinion, the most important aspect about boarding is the strong support system provided for pupils (especially new pupils) as well as the disciplined routine instilled in boarding houses. Boarding provides a strong support system for me to open up about my problems and seek advice either from my tutor, peer mentors, friends in the boarding house or the housemistress. Having a disciplined routine also helps me to become more efficient, productive and punctual in my day-to-day life. This helps me to develop essential life-skills and prepare me for the future.
– Upper 6th Pupil
Below is a beautiful piece of artwork created by a Year 8 Pupil.