We’ve got their backs
Monitoring student well-being in secondary
Lorna Conroy describes how Bangkok Patana school has developed a two-track approach to monitor and support secondary student wellbeing.
Responding to a changing world
Following the global pandemic and a good deal of international uncertainty, supporting well-being in international schools has never been more important. Over the past few years there have been a number of major developments in this area at Bangkok Patana School. We established The Hub, a quiet space for senior school students, three years ago, the number of social and emotional counsellors working with Secondary students has doubled, the Well-Being Toolkit has been introduced to Years 7 through 11 and there has been an increased emphasis on well-being activities in the tutorial programme.
It is hard to assess the impact of covid-related anxiety on students. However, what we do know is that the counselling team are able to support a larger number of students on a one-to-one basis and they are also delivering sessions as part of the tutorial programme to help teach students strategies to support their own well-being; students in Years 7 through 11 are practising mindfulness and developing skills such as resilience, empathy and compassion as part of the Well-Being Toolkit. In addition, the well-being ECAs are very popular, as are the well-being electives for Years 10 and 11. It is also pleasing to report that student feedback on the Well-Being Toolkit has overall been very positive.
Monitoring changes in wellbeing
We have also been looking at ways to measure the well-being of the student population and to monitor how it changes over time. With this aim in mind, last term all students were asked to complete the AWE Well-Being Survey. This is a survey produced by the Australian-based social enterprise Assessing Wellbeing in Education (AWE) who are world leaders in this field. The survey focuses on general well-being; it is not an assessment of an individual’s mental or physical health and we are not able to view an individual student’s responses.
Snapshot and benchmark
The results have provided us with a snapshot of well-being across the student body. Their real value is in providing a benchmark with which to compare future results. This will enable us to identify trends and track changes over time.
Some interesting outcomes from our first survey include:
- The majority of students responded positively to the question ‘In general, how satisfied are you that your school supports and enables student well-being?’
- Around three quarters of students feel that they ‘..usually come through difficult times with little trouble.’
- There isn’t much variation across Year groups but students in Year 13 experience higher levels of worry than other year groups; however, they also had the joint highest scores for positive relationships with other students, alongside Year 8.
What makes a great school?
Students were also asked to identify ‘one thing that, more than anything else, makes school a great place’. The majority of replies fell into three categories, two of which focused on relationships, both with friends and with teachers. Examples include:
- I have lots of amazing friends and teachers
- It’s my friends that help me get through tough times
- The enthusiastic teachers and friends that support me
- I feel like the community of teachers make the school a better place just by being there for you
- BPS is a great place because the community is very open and friendly
The third common theme was food. There were a lot of positive comments about ice-creams, the noodle bar and the snack bar.
What needs to change?
When asked ‘What is one thing, more than anything else, that needs to change to make the school a great place?’ there was a greater variety of themes.
There were quite a few mentions of COVID and students just wanting it to go away so masks could be removed, performances and sports events could resume and celebrations like International Day and the Christmas assembly could take place again. Exams and exam-related stress were raised by some students, as was the amount of home learning and deadlines. Inevitably, food was a fairly common subject with some students wanting a greater variety available and lower prices.
Perhaps most significantly, there were telling comments about mental health and clearly some students are struggling with the impacts of COVID, exam stress, lack of sleep and friendships, as well as a range of other factors. This is useful feedback for us as we strive to improve our practice and to provide support for all students that need it.
It was great so many students completed the survey – we now have a baseline by which to measure changes in overall well-being, as well as valuable feedback from the students as to how we can improve. The students will be asked to complete the survey twice per year, with the next survey to be conducted in June 2022. Over time, the aim is to be able to generate a clearer picture of how well-being changes as students progress through the school, which will in turn will help us further improve the support we can offer to students.
Lorna Conroy, is Secondary Assistant Principal responsible for Student Welfare at Bangkok Patana School
Feature and support images kindly provided by Bangkok Patana School