The Week Ahead 18 January 2018
18 January 2018
Dear Parents, I have written often about the centrality of pupil wellbeing in our school. Growing instances of mental health issues among today’s young people across the world should concern any parent or educator, given the potentially crippling impact such problems can create in later life. The evidence for links between low self-esteem, or the effects of bullying, for example, and depression in adults is overwhelming. The pace of modern living, and the uncertainties over the future, mean that such pressures will only become greater. Parents may well have read recently about reports of ‘multidimensional perfectionism’ as a phenomenon to add to the growing list of challenges facing young people. Psychologists are increasingly finding instances of a pattern of behaviour among today’s younger generation that is markedly different to that of their parents; “an irrational desire for flawlessness”, as one group of respected researchers described it. For perfectionists, the goal is to achieve gratification through the achievement of the best possible results available, whatever the task or activity. Falling short of this goal means failure, and with such a mindset, there follows a resultant redoubling of efforts to eradicate perceived weaknesses in themselves. In this way, a child’s own imperfections become magnified and intolerable, creating a burden of expectation that is all too often unattainable. A culture that seeks only to evaluate children through constant grading, by their social media status, or by focusing reward only on attainment can contribute to this multidimensional perfectionism. In our social media society that judges appearance and performance so critically and publically, we are in danger of reinforcing unrealistic expectations for the very group in society least capable of contextualising such forces, and most vulnerable to the pressure to conform: children. There are no easy answers to this, but school and parents can help in two key ways. Firstly, by recognising that the drive to perfectionism is a real threat to mental wellbeing, and that by talking about expectations and the pressure to be perfect is an important way to help children. A second way is one that we also use a great deal here at Wellington; a focus on progress as much as attainment. By placing an emphasis not on the (often unattainable) ‘prefect’ score or answer, we encourage pupils to recognise progress. In this way, educational growth is more overtly tied to an individual’s journey through learning, rather than fixating on an end goal. Instances of praise from parents and teachers that highlights progress can help to build self-esteem and to allow pupils a chance to find an individualised pathway through school, rather than simply conforming to unrealistic expectations. If you would like to know more about the ways the school addresses issues around mental health and wellbeing, please contact Mrs Samantha Wood, our welfare and guidance counsellor (firstname.lastname@example.org) or for broader advice and support, Mr Jonathan Lewis, our Deputy Head (Pastoral): email@example.com. Best wishes Julian Jeffrey Master MEET THE MASTER Common Room 1400hrs-1515hrs Thursday 25th January This week, the Meet the Master slot is aimed at parents of pupils in Years 7 to 11. If you would like to attend, please confirm via email with Ms. Emma Shi (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Wednesday 24th January. JUNIOR SCHOOL Black Box 0900hrs-1000hrs Wednesday 24th January Every Wednesday morning from 0900hrs, parents will have the chance to engage with the school in sessions that cover all aspects of your child’s education, from the Early Years to A Levels and university admissions. The venue will vary according to the anticipated audience, and for next week’s meeting, Mr. Edward Philpott, Literacy Coordinator and Year 3 teacher will introduce what parents need to know about reading in the Junior School. Parents' Evening: Year 11 (A Level Options) Black Box 1700hrs-1830hrs Tuesday 23rd January The Parents’ Evening for all pupils in Year 11 and their parents will be held on Tuesday 23rd January. The presentation will be in the Black Box and it will start at 1700hrs. After a 30-minute presentation, pupils and their parents are invited to attend the short introductory sessions organized by the academic departments; each of the subjects will be introduced. The schedule of the evening and the booklet with the brief introduction of all the subjects in three languages (English, Chinese and Korean) will be available on that day. Making choices is not an easy task because the decisions they make now will affect the rest of their lives, potentially. Teachers, Key Stage coordinators and Housemasters are playing a very important role in the decision-making process. Consultation with them and seeking their opinion will help your child decide on the most suitable combination of subjects for themselves. Choosing the right subjects has never been more important. After the evening, if your child is still not sure which subjects to choose, please make an appointment to meet the Sixth Form Team by contacting email@example.com. Option Process Making the right GCSE and A Level options is often a stressful and confusing process for our pupils, especially for those who are new to the British education system. To ensure that our pupils receive the best possible support, a number of things will be happening over the next few weeks. Firstly, all parents and pupils involved have been invited to the Parents’ Evenings lead by Mrs. Popovic and Mrs. Sabio: Year 9 – Tuesday 16th January Year 11 – Tuesday 23rd January These evenings will allow pupils and parents the opportunity to visit departments and gain a full understanding of the subjects on offer. They will also have the opportunity to speak with department teachers, see examples of the quality of work they will need to produce and ask any questions they may have. Secondly, a pupil-centred options Assembly will take place at 1200hrs on Wednesday 17th January. Advice will be given to reiterate the process and the support available for all our pupils. Finally, each and every Year 9 and 11 pupils will meet with a member of the Key Stage Coordination team, before they submit their choices, to have a conversation about the subjects they have chosen. This process will ensure that pupils have made the best possible choices for them, and allow very honest conversations about the suitability of certain subjects and the language level required. Our focus for this year’s process is to ensure all pupils make the best possible choices for their future success, both academically and pastorally. Success is grounded in a genuine desire and enjoyment of learning, this begins with the right academic choices that stretch, without overwhelming, and broaden a pupil’s area of interest and passion. If parents have any questions, they are welcome to contact the Key Stage Coordinators below: Emma Paine – Key Stage 3 Jane Arden – Key Stage 4 Ed Batey – Key Stage 5 Nest Lending Library 1500hrs-1600hrs Every Wednesday To spark a love of reading with children in the Early Years and encourage parents to take an active role in their children's education, the Nest will open their library for parents, grandparents or any caring adults to borrow books to read at home and extend learning beyond the school day. The Lending Library will be open every Wednesday, from 1500hrs to 1630hrs. Some useful tips when reading to young children:
- Introduce the book before you read it by asking your children to flip through the pages and look at the pictures from left to right. As they grow older, point to each word as you read them.
- Have your children described the beginning, middle, and the end of the story after you read it together.
- Ask your children if they enjoyed the story and why. Talk about the characters and their favourite parts of the story.