Features, Teacher Profile

A holistic approach to enhancing student wellbeing

Director of Pastoral Care at Loreto Normanhurst, Sally Munro believes that a whole-school approach to pastoral care, combined with the involvement of parents in school decision-making, could hold the key to enhancing student wellbeing.

Fostering the growth and shaping of well- rounded students is a task that truly takes a village. As teachers continue to evolve pedagogical practice to remain in tune to the rapidly changing educational landscape and witness the impact of social media on student wellbeing, the importance of positive parental influence has never been so profound. At Loreto Normanhurst, we have seen the benefits of a whole-school approach to pastoral care, with meaningful engagement of our parental community the key to successfully enhancing student wellbeing outcomes.

The home environment has long been considered as a major determinant for a young person’s social and emotional wellbeing. We as educators, are increasingly privy to the shared responsibilities of schools and families to work in partnership to foster greater wellbeing outcomes for students. But how do we engage with our community in a way that best supports the needs of our students?

The answer lies in a multi-faceted approach that engages all stakeholders across the entire school community. A whole school approach sees the implementation of various explicit and intentional interventions and strategies target a range of groups including students, teachers, and parents. This means whilst we seek to educate teachers on supporting wellbeing through social and emotional learning in the classroom, we also support parents to ‘speak the same language’ when it comes to providing emotional support at home.

The benefits of engaged and informed parents cannot be overstated. Our whole school approach not only prioritises the wellbeing of our students, but cares for and supports our close-knit community of parents. As parents navigate the challenges of their child’s adolescence, schools have a pivotal role in providing opportunities for parents to connect with their peers and become informed on how they can help support the overall wellbeing of their children.

Face-to-face parent evenings often provide the greatest opportunity for quality engagement with educators and other parents. We know parents want support but need more time to access it, so we recognise a growing need for dynamic opportunities that provide flexibility for parents and carers to engage with their child’s school in different ways. This means the livestreaming options that flourished during COVID are likely here to stay – this is a positive for our busy families and boarding community.

It is through these sessions we look to reinforce elements such as the consistency of expectations between school and home settings and draw on the knowledge and expertise of our school counselling team. Through this approach we ensure parents are empowered to effectively respond to behaviours at home, which then reduces incidents we need to manage at school and gives educators a united platform to work together when needed.

In partnering with parents to support student wellbeing, educators can make significant contributions to the holistic development of students and strengthen the positive impact and reaffirmation of wellbeing initiatives. Emphasising the collaborative efforts needed to foster deeper connectedness and belonging, strengthen social and emotional learning and resilience, and bolster key relationships ensures holistic support as students prepare to navigate a world of complex future challenges.

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