As teachers, we pride ourselves on providing a broad and balanced curriculum to the pupils in our care. We teach the whole child, and quite rightly so. But with external pressures growing on schools, including curriculum and assessment changes, are we mindful of the effects on the very people we are here for? As a primary teacher, I am saddened each year when reading stories of young children feeling stressed, going home in tears, anxious about SATs. Children worrying over terminology like ‘Expected Standard’ or ‘Age Related Expectations’ just doesn’t seem right. And many teachers often report of a narrowing of the curriculum in Years 2 and 6, in order to meet those expectations.
Of course subjects like PSHE/Citizenship have ensured that our broad and balanced curriculums include more than just academic subjects. Many schools have bought into schemes to support their deliverance of a weekly PSHE lesson. But is this enough to support the well-being of all children?
I have been working on pupil well-being with our School Council this year. An initial pupil questionnaire showed that the children had limited suggestions as to how to support their own well-being. It also highlighted the need for us to widen current provision in order to raise the profile of well-being and ways in which children can manage and nurture their own.
My involvement in #Teacher5aday has taught me a great deal about well-being. I am more aware of my own, as well as the well-being of those around me. But I have also seen how so many of the incredible initiatives (based around the NFER’s recommended pillars of exercise, connect, volunteer, notice and learn) can be applied to the lives of the children we teach.
As a result, the 5 pillars of well-being have been introduced across our school. I spent time with the children, showing examples of some of the many things that teachers from around the globe have been involved in as part of #Teacher5aday. This led to an initial list of 15 suggested activities (#Student5aday), created by the children, for pupils to take part in over the Christmas holidays. Since then, termly suggested activities have been shared across the school.
From September, however, I want to implement #student5aday beyond suggested activities for the children to take part in. Although this will still have its place, I want to see it further embedded throughout school life. As teachers, how can we ensure there are enough opportunities for our pupils to exercise, connect, volunteer, notice and learn (beyond statutory National Curriculum objectives)?
Some ideas I have come up with so far include the following:
- Exercise: further embrace our school development of outdoor learning/ use of software such as Go Noodle in the classroom.
- Connect: opportunities to work across year groups/ links with other schools/ developing international links.
- Volunteer: new School Council members wanted/ pupil fundraising/ class and school jobs)
- Notice: time for mindfulness activities/sketch/photography groups)
- Learn: extra-curricular activities/ personalised school curriculum/use of local area).
To support this endeavour, last year’s School Council started a guide to #student5aday that will be shared with parents in a hope to further raise the profile and inform them of how they might support the emotional and physical well-being of their children. In time, a pupil journal (similar to the #teacher5aday journal organised by Naomi Ward) would be a wonderful way to celebrate what is happening in school.
During the Slow Chat on 20 August, I will be asking the following questions:
- Many schools celebrate a themed Well-being Week, and have a weekly PSHE slot as part of their curriculum. But how can we ensure the elements of exercise, connect, volunteer, notice and learn are further embedded throughout school life?
- With curriculum/assessment/target pressures, how can we make time for #student5aday?
- How can we support pupils in taking more responsibility for their own well-being?
- How can we support the well-being of our school’s parents and families?
I look forward to exploring these ideas further at Pedagoo Hampshire on Saturday 17 September, where I will be with Kerry MacFarlane, sharing our school’s ‘well-being journey’.
Before that, please join me on Tuesday 30 August, via the hashtag #Teacher5adayslowchat.