Wellbeing at Ballinamore Community School
Wellbeing Co-ordinator: A. Garvey
The reformed junior cycle has placed wellbeing at it’s core, as illustrated on the graphic below. There is overwhelming evidence to prove that students learn more effectively if they are happy in their work, believe in themselves and feel that school is supporting them. Furthermore, ESRI research found that children with higher levels of emotional, behavioural, social and school wellbeing had higher levels of academic achievement subsequently at the ages of 11, 14 and 16.
Developing a Whole School Approach to Wellbeing
The Department of Education and Skills and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment are asking all schools to develop a whole school approach to wellbeing at junior cycle. To assist schools in this they have prescribed a 7-step process which requires that a wellbeing committee be formed and that consultations are then undertaken to gather the opinions of all members of the school community. Once the information has been gathered, the wellbeing team must collate it and devise a plan for a wellbeing programme that will meet the expressed needs of the students, parents and staff. The plan is to be reviewed every two years to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the community it serves.
The plan for wellbeing at junior cycle will be developed to reflect the 6 indicators of wellbeing shown below and it will also address our practices in relation to our policies and planning procedures, curriculum, culture and relationships.
6 Indicators of Wellbeing
4 Aspects of Wellbeing
From August 2017 a minimum of 300 hours must be made available to wellbeing related learning across the three years of junior cycle. However, by August 2020 schools will be obliged to dedicate a minimum of 400 hours to wellbeing. Given the level of priority that the Department of Education are giving to wellbeing as an area of learning, it is vitally important that we ensure that the time devoted to it is well planned and facilitated to ensure that our students gain the maximum benefit from these classes.
The Consultation Process
In December 2017 and January 2018 the whole school community were invited to participate in the development of our whole school approach to wellbeing. Questionnaires were made available online for the staff, students and parents to complete. Focus groups were also organised to ensure that everyone who wanted to voice their opinions in relation to junior cycle wellbeing was heard. There was one focus group for the staff, one for the parents and as a large number of students wanted to participate there were two for students.
Summary of findings from the Wellbeing Consultation Process
In December 2017 and January 2018 all 1st-5th year students, their parents/guardians and teachers were invited to complete questionnaires and participate in focus groups. Both the questionnaires and the focus groups were designed to generate feedback on all six indicators of wellbeing. At the end of the questionnaires and the focus groups participants were asked to identify the indicators and areas of learning that they wanted prioritised when our whole school approach to wellbeing is being planned.
The table below shows the priorities identified by the various groups.
Prioritisation of Indicators of Wellbeing
PFG = Parent Focus Group PQ = Parent Questionnaire
SFG = Student Focus Group (There were two) SQ = Student Questionnaire
TFG = Teacher Focus Group
Numbers relate to how important each indicator was rated (1 = Most important & 2 = Second most important).
Indicators of Wellbeing
First Meeting of the Wellbeing Team:
The Wellbeing Team met on Thursday 8th March at 4pm to begin the process of planning for wellbeing. To ensure a whole school approach the plan must address all four aspects of wellbeing.
At this meeting we discussed the findings of the consultation process and agreed that our primary aims would be in relation to the indicators aware and responsible.
The findings of the parent questionnaire, student questionnaire, teacher focus group and one of the two student focus groups ranked aware as the indicator that they wanted to prioritise. The second student focus group ranked aware as their second preference for priority.
We discussed the various responses given and comments made in relation to the aware indicator. Most of the comments were concerned with the students’ understanding of what helps them to learn and how they can improve. We agreed that we would aim to introduce formative instructional and assessment practices as a means of addressing this issue.
The student questionnaire, teacher focus group and one of the student focus groups ranked responsible as their second preference for priority.
Once again, we discussed the various responses given and comments made in relation to the responsible indicator. On this occasion we discovered that most of the concerns reported were in relation to students knowing when their safety was at risk online. It was agreed that we would aim to create a greater awareness of the dangers associated with the internet and social media among our school community.
Where do we go from here?
Planning for junior cycle wellbeing will be divided into a variety of strands. The teachers of SPHE, CSPE, PE and Wellbeing will be invited to come together to plan a curriculum for first and second year students that will address all the concerns raised in the consultation process. At the meeting on the 8th March we agreed that while our primary focus would be on the aware and responsible indicators, that we would not forget about the concerns raised in relation the resilient, connected and active indicators. The subjects of SPHE, CSPE, PE and Wellbeing are all well placed to address these concerns. Other subject areas which may have valuable contributions to make will also be encouraged to do so. This subject planning will take place in March and early April.
Planning for our primary aims will commence on Tuesday 20th March. At this meeting the wellbeing team will be asked to devise plans according to the template below: