Wellbeing focus for Year 8 symposium

Excellent pastoral care is a pillar of a UCS education – and this week our pastoral provision has had the added bonus of a dedicated wellbeing day for the entire Year 8 cohort (aka ‘Shell’ pupils).

The Shell Wellbeing Symposium took place on Wednesday, with all Year 8 students spending their morning researching aspects of wellbeing before, in the afternoon, presenting their research to both peers and staff. Edd Roberts, Assistant Head (Head of Lower School), said: “We had the same format as last year’s inaugural symposium which worked really well. The quality of work and engagement from the pupils was exceptional. The variety of talks was also remarkable.”

The main purpose of the day was to further educate the Year 8 cohort about wellbeing – which meant to dive deeper than the important, if routine, promotion of good habits such as giving, continuous learning, being active, taking notice and connecting.

Thus the Shell discovered why learning about wellbeing – something the WHO defines as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” – is so important. For instance, there are significant links between wellbeing and physical/mental health, recovery times from illness, productivity at work, exam results and educational attainment, and healthy lifestyles.

Importantly, the format of the symposium also enabled the Year 8 to develop skills in research and presentation as well as note taking, IT, collaboration, asking/answering questions, and time keeping. The pupils worked in pairs to produce their talks on various related subjects, including the impact on mental health of exercise, nutrition, sleep, social media or stress.

In putting together their presentations, the pupils had to follow a logical structure of introduction, explanation and conclusion, while also enhancing their presentations with the use of slides. Moreover, they made efforts to consider carefully their choice of language and the style of delivery for the talks, which they gave to fellow pupils and teachers, and which segued into Q&A sessions.

The presentations were assessed according to the criteria of presentation and content, structure and pace, clarity of explanation, evidence of research, and ability to ask/answer questions, with certificates of excellence awarded for the best work.

Mr Roberts added: “We know that supporting pupils’ wellbeing is key to their achieving fulfilment at school, and that is why we work so hard at getting across the right messages, not just in a one-off event like the symposium but day to day and week to week, through the entire pastoral care network that’s available to pupils.”

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