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From the Director of Junior Secondary

From the Director of Junior Secondary

Author: Shelley McMahon
Author Role: Director of Junior Secondary

Emotional wellbeing at the end of term

As we move closer to the end of a busy term and a very busy year at the College, we are seeing the result of students being tired, stressed and ready to experience a change of scenery over the Christmas holidays. This has led to an increase in some friendship changes, and, in some cases, also an increase in mental health issues.

Our Pastoral Leadership team, the Heads of House, Homeroom Teachers, Chaplain and College Psychologist are available to offer support to students as they navigate the more difficult parts of adolescent development. The need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance by their peers is significant, and when this part of their life is in jeopardy, it can feel like their whole world is falling apart. Please encourage your child to reach out to a member of staff if there are some significant friendship issues that are impacting their time at the College.

Navigating friendship issues

This week, we have spoken to the Year 8 students about their group identity and how they will be remembered when they have their final Year 12 celebrations in 2023. Students were given the opportunity to reflect on the words that may have been spoken with the intent to hurt one of their peers, and I was proud of the reflective way in which they took on these lessons. A key message given to students is that we never know where someone’s headspace is at so there are words and phrases that should never be said.

Our Year 7 students are about to embark on another two-week Building Friendships unit in their Community Sessions Program. This program was developed to encouraged students to move away from their familiar friendship groups, and, instead, select an activity that interests them where they can meet other students who share this interest. When students widen their circle of friends, they develop a greater understanding and tolerance for all students in the College community. It also gives them some further support options if and when there are friendship issues within their closer circle of friends.

Helping students build resilience

We encourage all students to get involved in our College Extra-Curricular Programs so they develop a stronger sense of belonging within the College community. When students make an effort to get to know, understand and support a wider range of students, they are developing stronger support networks, coping mechanisms, and a sense of empathy and tolerance of others.

The same can be said for their move into new class groups and a wider variety of teachers in the new year. Requests are often made for students to be in the same class as their friends, different classes to other students, or with a particular teacher for a variety of reasons. Clinical psychologist and former teacher Dr Judith Locke says this can be counterproductive and inhibit students’ abilities to navigate a variety of social situations or develop resilience in working with and getting to know different students, teachers, routines and expectations. It also sends a strong message to the child that they are not able to cope when the environment is different to what they consider is the ideal. Often, that unknown student is a future best friend, and different teachers help students to develop in different ways. Allowing these processes to unfold naturally helps our students to become more self-reliant and resilient learners, and we encourage parents to support us in sending these messages to students as they navigate the unfamiliar at the beginning of next year.

Happy holidays

As the term comes to a close, students are handing in their final assessment items and celebrating the year with their Homerooms. I would like to thank all of the parents for supporting your child's involvement in the College over the past year and wish you all a safe and happy holiday.