Why is wellbeing important for GESS – International School? We chat with SHAKILA OMAR, Head of Student Wellbeing, about the various ways counselling in schools support students. Plus, the launch of a special student wellbeing centre dedicated to doing just that.
The importance of student wellbeing at GESS
If any area of their health is impeded, children cannot engage in learning or develop optimally. At GESS, we factor in the social-emotional wellbeing of our students when designing age- and purpose appropriate spaces on campus, and when reviewing our curriculum and programmes.
We also organise regular training and workshops for all staff, including non-faculty members, on the fundamentals of how to support student wellbeing, through mindful and appropriate behaviour as well as how to handle situations and issues.
How can a student seek support if they’re shy?
By normalising support-seeking, students feel empowered to seek the support that they need. They’ll then embrace this as a regular part of school life.
There’s also a strong focus on homeroom teachers forming strong bonds with their students. In this way, teachers become the most accessible, trusted adult for a student. Homeroom teachers can redirect students to more specialised support such as counselling in schools when needed.
What are some of the new approaches GESS has implemented?
The Counselling Team, Safeguarding Team and Social Emotional Learning Team make up our newly restructured Student Wellbeing Department. There are three new positions: Head of Student Wellbeing, Lead Counsellor and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead.
Our developments are aimed at enhancing the community and support systems around a child with a culture of care and safety. Some of these include:
- a new counselling in schools programme engaging students in workshops and activities to enhance social-emotional skills;
- incorporating a child protection curriculum where students learn about respectful relationships, recognising and reporting harm/ abuse and protective strategies;
- designing a comprehensive support framework built on the principles of a collaborative and integrated multi-tiered system of support; and
- more parent engagement, empowering them as key partners in their child’s wellbeing.
Tell us about the new Student Wellbeing Centre at GESS.
It’s a purpose-built, student-focused wellbeing space that houses the School Counsellors’ offices and a wellbeing pod where students can relax or have group support sessions.
There was much thought put into designing the Centre. We wanted to create a space that’s soothing, helps students feel at ease and supports emotional regulation.
The Centre is targeted for launch in November 2023.
Hear from a student…
“Student wellbeing for me in high school is about how my teachers treat me and how my ideas for my own future get to grow. I was always interested in politics; it’s something I would like to pursue after I graduate next year. Through the GESS BeyondClassrooms programme and as one of the two Student Council Presidents for AY2022/23, I was given opportunities to participate in events organised by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce, German Embassy, European Union Delegation to Singapore and the German Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.
The school has supported me in my personal interests, enabling me to gain confidence and be very comfortable in my daily school life, forging strong friendships with schoolmates, which cultivates my social skills in a very diverse environment. These contribute to what I feel are crucial to my wellbeing as a student. In my opinion, GESS has done very well in supporting students.”
– Robin Kramer, eight years at GESS
This article first appeared in the November 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
To make the most of living in Singapore, read our latest City Guide here for free!