With 1,100 students from 25 different nationalities, providing a balanced education is key for the Australian International School Hong Kong (AISHK). And one of the ways it achieves balanced academic outcomes while educating the whole student is by focusing on wellbeing.
It’s an increasingly important focus, too. While student wellbeing has always been holistically incorporated into the curriculum and community ethos of AISHK, discussions on the topic have become more vital than ever as a result of pandemic-related limitations and students having ready access to so much information about environmental, health and economic uncertainty.
Forming a Wellbeing Committee
So, what does wellbeing look like at the school?
Deputy Head of Secondary JANINE HAYMES explains: “In recent years, we’ve taken a more agile approach to meet the evolving needs of students and staff, including the establishment of a Wellbeing Committee. Led by the Deputy Heads of Secondary and Primary and comprising diverse staff representatives from across the school, the committee’s main goal is to identify and implement an evidence based, whole-school, proactive wellbeing platform, which is shaped for our school’s unique context.”
This whole-school approach is known to deliver positive results, including academic performance. According to the AISNSW Wellbeing Literature Review 2021, it’s been shown to “improve wellbeing, reduce internalising problems and support gains in interpersonal and intrapersonal attitudes and skills.”
How it works
The Wellbeing Committee meets at least twice a term. Outcomes are shared with the teachers and students which lead to action at a class or whole-school level.
One member of the committee is in a position to provide both a staff and student perspective. AISHK alumna JOANNA CHAN graduated from the school in 2010.
“I took IB Biology in Years 11 and 12, and I really enjoyed topics around genetics, pathology and human anatomy,” she says. “I knew then that I wanted to get into the health industry, and I thought psychology may be an option.”
Fast forward 11 years to today, and Joanna is now the Primary School Psychologist at AISHK. Thinking back on her time as a student, she reflects on how the school helped her to develop a cultural awareness and openness to diversity when interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
“Growing up in a multicultural environment like AISHK, I naturally became interested in learning new languages; that prompted me to take up three years of learning Korean as an elective at university. In addition to English, I’m also a fluent speaker of Cantonese and Mandarin.”
Input from everyone
An important part of any school wellbeing framework is the voice of students and staff alike. The committee has recognised this by giving an opportunity for everyone to assist with identifying keywords and phrases that are already associated with the wellbeing experience at the school.
“The goal is for these commonly identified words and phrases to be generated into a wellbeing conceptualisation that’s unique to our school,” says Janine. “This collaboratively built vision will then be woven into the rich fabric of the school community.”
Especially now, whether it involves students or staff – or, indeed, parents – the school hopes that the important conversation about wellbeing continues for the whole AISHK community.
Find out more
Watch a video on how wellbeing is promoted through Pastoral Care classes, including a word with Year 9 student Aidan:
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.