Headmaster

Published on February 10th, 2016 | by St Peter's College

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St Peter’s College Commences 2016 With All Staff Wellbeing Conference

As students across the country head back to school this week, all 240 St Peter’s College staff participated in a 7-hour wellbeing conference ahead of a new academic year on Thursday 28 January 2016.

During this dynamic day, every St Peter’s College employee heard three keynote presentations and participated in 12 workshops focusing on six wellbeing topics.

All workshops were delivered by a team of 24 St Peter’s College teaching and professional staff who teach Positive Education lessons to students at the School from the Early Learning Centre to Senior School.

“Why have we started the year this way?” reflected St Peter’s College Headmaster, Simon Murray.

“Well, former Australian of the year Patrick McGorry AO said, as the country’s ‘sleeping giant’ mental health affects more than 4 million people per year, many of these will be Australia’s young people,” he said.

“If young people are Australia’s future as I believe; then there is a landscape filled with too much mental illness. We must be proactive and equip children with skills to navigate the adversity and build resilience.

1 in 4 Australian’s aged 16-24 live with a mental health disorder and 1 in 3 experienced moderate to high levels of psychological distress schools need to develop preventative approaches to wellbeing.

“At Saints, we educate for Wellbeing and Academics,” Mr Murray said.

“Don’t believe the unthinking rhetoric that these educational goals are mutually exclusive. It is only natural to start the School academic year by asking all of our staff to firstly reflect on their wellbeing through this conference, and then to commit to embracing wellbeing as central to their roles and responsibilities,” he said.

In 2011, St Peter’s College adopted a preventative approach, building a culture of wellbeing and integrating it into the School’s strategy. The School was a lead partner with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet of South Australia to bring Dr Martin Seligman to South Australia as Adelaide’s Thinker in Residence (2012-2014).

St Peter’s College adopted Martin Seligman’s definition of wellbeing in 2011 and introduced positive education lessons throughout the school in 2013. Dr Seligman defines wellbeing as positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. The School draws on positive psychology, a branch of psychology that investigates that factors that help individuals and communities thrive by building on strengths and virtues.

St Peter’s College positive education lessons describe empirically validated interventions and programs from positive psychology that have an impact on student wellbeing.

From this year over 1,386 boys have studied at least 4-5 wellbeing programs across the School, representing a whole generation.

During the staff conference, every employee at the School learned about the latest science on the ‘why, what and how’ of wellbeing, positive psychology, positive education and wellbeing and heard from Dr Michelle Blanchard, Head of Projects and Partnerships and a member of the Executive Team at the Young and Well CRC and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne.

The Young and Well CRC in an Australia-based, international research centre that unites young people with researchers, practitioners and policy makers from over 75 partner organisations across the non-profit, academic, government and corporate sectors.

Dr Blanchard shared current knowledge and understanding on the intersection between technology and wellbeing.

The All Staff Wellbeing Conference helped to mark a milestone in the wellbeing strategy for the School.

Since 2011 over 21 of the world’s most influential psychologists have visited St Peter’s College to share their learning with the School as part of the Rex J Lipman Fellows program. Each has shared their learnings with the broader community with free Public Lectures.

St Peter’s College has published widely on its wellbeing strategy, including a book published in 2015 by Springer. Many of the School’s publications have received international recognition for the School’s approach, with publications about the School’s innovation ranked the 3rd most read article in the prestigious Journal of Positive Psychology.


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