Queen Margaret’s has been named as the winner in the Student Wellbeing category of the Independent Schools of The Year (ISOTY) Awards 2021. We are immensely proud of both our girls and our staff for this fantastic achievement.
The Independent Schools of The Year Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements that students, staff and whole school communities have achieved in the past year. There are 24 categories and delivering and supporting student excellence lies at the heart of each award. Over 700 entries were received in total, with Dr Helen Wright, Chair of the ISOTY Awards judging panel describing the student wellbeing award as "perhaps one of the most important areas of school life over the past 18 months".
QM was nominated thanks to our commitment to all of our girls' wellbeing whilst they were learning from home and our approach to fully supported, seamless online learning.
Wellbeing in Lockdown
Creating a multidimensional approach to wellbeing was key during the lockdown periods, allowing us to acknowledge the circumstances of each girl, wherever they were located in the world. Wellbeing has been both a strong starting point and the thread which has run through the School’s remote learning support platform - QM Connect.
During the first lockdown, QM launched the Five Ways to Positive Wellbeing initiative. This is a national strategy that is supported by many mental health charities. During an extremely difficult period, it provided structure and guidance for girls about how to keep themselves healthy. A critical driver in every tutorial during lockdown was discussion about positive wellbeing. The Five Ways to Positive Wellbeing initiative gave tutors a structure in which to check the girls were following a healthy lifestyle, as well as to give them targets when needed.
QM takes great care in ensuring wellbeing and learning are fully integrated. As such, during the lockdown period, timetables were adjusted to ensure that girls had time away from their screens. During lockdown #1, academic lessons finished at lunchtime for Key Stage 3 students and 14:00 for Key Stage 4 and 5 students. This enabled the afternoons to be spent on enrichment activities, with families and outdoors if possible. During lockdown #3, academic lessons finished early at 16:30 and there was no Saturday School.
The School developed its enrichment programme throughout the remote learning period, which included many activities continuing online, such as Dance and Music lessons. In addition, an extraordinarily wide range of enrichment classes were delivered that focussed on the girls simply getting stuck in and having fun. They were light-hearted, creative and engaging. A virtual space on the School’s VLE, Community Corner, gave the girls a place to connect and participate fun daily challenges.
Last academic year saw the first appointment of the Deputy Head Girl (Wellbeing), a great way of giving status to the School’s position on student wellbeing. The Deputy Head Girl (Wellbeing) chairs the Wellbeing Council, which includes representatives from all year groups. She drives forward initiatives and ideas which are formulated by the Wellbeing Council. A new ‘Wellbeing Champions Initiative’ was also introduced, designed to encourage girls to come forward and apply to become one of ten new Wellbeing Champions, responsible for taking the lead in positive mental health across their year group. In order to become a Wellbeing Champion the girls completed six weeks of training, whereby they came together, virtually, every week and worked their way through a range of units. This included ‘The role of the Wellbeing Champion,’ ‘Safeguarding’ and ‘Active Listening Skills.’
It is this multi-faceted approach which left the judges convinced that QM was a worthy winner of the Student Wellbeing award 2021.
Click here to learn more about QM Connect.
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