Happy and Healthy Learners

By Anabela Mok 2021-06-04 16:21:12

How the Well-being Programme at the British International School Shanghai, Puxi is transforming what we think of education.

The current generation of students is facing new stresses we have not seen before. Although children are resilient, receiving proper guidance in a positive environment will allow them to thrive both academically and personally. This is exactly what the Well-being Programme at the British International School Shanghai, Puxi (BISS Puxi) sets out to achieve. From experienced coaches guiding students, to specially designed spaces allowing students to expand their minds, well-being is a key component of helping students excel at BISS Puxi.


Why is the well-being of a child so important? 

In an uncertain global environment, students can be burdened by the pressure to succeed academically to stay abreast of the competition. According to Emma James, Assistant Head of Secondary (Pastoral), “after the unprecedented months of COVID-19, we are even more conscious of the importance of wellness before anything else, because if you don’t have your wellness, you don’t have healthy and happy learners and children learn better when they are in a happy and healthy space.”


Emma James, Assistant Head of Secondary (Pastoral)

“It is really about encouraging wellness as a foundation throughout the whole school and allowing people to be self-aware and manage their emotions.”


A programme transcending many levels

Emma oversees the Well-being Programme. She, along with a select group of teachers (Heads of Year), form the pastoral team. From Years 7 to 13, an individual Head of Year looks after the well-being of that year group, which can consist of approximately 90 children. To ensure a friendly, caring, and personalised approach to wellness, within each year, the students are part of a smaller form group with a Form Tutor, who is their well-being person. That person is available to the students on a daily basis. They are the first person students see in the morning and last person at the end of the school day. But it doesn’t stop there. If students encounter difficulties once at home, the pastoral team are often available at all hours to offer their support. Their response time to messages is fast, guiding students through situations, which could prevent long lasting effects.

High Performance Coach and Olympian, Marlon Devonish, brings his professional athletic experience to teaching students how to focus amidst challenges, by using mindfulness as a tool. “Just getting them to focus on that one thing and learn how to have that cue. It’s important to create peaks and troughs for them to learn, need to stretch them to learn, to be ambitious. It’s important that they rest and know how to do that. With what’s going on in the world globally, it’s important; it becomes a coping skill.”

With a professional pastoral team, students are closely monitored for any change in behaviour and the team will intervene if necessary. The team arranges a student’s return to formal classes and talks about the issue collectively or creates a one-on-one engagement with the student. Marlon also adds, “it’s our job as educators, not to just teach Maths and English, but to be a coach and guide to teach children how to be resilient, and how to cope with outside pressures, build their self-worth and self-esteem.”


Marlon Devonish, Elite Athlete High Performance Coach 

“It’s important that they rest and know how to do that. With what’s going on in the world globally, it’s important, but it becomes a coping skill.”


Wellness from the individual

One part of creating an environment that focuses on the student’s well-being is getting everyone on board. “Some of them will like the mindfulness sessions. Some people might love sports. So, at the end of a sports activity, we’ll do a mindfulness session. These are the students who wouldn’t go on a yoga mat, but they’re going to hang out with Marlon. It is really about encouraging wellness as a foundation throughout the whole school and allowing people to be self-aware and manage their emotions,” said Emma.

It is also for this reason that many of the extracurricular activities such as sports are conducted in the morning. Exercising in the morning allows for a positive start to the day, helps to recalibrate the energy level of the students and helps to lower any potential disruptive behaviour. The wellness programme is integrated into school life for all year groups. Students in Early Years use age appropriate techniques to coach self-awareness and management of emotions. When they grow into the academic programme in later years, they will have a consistent message of prioritising well-being.


Welcoming wellness spaces

At BISS Puxi it’s important for students to have spaces to practise wellness. Whether it is playing on the LEGO wall or being inspired by the messages surrounding the Well of Knowledge, the welcoming environment gives students a boost of positivity. Walk-in art studios, music rooms, and multimedia labs allow students to relax their mind by doing activities they love. Open sports courts are also available for students to toss a ball or engage in a friendly match during breaktimes.

Even if a student is not athletically inclined, the spirit of the school motivates all to move, especially with an inspirational and motivating figure such as Coach Marlon. “We’re always encouraging our students to be active, even before school starts. Simply changing the car drive to school to include a 20-minute walk, can put the brain in an ‘education ready mode’. Stimulating brain activity through relatively low exercise stimulates better learning,” said Marlon.



Wellness in the home

In an academic environment that prioritises wellness, it’s equally important to have the same environment extended at home. The school organises monthly Parent Workshops where parents are given information about school life, from well-being to academics. Is your child eating nutritiously? Is your child getting enough sleep? How can parents support a child during their IB diploma?

According to Simon Stewart, Director of Admissions & Marketing, “one of our students, Lara Woo, received an offer from Oxford. Many parents wanted to know how Lara got into such a good school, so Janet, Lara’s Mum, mentioned how Lara was structured in organising herself, getting in all her academic studies, but also putting wellness into her routine. She also added the importance of communication and creating an environment at home where Laura feels she can express herself. So again, it comes back to a culture and environment integrated at home and school, which allows the student to be self-aware to manage emotions, to communicate and express themselves. That’s how they’re going to excel. That’s how they’re going to do well, and that’s what Emma and Marlon are creating in school.”

To learn more about how your child can benefit from our Well-being Programme at BISS Puxi, contact our admissions teams today.



The British International Shanghai School, Puxi


+86 021 6221 7542