On stress at school

The first part of the year is already drawing to a close. It has gone by so quickly, and I have so many things that I want to talk to you about that I have the impression I’ll never have the time to get everything done. So this week would seem to be the ideal opportunity to talk to you about stress and well-being – not mine though – rather that of our students.

The French Section is a demanding school that requires a great deal of personal investment from everyone involved. Our teachers want the very best for their students, they work very hard to ensure that is what the students get, and as a result, they are constantly questioning and reconfiguring their teaching methods. Our students’ parents are ambitious for their children and wish to be well-informed, but it can be hard to navigate the sea of contradictory information that exists out there and it is hard to reconcile the world they grew up in with the one their children are growing up in today.  

Students, especially teenagers need to find a balance between wanting to succeed at school, managing the expectations the adults in their lives have for them and their own desire to thrive inside of school and out. We are well used to hearing about the importance of the work-life balance, but the study-life balance is not as common a talking point and its importance has been underestimated. In our experience, there is a lot of catching up to do.

In order to get a better understanding of the types of stress our students are facing and with a view to offering solutions, we have given the FS Biology teacher, Ms Roy, the responsibility of coordinating a Health pathway aimed at all of our secondary students. This pathway will deal with issues such as food, sleep and sport.

There will be no sermonising or lecturing during Health pathway activities. It is very much our role as educators to discuss health from a scientific point of view rather than a moralising one. Take for example playing video games. We could very well go on for hours about their disadvantages and advantages (there are some you know!), but discussions, based on personal bias, impressions and experience wouldn’t get us very far. Instead, if we make the effort to go beyond opinion and deal solely with facts, we will find ourselves better equipped to make the right decisions autonomously and independently. Getting back to video games, it is interesting to note that science tells us playing them just before bedtime has a real impact on the quality of sleep and therefore on fatigue levels the following day.  

All of our secondary classes will have moments dedicated to health education this year as part of the Health pathway. We’ll be providing them with the practical tools they need to lead a healthier life. We know that families have a vast role to play in the health of their children and so we are inviting you to join us in bringing about these changes – please see the note from the secondary assistant head, Mr Lefevre in Monday’s weekly memo for practical information about how parents and health professionals can get involved in the Health committee.   

Have an excellent weekend!


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