I recently spoke to the Good Weekend about the holistic approach Meriden takes to fostering the wellbeing of our students. Click here to view the feature and read my interview below.
What is Meriden’s approach to wellbeing? Is it embedded across the school in different programs/activities? Are there specific wellbeing programs?
Student wellbeing is fundamental to the sense of community and culture that exists at Meriden. The aim of the pastoral program is to care for each girl in her uniqueness, allowing the conditions for deep learning and positive connections across the School. Each day, girls at Meriden meet with their pastoral tutor and other girls in their year group. In these tutor groups, students discuss and reflect on contemporary issues and challenges, and participate in House initiatives with girls in other year groups. Our pastoral program aims to help our girls identify and develop their strengths. The key components that are woven through our programs include self-awareness, healthy relationships, ethical responsibility, service and finding purpose.
How does Meriden’s approach to wellbeing differ from Year 7 to Year 9 to Year 12?
At Meriden, each year group has a theme that shapes their wellbeing program. Our “Strong Foundations” program helps to equip Year 7 students with the knowledge and skills to navigate the transition to high school.
In Year 9, students are challenged to turn their gaze outward to consider how they can use their strengths and gifts to serve others. In our “Looking Outward” program, students identify their values and strengths, consider important social justice issues, and engage in a year-long service project in which they serve the community in a number of ways.
During the final year of schooling, the “Stepping Out” program is designed to help prepare students for life after school. It provides practical advice and skills on a range of topics such as financial planning, women’s health, rights in the workplace and public engagement.
How does Meriden encourage positive relationships?
Meriden’s pastoral care program ensures that each student is known individually and encourages them to build positive relationships in all areas of their lives. Students learn how to respond to challenges and how to recognise, explore and manage their own emotions and responses to others. Difficult conversations are not avoided (e.g. consent, racism, bullying), as we consider how we can develop empathy and respect for all and celebrate our differences. Meriden fosters a positive, happy and inclusive environment, and consequently, there is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst the girls across all year groups.
Has the experience of remote learning led to any changes in Meriden’s approach to wellbeing?
We believe that students thrive when they are afforded ample opportunities to become involved in a wide range of academic and cocurricular pursuits at school. Since emerging from lockdown, Meriden has seen a significant surge in participation in cocurricular activities, and as a result, we have appointed a Dean of Student Involvement to oversee the integration of cocurricular opportunities into a holistic approach to each student’s education. We have also appointed a Dean of Community Learning to help develop programs that encourage students to engage in a range of community service projects as we have reflected on the importance of community engagement and felt the loss of these during the pandemic. We believe that when girls are purposefully engaged in a range of pursuits and interests, and when they are given opportunities to look outside themselves and find ways they can serve others in the world, their individual wellbeing is improved.
What role does faith play in Meriden’s approach to wellbeing?
Meriden’s approach to student wellbeing and pastoral care is informed by the School’s Christian foundations and the belief that human flourishing is found through a relationship with Jesus. Our pastoral approach is shaped by the values of compassion, service, perseverance and love and we work to instil these values in all our students. Our hope is that the girls’ lives will be enriched by their experience of faith at Meriden as they learn more about God, themselves and others.