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A Partnership to Promote Student Wellbeing

Working together as a community to promote the happiness and wellbeing of the young people in our care.

Robbie Davies, Head of Freemen's Upper School, reflects on how the School is taking steps to promote the happiness and wellbeing of students in today's society. The launch of a series of Parent Seminars hopes to help equip parents with advice on how to tackle challenges that may lie ahead.

Barely a day that passes without one of our media outlets providing more evidence that growing up in the modern world poses huge challenges to young people. In an environment powered by the ecstasy of the Instagram ‘like’, the gratification of the Snapchat streak or the hilarity of a short burst of a TikTok, our young people are growing up connected to a world of which many of us have little experience. Off-line, the modern world presents such great contradiction that for both old and young, confusion is abound. Whilst the comforts of modernity offer feelings of shelter and security, are the images we see becoming more toxic, sexualised and radical?

As parents and educators, we continue to extol the virtues which have served generations well, encouraging children to exercise caution, to not take all at face value and to use their common sense; and rightly so. But we must ask ourselves: whilst we mostly agree on the character traits we wish young people to have, how can we ensure that the advice we are giving is the most relevant and purposeful it can be to reflect the every changing modern environment? The challenges of parenthood are nothing new, but have our responses and instincts adapted to best reflect the modern world in which our young people are growing up? It has been in light of these sorts of conversations, with the pastoral team here at Freemen’s and in particular with the parental community, that we have brought together our plans for a parent seminar programme.

Our speakers have been carefully selected and chosen for their expertise. We have purposefully looked to try and cover as broad a range of topics as possible, but I welcome suggestions that may improve the programme in future years.

Julie Johnson’s insights on the party scene have been well received by the Freemen’s community in previous years, and it is a pleasure to welcome her back to kick off the programme. Julie’s focus on ‘the party scene’ will be as invaluable as ever; I know from talking to parents that balancing the desire to allow young people the freedom they crave, with the desire to set boundaries to protect them as they begin to explore the possibilities of night life, is a challenge and Julie will provide some sage advice on how to facilitate those conversations. 

After that we welcome Andrew Foster from Tougher Minds, a pioneering organisation really pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the human mind and how these insights can be applied to both education and the business worlds. Their world has been lauded, included receiving the Independent Schools Award for Education Initiative of the Year, and we look forward to hearing him explore the prescient issue of cultivating resilience in young people.

Third on our programme we welcome Richard Shorter, founder of the celebrated website non-perfectdad.co.uk. Richard’s knowledge and expertise has seen him work for some of the most prestigious organisations in the country, including the RFU and the ECB. Supporting a child on their sporting journey is an often underappreciated challenge: how many of you have felt the urge to pick up the phone to the school when finding out your prodigal talent has been ‘dropped’ for the weekend’s fixture?

Finally, we welcome back Deana Puccio from the RAP Project. Presenting her unique insights from her work at the District Attorney’s office in New York, through to parenting girls through City of London Schools and university, her candour and knowledge of the impact the sexualisation of the 21st century has had on our young people will be frank, engaging and challenging.

The aim of these seminars is not to preach or to patronise, or, unfortunately, to give parents all the answers on how they can best support their children in the modern world. The aim here is to help them feel informed, to encourage them to reflect and share their experiences, so we can work best together as a community to promote the happiness and wellbeing of the young people in our care.

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