August 23, 2019

Senior School Student Wellbeing Curriculum and Programs

During this year, under the leadership of Ms Nirvana Watkins, Deputy Head of Senior School – Wellbeing Curriculum & Programs, we have enhanced a number of our student wellbeing programs, as well as continuing to integrate elements of wellbeing into our curriculum offerings.

The Development of the Whole Person is one of the pillars in our Strategic Plan. We define it as nurturing the spiritual, academic, physical, emotional and social character of each girl to prepare her to embrace opportunities with confidence, resilience and a sense of responsibility for others. We also know that wellbeing and academic achievement are linked, so it is important that if we aim to maximise the potential of each individual, that a focus on wellbeing is also an important component of a holistic education.

A summary of a number of the key programs and approaches offered at each year level is detailed below to give you an understanding of the breadth of some of our programs.

Year 7

In the transition to Year 7, a key facet of the Wellbeing curriculum is to build a “Connected Community”.  In addition to the extensive Transition Program undertaken at the beginning of the year, connectedness is achieved through explicit teaching of friendship strategies, teamwork and inclusion. Additionally, the tutor group model allows Year 7 students to build close connections with their peers and their tutor with a ratio of 12 students to each tutor teacher.

During Term 3, Year 7 students are delving into personal values and connecting these to the CGGS values of Integrity, Commitment, Respect, Hope and Courage. This inquiry culminates in a Poetry Slam competition in which students express their values through the form of spoken word poetry. It is quite amazing to see the development of the somewhat shy and possibly overwhelmed students that walk through the school gates at the start of the year, to the confident, articulate and values-driven presentations that we see at the end of Term 3!

In addition to this school-based curriculum, Year 7 students also benefit from a number of wellbeing incursions throughout the year, such as Project Rockit. Students also develop their personal skills and connections through the Education Outdoors program and their year level camp, which provides age-appropriate challenges in a safe environment, encouraging risk-taking and a growth mindset.

Year 8 Healthy Minds

The Healthy Minds Program was developed by an award-winning clinical psychologist Dr Tom Nehmy from Adelaide in South Australia. After working as a clinical psychologist in government, corporate and private practice, Dr Nehmy became concerned about the number of clients (both children and adult) who exhibited signs of unhelpful thinking and behavior that could have been prevented.

Dr Nehmy’s observations developed into his PhD research project at Flinders University that has subsequently given rise to the Healthy Minds Program. Published in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, Healthy Minds teaches the skills of effective emotion regulation, helpful decision making and balanced thinking. Healthy Minds was awarded the Flinders University Vice-Chancellor’s Prize and is developing an international reputation in health and education as a highly effective program.

This year CGGS partnered with Dr Nehmy who conducted this program in Year 8 during Term 2, where he trained staff and students and provided information evenings for parents accompanied by weekly parent modules.

We were delighted to be the first school in Victoria to undertake the Healthy Minds Program and we were very grateful to the Parents and Friends Association for providing the funds to undertake this program and accreditation in our pilot year.

Year 9: Pop-Up Learning, Cognizance Project, Enlighten Education

Year 9 Wellbeing has a focus on ‘Personal Growth’ as the underpinning theme for the year. The three key elements of the wellbeing program are:

Pop-Up Learning

Pop-up learning opportunities have allowed students to explore their passions, their future, and the enriching experience of service through a series of two-day special programs. They focused on blending personal communication and collaboration skills with key thematic explorations.

The Pop-Up Learning opportunities have included:

> Service Learning Dignity Conference

> AI for Good Design Thinking Challenge

> Me, You, Us City Experience and Community Exploration

Cognizance Project

The Cognizance Project is a research program in metacognition, undertaken in partnership with Jared Cooney Horvath (University of Melbourne) and Independent Schools Victoria.
More than 200 parents and students attended an introductory session A Tour Through the Teenage Brain with Jared in July. This term students are undertaking 4×90 minute seminars with Jared, focused on ‘Hacking the Brain’ (the metaphor of the brain as a computer is used):

> Get Your Mind Right (Stories and Errors)

> Master the Hardware

> Gaming the System

> Own your Learning

Cognizance aims to build students’ self-awareness of the process of learning and how they can master thinking dispositions and neuroscience to optimize their learning. Our girls were very enthusiastic after their first session with Jared, in which he challenged their perceptions and bent their brains with optical illusions.

Enlighten Education

For the past six years, CGGS has engaged Enlighten Education to deliver their full-day workshops to Year 9 students. The bespoke workshops are tailored to meet the needs of the cohort and focus on building self esteem, interpersonal skills and resilience. At the end of the workshop one of the students commented in her reflection,“I now know to not feel uncomfortable in my own skin, that we can do anything we put our minds to, to take time for myself, how to be safe and assertive and the value of friendship. I loved everything!”

Year 10: Stress, Study, Success

Wellbeing programs in Year 10 are focussed on preparing students for the challenges of Year 10 and their VCE studies. Form groups have delved into the concept of stress and dealing with the negative outcomes of an increased workload. Students have investigated various strategies in order to overcome pessimistic thoughts as well as developing coping strategies. To compliment the focus on managing stress there has been the focus on building a sustainable range of study skills. As students approached the mid-year examinations, they were presented with a number of techniques to assist in their preparation for assessment. An emphasis on individualisation was a key component as we know that students learn, retain and apply information in a range of different ways.

Term 3 has seen a focus on goal setting and the importance of having a growth mindset. Through the use of vision boards students have had the opportunity to develop, set and visualise their goals for the remainder of this year and into the future. With an emphasis on image, colour and slogans, goals have come alive in a form that relates to each individual student. In addition, pop-up learning opportunities have included a session on the importance of inclusion as well as a collaboration to develop a short-film relating to a significant social issue.

Year 11 and 12 Mental Fitness Training – Study Skills

A series of Mental Fitness Training university-style lectures have been provided to students to cultivate healthy dispositions and proactive approaches to learning. These have been the focus of Mental Fitness Training in Year 11 and 12.

The lectures have been tailored to the context and challenges encountered by VCE studentswith themes such asMaximising Study Potentialand Getting Grit and Being Successful. Topics have included:

> Success Scripts

> Sleep, Devices and Study apps

> Feedback and assertive help seeking

> Effort counts twice

> Passion and Skills

Year 11 and 12 Mentoring and Year 10 Big Sister Little Sister Program

House Mentoring occurs fortnightly with the Year 11 and 12 Captains and Leaders taking on the role as mentors. A preparation session takes place each fortnight and there is also a focus on the development of leadership skills for the student facilitators.

A new initiative led by the School Captains this year was the Big Sister Little Sister Programthat commenced in Term 2 and included 1-2 sessions each term.

In this program, Year 10 students mentored Year 7 students. As the program develops it is intended that student connections will be sustained throughout the older students’ VCE years to ensure every student in every year level has a connection to a big sister or little sister.

In addition, Camberwell Girls Grammar School and Camberwell Grammar School have conducted a number of parent education seminars held between both schools. They have included:

> February: Paul Dillon
Risk Taking:  Why do teens do the things they do?  What can parents do to keep them as safe as possible?

> March: Andrew Fuller
Creating Healthy Families

> April: Robyn Treyvaud
The Parent’s Survival Guide to Children, Technology and the Internet

> June: Maree Crabbe
Pornography, Young People and Sexuality Today

> August:  Michael Gordon
Building Resilient Teachers

This seminar series is run annually, and we will advertise the 2020 series early next year.


With best wishes

Debbie Dunwoody


As part of our ongoing commitment to continuously improving the school, we believe it is critical to seek each parent and guardian’s opinion on a range of issues relating to Camberwell Girls Grammar School. Your feedback is very important to us as we continue to build a successful school and strengthen our reputation as an ‘educator of choice’.

As such, we have again engaged the professional services of MYP Corporation (MYPCorp) to undertake a strictly private and confidential School Results Survey on our behalf. The survey should take approximately 10 – 15 minutes and will need to be completed online between Monday 26 August 2019 and Friday 6 September 2019.

At the beginning of next week you will receive survey instructions and a personalised login to complete the survey. While we encourage you to participate, the survey is not compulsory. If you decide that you do not want to complete the survey, simply click ‘unsubscribe’ in the instruction or reminder email. Thank you for your assistance in helping to shape the future direction of Camberwell Girls Grammar School.