We want all boys to have effective tools to help them cope with disappointment, learn how to support others and be resilient.
The wellbeing program at Newington is a partnership program between parents, teachers and boys.
Mental health and wellbeing issues are important topics in the media and are shaping the way our governments write policies.
We want to teach our boys:
- How to have an honest conversation about mental and emotional health
- Lifelong tools for mental and emotional flexibility and endurance
- What good character traits are
- How to build resilience
Transitioning into Year 7
The Year 7 wellbeing program is centred on the notion of ‘transition’ and aims to improve students’ experiences as they move to high school. The program starts with activities that allow boys to familiarise themselves with their ‘mentor’ and the new school including an orientation camp.
The Pursuit of Happiness in Year 8
The theme for Year 8 is from Aristotle’s teaching - “happiness depends on ourselves.” One of the most difficult realities for many to grasp is that thoughts and actions directly determine our own happiness. Boys explore themes related to bullying, put downs, how to build long lasting friendships and manage disagreements as well as how to build perseverance, generosity and forgiveness.
Year 9s Take Control
Through mentor group discussions and Year group meetings we explore how boys will be challenged, not by the things that happen to them but by the attitudes that can develop from those events. We aim to nurture a positive mindset so the boys embrace rather than avoid challenges.
Year 10 is all about taking responsibility.
Boys are encouraged to take responsibility for all areas of their lives, at school and at home. This includes how they present themselves, how they interact with and influence their peers, how they learn from challenges and mistakes, how they study and how they organise their lives. The program builds towards helping boys make informed decisions about their pathway for Years 11 and 12 in all areas; academic, co-curricular, service, leadership. They are given opportunities to research, discuss and evaluate these possibilities and develop the skills to make the most of their senior years.
Taking the Lead in Year 11
The ‘Taking the Lead’ program assists students transition into Senior school and prepares them for leadership positions. All Year 11 boys are given the opportunity to take up the role of Acting House Prefect and receive training. To help students manage their increasing responsibilities and commitments we hold regular mentor group discussions and presentations from external speakers and specialist teaching staff throughout the year.
Leaders in Year 12
In Year 12, the focus is on leadership, time management, motivation, goal setting and relationship skills. Year 12s explore the meaning of success and what to expect after they leave the College.
The House System
The Newington College House system provides students with an excellent network of peers and mentors.
Its underlying purpose is to facilitate educational, cultural and social development. Houses are structured in a ‘vertical’ manner, where older boys act as peer support leaders for our younger students. As they get older, our young boys develop into leaders themselves and take on the same roles as those that they looked up to in their early years.
There are 16 Houses and this structures whole school activities such as Inter-House Competition Days.
Benefits of the House System
The benefit of our House system is two-fold - young boys are inspired by their elders while the older boys have the opportunity to serve as role models. Supporting this fluid framework of peer support learning is a network of dedicated teacher-mentors as well as one Head of House for each of the College’s 16 Houses. The structure offers all students a positive network of teachers and boys that they can be a part of. Throughout the year, various activities and House competition days help boys build friendships outside of the classroom.
- Bavin – Sir Thomas Rainsford Bavin, (Old Boy and Premier of New South Wales)
- Clunies Ross – Sir (William) Ian Clunies Ross 1899–1959 (Old Boy and Chairman of the CSIRO)
- Cooper – Sr Margaret Cooper, appointed 1958 until her death in1981 (Wyvern House matron)
- Fletcher – Rev JH Fletcher 1865–1887 (President of the College)
- Gilligan – Annie Gilligan, appointed 1863 (First female member of staff)
- Johnstone – Headmaster T Johnston 1864–1866
- Kelynack – Rev Dr W Kelynack 1887–1891 (President of the College)
- Le Couteur – Headmaster PR Le Couteur 1931–1948
- Mackay – Sir Iven Giffard Mackay, 1882–1966 (Newington’s highest ranking soldier)
- Manton – Rev JA Manton 1863–1864 (President of the College)
- Metcalfe – Headmaster G Metcalfe 1867–1869 (President of the College)
- Morrison – Jan Morrison, appointed 1978 (Head of the Library and Resources Centre)
- Moulton – Headmaster Rev DR JE Moulton 1863
- Prescott – Headmaster Rev Dr CJ Prescott 1900–1931
- Whitaker – Edith Whitaker, appointed 1942 (First female subject head)
- Tupou – King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, 1918–2006 (the College’s only Old Boy head of state)
Role of the Mentor
Each boy has a mentor, whose responsibility is to get to know your son and to know him well. The mentor is the primary carer for your son while at the College and will guide him in all aspects of College life; from making sure he has his online school diary sorted out, to helping him with any concerns he might have while at Newington.
As your son moves from Year 8 to Year 9, his mentor stays with him. Often at the end of his time at Newington, your son will find that he has a strong support network amongst all his teachers, and a close bond with his Mentor forged over five years of shared experiences.
During Mentor periods, your son’s mentor will discuss and explore key themes in the Well-Being Program with your son. They hold discussions among the 14-16 boys in mentor groups regarding these themes. Lifelong friendships often emerge within Mentor groups as they fulfil leadership, Service Learning and House chapel duties together.
Our school counsellors are a vital component of the wellbeing program. We have two educational psychologists on campus to help students and parents deal with personal, emotional, educational and family issues. Specifically the counsellors spend time helping boys to:
- Develop lifelong skills to help them succeed interpersonally and academically so that they are prepared for obstacles that they may face.
- To actualise their potential and understand that their personal wellbeing and happiness is paramount in their lives
- Gain a better understanding of the relationships between their own abilities, achievements, interests and opportunities
- Gain a sense of personal worth, develop an accompanying trust and acceptance of others and develop responsibility for their choices and behaviours.
Teaching Positive Psychology
The Heads of House and Year 9 Mentors at the College have been trained to teach Positive Psychology and Mental Fitness programs. These programs help the boys to develop vital wellbeing skills in a comprehensive, engaging and age appropriate manner during the critical years when adolescent boys are at their most vulnerable.
These skills assist our boys during their school experience and will ultimately help them to lead happier and more fulfilled lives.
Research shows that depression is about 10 times more common now than it was 50 years ago and that the average age of first onset has decreased from adulthood to adolescence. Whilst everything may seem materially better than it was 50 years ago, life satisfaction shows little improvement. There is a critical need for this to be addressed through positive psychology and education.
Positive Psychology is not a “happy” program where boys learn how to smile and always enjoy life, but rather a mode of thinking that allows students to understand their character strengths and approach challenges with an air of optimism. It is pragmatic in its approach to self and helps boys to develop critical thinking skills that will support them to solve problems and manage the challenges that they face. It also includes discussions on goal setting, thinking traps, assertive communication and leadership.
During Mentor periods in Term 1, Year 9 boys engage in mental fitness programs that examine mental strength, endurance and flexibility. Boys learn:
- the importance of critical thinking skills
- how to acknowledge their own strong attributes
- to develop mental endurance that supports learning and time management in the classroom and at home
- mental flexibility that helps them to understand that thinking and opinions are changeable
The small size of our Mentor group structure makes this process very easy, and the fact that our Mentors in Year 9 have already come to know their students over the past year prior to commencing their Positive Psychology, is of great benefit.
Boys as Leaders
Leadership is not something that can be taught explicitly, but something that can be modelled and mentored from a very early age. Leadership is about knowing when to step up – or when to step down. It starts a conversation about citizenship, social responsibility and community-mindedness. At Newington we don’t ‘teach’ our boys to be leaders. Rather, we support them in their search for a style of personal leadership that also encourages trust and respect through various opportunities.
Student Leadership Initiatives
When boys reach Year 10 they are presented with a more formal program for demonstrating leadership which includes social and personal presentation workshops, the Year 10 leadership program, Cadets and outdoor education programs like the Newington Challenge. Volunteering in community outreach programs and being a peer support leader are other paths boys can take to hone their leadership skills.
Our extensive wellbeing program works hand in hand with our Service Learning program, which encourages boys to care for others within our immediate and wider community. On top of the leadership opportunities and the peer support opportunities, all boys are encouraged to involve themselves in care programs for those in need.