That was the question I was asked by my 9-year-old son last week. At the time I thought it was his way of questioning how many times he would have to wash his hands, being able to touch equipment, sit next to his friends or celebrate that playground winning goal with a hug and a high-5.
The reality was, as we discussed things, that what he was wanting to understand was how he would feel. Would he feel happy, feel safe, feel supported and would he feel well? In my adult world, he was asking, would wellbeing have the same priority as his numeracy and literacy?
We have all had to face a reality check on what is important in our lives during these unprecedented times, and as a children’s charity, at the Youth Sport Trust we are no different. The reality is we have always been on a mission to improve children’s wellbeing and to support schools and stakeholders to put wellbeing at the heart of everything they do. It is just that COVID-19 has accelerated our mission and means our ambition to create a Well School movement is more important than ever.
The purpose of the movement is to support schools to drive improvements in wellbeing for all teachers, senior leaders and young people by placing wellbeing at the very heart of school life. It isn’t a programme, quality mark or intervention, it’s all of us coming together to drive change, share challenges and solutions and help us navigate all the support that is already available. As a member of the team at the Youth Sport Trust driving this approach, and as a parent of three children due to return to school, there has never been a better opportunity or reason to do this.
We shouldn’t be waiting for policy, strategy, investment or a mandate. This is about ensuring our schools are WELL LED by a staff body that is supported and well themselves. It is about ensuring children are WELL EQUIPPED with the skills and characteristics they need to thrive and achieve their potential in employment and life, and it is about them being WELL PREPARED through experiences which enable them to adapt to the challenges of adulthood and shape their knowledge and personalities to be social and human.
Let me be clear, this isn’t about schools abandoning their educational priorities and suddenly delivering health programmes. This is about having a deep-rooted understanding that the evidence and principle of addressing the decline in children’s wellbeing will ensure improvements in progress and achievement. It is about educating the heart and the mind, leading to a well-rounded young person equipped with the skills and experiences to take their place in the world; developing citizens that are ready for their future.
That is what I want my son’s school to be like when he returns. I want his school to have a culture and ethos that you can see, feel and hear that says: “we will prioritise your wellbeing and ensure you are ready to learn and be able to be the best that you can be."
Isn’t that what we want every school to be like when we go back to school? A Well School.
To join the movement and start your journey to becoming a Well School please visit www.youthsporttrust.org/wellschool.