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Mental Toughness – Developing the Well-being of Our Students

17 September 2015

"I think having mental toughness will help me to get out of a bad situation better and might help me to handle new situations." Year 8 student

  • Vice Principal Message

As a school community, we of course want to ensure that all of our children flourish and so we place great emphasis on ensuring that we support students to develop the key characteristics required to be their best. 

One area that we are particularly focusing on this year is that of Mental Toughness which has emerged as a significant factor in the development of young people and their ability to thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Mental toughness relates to how we deal effectively with stress, pressure and challenge and it helps to build “hardiness”- our ability to enjoy and seek adversity and develop preferences for operating in challenging environments. Mental toughness has been shown to directly impact on well-being, resilience and positive behaviours, and so it logically follows that the higher the level of mental toughness, the more an individual is able to deal with the pressure, stressors and challenges of everyday life and so the greater their levels of well-being. This in turn translates into better outcomes such as greater school engagement, improved performance, higher aspiration levels, better exam results and increased employability.

Throughout our PHSE programmes in Years 7-9 we will be looking at Mental Toughness and students will be exposed to the four key requirements for mental toughness;

Control - sense of control over our emotions and management of life demands

Challenge - perceptions of challenges as problems or opportunities

Commitment - stickability – ability to persist, see through the tough times and meet deadlines and keep promises

Confidence - sense of self belief, agency, self-efficacy.  Ability to take setbacks in our stride, be more assertive and less dependent on external validation.

Students will be supported to identify their own personal character strengths and given tools and strategies to further develop in each of the key areas of mental toughness. We want each child to have a better self-awareness of how they can harness their identified strengths and develop new ones to ensure that they get the most out of their education and lives.

We also want to empower students to create a supportive peer culture where they are able to help each other to grow and thrive and so we are developing a BISS peer coaching programme. This programme will be launched later this term with a group of approximately 20 Year 9 students being selected for coaching training. These students will be selected based on their perceived ability to become effective peer coaches and then will undergo a full training programme based on the coaching model shared by *Clive Leach. On completion of their training and practice sessions, this group of peer coaches will share with their year group and be available to support their peers. This first wave of peer-coaches would also then be instrumental in helping to train the next group of peer-coaches. In this way, we hope to raise the awareness and skill level of students to be involved in supportive conversations and develop a genuine culture of peer-peer support.

It is a very exciting journey for us and we are confident that our focus on wellbeing, mental toughness and positive mindset will have positive outcomes for our students. We will keep sharing the interesting things we are doing and, most importantly, the impact they are having on our students' levels of well-being.

*Clive Leach is an expert Organisational Coach who has been working with BISS Puxi staff, students and parents on different aspects of coaching and well-being. http://www.cliveleach.com

Niki Meehan, Vice Principal

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The British International School Shanghai, Puxi

111 Jinguang RoadHuacao TownMinhang201107Shanghai


金光路111号华漕镇上海市 闵行区201107

Nord Anglia Education

4th Floor, Nova South
160 Victoria Street
LondonUnited Kingdom

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