The four independent schools in Aberdeen have joined forces to help boost youngsters’ mental health as they struggle to cope with the “paradigm shift” of the pandemic.
Collectively known as Aberdeen Independent Schools (AIS), they have organised the virtual “wellbeing in difficult times” series for later this month.
The event, taking place entirely online, is thought to be the first of its kind for the city.
Each talk will cover a different aspect of mental health and wellbeing, with the first hosted by International School Aberdeen (ISA) on February 18.
During the seminar, consultant psychologist Bruce Lawrie will discuss how to develop confidence “in our ability to exercise control over our lives”.
It will be followed on March 2 by Robert Gordon’s College, when guest speakers Jane Lunnon, Lena Carter and Graham Goulden will address audiences.
St Margaret’s School For Girls will host psychiatrist Tharaka Gunarathne, who will discuss resilience on March 17.
The series of events will be brought to a close by Mental Health Aberdeen chief executive Astrid Whyte, at a seminar hosted by Albyn School on March 30.
Nicholas Little, ISA head of school, said: “Student wellbeing is at the heart of every school and at ISA we strive to provide extra care and support to each one of our learners, allowing them to reach their maximum potential in a way that works for them.
“We recognise that an active and healthy lifestyle is a vital component to our students’ wellbeing.
“A physical outlet provides children with routine, purpose, and fun throughout the challenges they are facing during lockdown.
“In spite of the global pandemic and the subsequent move to online learning, our students continue to thrive, and we believe that by incorporating physical activity into their lives, they can stay emotionally healthy and reach their full learning potential.
“As we prepare to host the first in the series of AIS online seminars, we would like to invite the wider local community to join us as we explore the fundamental link between a healthy mind and body.”
Robin Macpherson, the head of Robert Gordon’s College, said the seminars will provide an “exciting space for public debate” and added: “We are living through a paradigm shift that has come at immense cost, but also promises a brave new dawn if we think courageously.
“I am hugely excited to be hosting a panel debate on March 2 with three of the UK’s leading voices in education.”
Anna Tomlinson, head of St Margaret’s School for Girls, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with the other independent schools in Aberdeen to support our local community in exploring wellbeing and resilience as we move together through the pandemic.
“Developing a personal understanding of mental and physical wellbeing is at the heart of our curriculum at St Margaret’s, and we look forward to welcoming Dr T as he explores his five key areas to better resilience.”
And David Starbuck, acting head of Albyn School, said: “This collaboration is an opportunity to share our resources and talents with the whole Aberdeen community as we all begin to look hopefully at a post-pandemic future for the area.
“One of the strengths of all the independent schools in Aberdeen is their commitment to the wellbeing of their pupils and their families, and I hope that we are able to provide useful strategies and insights for everyone.
“We are pleased to welcome Astrid Whyte to our virtual seminar and look forward to her insights into how families can support one another to get through this time with as much positive gain for family relationships as possible.”
Places for each of the free seminars can be booked at eventbrite.co.uk