Well-being Education @ ACS (Independent)
On 1 March 1886, Reverend William Fitzjames Oldham founded Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) with the purpose of nurturing students to be of service “for God and humanity.”
Bishop Oldham’s vision was for ACS to not only provide good academic education, but that the school should also strive to educate students with good morals and habits consistent with Christian values.
In line with Bishop Oldham’s vision of holistic development, ACS (Independent) piloted the Pastoral Care and Career Guidance (PCCG) programme in 1988, with the objectives to inculcate moral values, build character, develop leadership traits, explore various education / career pathways and equip students with the knowledge and skills related to well-being.
The World Health Organization defines well-being as the presence of a state in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community (WHO, 2001).
Research has shown that a focus on well-being leads to improvement in:
- Student and teacher well-being
- Academic engagement and participation
- Retention rates
- Social and emotional skills
- Pro-social behavior
- Academic results
(Durlak et al., 2011; Gray & Hackling, 2009; Noble & McGrath, 2012; Suldo et al., 2010; Bird & Markle, 2012).
Well-being Education (WE) is a whole-school approach with a clear direction in mind –
To place Well-being at the Heart of Education.
It focuses on building knowledge and skills that help students to strengthen their relationships, develop positive emotions, increase personal resilience and foster a healthy lifestyle.
Through WE, ACS (Independent) aims to provide its students with an enhanced capacity to learn effectively and offer them a strong foundation on which they can build a flourishing life.
ACS (Independent) Well-being Education Model
In order to embed WE in the school community, a conceptual and applied model was developed as a roadmap for everyone to understand how well-being can be conscientiously and deliberately nurtured within the school family. Figure 1 shows the ACS (Independent) WE Model which consists of four domains.
Figure 1: ACS (Independent) Well-being Education (WE) Model
The First Domain – Starting with the inside of the model, we see a “Shield” and the ACS’s motto, “The Best is yet to Be.” The desired outcome we have for the students, staff, parents, alumni and our wider community is that they will experience the Best Life and flourish. Living the best life is simply a combination of feeling good and doing good (Norrish, 2015).
- Feeling good refers to a wide range of emotions such as love, gratitude, passion and hope. It also represents a healthy acceptance of negative experiences with the willingness to grow and learn.
- Doing good refers to caring for others, nurturing positive and strong relationships, and using one’s knowledge and skills to make a difference in the family, nation and the global community.
The Second Domain – Character strengths are capacities humans have for thinking, feeling and behaving. Specifically, they are the psychological ingredient for displaying virtues or human goodness (VIA Institute of Character, 2015).
The Third Domain – Building on Martin Seligman’s Well-being Theory (Seligman, 2012), the six elements of well-being are positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning, accomplishment and health (PERMAH). Each of these six elements will contribute towards an individual experiencing the best life, as supported by psychology research and science.
The Fourth Domain – Finally, as we move to the outermost circle of the Well-being Education Model, we see the repeated phrases “Learn, Live, Teach, Embed” (Norrish, 2015). To bring our model from rhetoric to reality, the school will need to engage students, staff and stakeholders such as parents on all four levels, as elaborated in the “Learn, Live, Teach, Embed” framework in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Learn, Live, Teach, Embed
ACS’s mission is to be a ‘Beacon of Truth and Light’. As a school family, ACS is called to shine our light before others, so that many may see the good works and give glory to God. By focusing on well-being, it is our hope that the school community will inspire, radiate and be a blessing in our family, nation and the global community.
 Testimonial Dinner Address of Bishop William Fitzjames Oldham at the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ohio. December 17, 1929.