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Mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important as academic progress

We are often asked about creating a truly effective and supportive pastoral culture in schools and at OIC Brighton we believe in the deep connection between academic progress and strong mental health and wellbeing.

"The setting and design of our brand-new campus in Brighton is incredibly important in developing the culture of our college and promoting wellbeing"

Our goal is to provide an intellectual approach to wellbeing that will set our students up for success in the long term. Students’ mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important as their academic progress. That’s why we have incorporated social and emotional learning into our curriculum.

This teaches our students skills such as self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy, helping them to manage their emotions and relationships effectively. We are confident that our approach to wellbeing will set our students up for success, both academically and personally, whilst promoting a strong sense of community based on kindness and tolerance.

Our track record demonstrates that our students are not only well-prepared strategically for top universities, they also thrive as alumni of the college in their respective universities and careers.

The setting and design of our brand-new campus in Brighton is also incredibly important in developing the culture of our college and promoting wellbeing. In our purpose-built wellness centre, students can access counselling and mental health services or consult our onsite medical staff.  In our world-class boarding facilities, they are encouraged to be independent within the safety and comfort of a campus environment.

Tess remembers, as an undergraduate, being told that her Cambridge college was designed to be beautiful, based on a longstanding belief that natural beauty and architectural harmony promote high minded thought. Our Brighton campus celebrates this ability of the natural world to inspire. Our students will benefit from the now proven positive impact of nature on mental health: from the backdrop of the green South Downs hills to the nearby ocean, as well as the conservation area of woodland which we have preserved in the college grounds.

And let’s not overlook the important socialising function of a school and the importance of social interactions for young people. This is particularly pertinent to international boarding schools. Parents will want to know about the type of people their child is learning and interacting alongside, and being taught by.

At OIC Brighton we place a strong emphasis on creating a positive and inclusive school culture. Our community is made up of diverse people with shared values and aspirations. Bringing together the best minds will have an enormous academic impact but the social effect is equally important: being inspired by others, being motivated by collaborations and influenced by new and exciting ways of thinking and doing things.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought unique challenges to all students and their families. The sudden shift to remote learning and social isolation has taken a toll on students’ mental health, and the OIC team has worked tirelessly to address these issues head-on.

We’ve incorporated new ways of learning, training teachers to use the latest online tools and incorporating this into our pedagogical approach of active learning, spaced repetition and learning retrieval. Nord Anglia’s research into members Generation Z from all around the world bears out what we’ve learned from experience: the key skills this generation wants to succeed in work and life are confidence, resilience and metacognition.

“Our Super Curricular program is built on the philosophy that true education is about more than just academics”

We have a unique way of developing these skills in our students: the OIC Super Curriculum, designed by Yasmin to develop the attributes that take our students to top universities and future career success. Our Super Curricular program is built on the philosophy that true education is about more than just academics.

It’s about developing the whole person and helping students discover their passions and interests. Whether our students are joining a medical training workshop or getting project tips on rocket building from an MIT expert; competing as a solo musician with Nord Anglia students from all around the world or joining an embassy to the United Nations, their lives at OIC Brighton will be full of opportunities for personal and academic development.

With rich personal development, deep systems of pastoral support and our strategic approach to academic success, the OIC approach sets up students for future success. It is with genuine excitement and awe that we look to the future of OIC Brighton, confident that our pioneering students will amaze us with all that they will achieve.

About the authors: This is a sponsored post from Yasmin Sarwar and Tess St Clair-Ford at OIC Brighton.

Chief Education Officer of OIC Brighton, Yasmin Sarwar, defines herself as an Edupreneur, challenging the sometimes conservative attitude to education and championing a competitive modern approach in which leaders are adept at all aspects of running their schools. She is leading the education field in making sure that innovations lead to positive evolution.





Founding Principal of OIC Brighton, Tess St Clair-Ford brings experience in leadership in international education and in top UK boarding schools, bringing together the best from both educational cultures. She is an advocate for student wellbeing and pastoral systems which support academic excellence and personal development.



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