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Q&A with BGS Director of Student Wellbeing Programs Philippa Douglas

What does your role involve, and what do you enjoy about your role?

As the Director of Student Wellbeing Programs, I’m responsible for the Student Wellbeing Curriculum and associated activities. I am also responsible for the School’s Public Purpose program (community service), Global Citizenship program (immersion projects), and Leadership Development programs. I work closely with Heads of Year, Assistant Heads of Year, and the Director of Outdoor Education to develop and implement coordinated programs and activities that enhance students’ wellbeing and create leadership opportunities.

One of the greatest enjoyments in my role has been witnessing the increasing engagement of boys in the various Student Wellbeing programs and their growth as thoughtful, caring, and reflective young men. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues to create experiences that offer students unique, challenging and meaningful outcomes. I also enjoy the innovative component of the role, and I am excited to see the effects of the various experiences on students, staff, and the wider school community.


Why were you inspired to work in Student Wellbeing?

Throughout my time in education, I have tried my hand at different roles, and those that focus on enhancing the wellbeing of students particularly resonate with me.

Student wellbeing underpins every aspect of a young person’s schooling, from understanding who they are, their ability to learn in class, to building positive relationships. Wellbeing is a fundamental component of the school experience.

Young people’s social and emotional development is too important to be left to chance. By supporting the growth of every child, not just academically but also socially and emotionally, we equip them to realise their aspirations, so they can become the best version of themselves and contribute in positive ways to our society.


How do you identify concerns and support boys’ wellbeing?

I’m always learning to ensure our Student Wellbeing programs stay well-informed of the latest research and best practice. This involves extensive reading, listening to endless podcasts, attending professional development, and connecting with experts in their field, whether local, national, or international.

At school, I work closely with the Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School, Head of Middle School, Heads of Year, and the Director of Counselling and Academic Services to identify social trends and concerns. Working with such diverse and incredibly knowledgeable people enables me to ascertain boys’ social and emotional needs at different developmental stages and create programs in response.

Data from student pulse check surveys and Student Wellbeing surveys are also instrumental in developing and reviewing programs.


What are your favourite Student Wellbeing initiatives at BGS and why?

That’s a hard question to answer as there are so many great initiatives. One of my favourites would be our Public Purpose program. In working with boys over two decades, I have learned they have big hearts and a desire to help others. The number of boys participating in our Public Purpose program continues to grow, and their leadership in this area reflects they have a greater purpose than themselves.

Our future depends on a generation of thoughtful and confident young men of character ready to forge more inclusive, just, and peaceful societies for all. Through service, boys develop the capacity to appreciate and understand diverse perspectives and experiences, nurturing their ability to show empathy and compassion for others.

One initiative within the Public Purpose program that will always hold a place in my heart is the partnership between BGS, Communify, and Kelvin Grove Junior School. Since 2013, BGS boys have walked down to the eXchange in Kelvin Grove, where they have tutored their peers from KGJS. Watching friendships develop across different age groups, cultures, and backgrounds is truly transformational for everyone involved.


What is the best advice you have for students?

Be kind. Whether directly involved in an exchange of kindness or witness to it, we’re forever changed and bound to pass it on. The ripple effect of kindness can be far-reaching and long-lasting and can impact others in ways we can’t imagine. Kindness is contagious; pass it on.

Be you. Try not to compare yourself to others. There will always be people who appear to be better off than you and outwardly living the perfect life. Be the best version of you. You are unique. Your life is different. And it’s always better that way.

You belong; you matter.

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