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Q&A with BGS Head of Years 5 and 6 Paul Kenny

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

As the Head of Years 5 and 6, I oversee the wellbeing and development of our two youngest cohorts as they progress through their first two years of Middle School.

Years 5 and 6 represent a significant transition period for boys at BGS; they are navigating a new school and adjusting to the increased demands as they progress through school. We recognise the implications this period can have on boys’ ongoing personal development. I work with a team of Form Tutors to support the boys’ development and manage their day to day needs.

Our boys are so enthusiastic and full of life; harnessing all of that energy in the right direction is always an eventful endeavour.

As they become accustomed to BGS culture, being instilled with our traditions, expectations and values (learning, leadership, endeavour, respect and community), they also develop their sense of belonging.

It is very rewarding to see our boys flourish as they build connections with each other and develop their character and intellect through their academic and cocurricular pursuits. Along the way, the joys and pitfalls of boyhood ensure an interesting daily work life.

 

Why were you inspired to work in Student Wellbeing?

I became interested in ways I could positively impact student wellbeing as a teacher, particularly the flow-on effects this could have on personal growth and academic success. As the boys progress through their ‘tweenage’ phase, their wellbeing can be affected by a range of variables. It can be a puzzle at times, and the key to moving beyond obstacles can seem elusive.

Each boy is on his own personal journey, and finding the key to a particular issue affecting his wellbeing is critical to the success of his development.

All boys need to feel valued and supported. When they experience care and concern from significant adults in their lives, they are better able to navigate challenges while maintaining their sense of wellbeing. It is always uplifting when boys understand that you have their wellbeing at heart.

 

What is your favourite rite of passage initiative at BGS?

One of my favourite rites of passage is the annual Year 6 trip. They usually visit Canberra and go skiing, but they went to Far North Queensland this year due to travel restrictions. The trip is a great bonding experience as boys spend a week away with their peers. The boys see it as something of a milestone in their BGS journey. It is a symbolic point of growth as well as the marking of a BGS tradition for them.

 

How can parents enhance their son’s growth and support the School’s Student Wellbeing efforts? 

Playing the ‘long game’ is key: frame everything in the broader perspective of his overall development.

Promote the development of desirable traits and underlying factors for success, such as openness and conscientiousness. Self-confidence, trust and personal responsibility can be built by enabling a sense of freedom and independence within realistic boundaries, coupled with a clear understanding of expectations.

Keeping your son active and engaged with a variety of activities helps to foster meaningful social connections. Of course, this won’t always be smooth sailing; be prepared for the unexpected reactions and changes that come with the territory of tweens. Let him face the consequences of homework not being done or other infractions that arise. There is no better time in life to learn and be shaped by these valuable experiences.

Always be a supportive ear, empathise with his situation (where you can), encourage frequent reflection and become an expert in managing the use of technology.

It is also advantageous for boys to see their parents and school are in a partnership and are aligned in their goals and actions. Attending school events such as parent information evenings and social gatherings further assists our efforts to promote student wellbeing.

 

If you had to name one thing that sets BGS apart from other schools, what would it be?

A BGS education is not easy to replicate. The collective strength of the BGS community has realised a long tradition of vision and organisational cohesion. The many benefits of this cohesion have produced a standard that has borne the test of time.

In forging capacity and character, a BGS education engenders self-belief. The attributes of BGS students as independent and confident young men able to contribute to their communities has long been a hallmark of a Brisbane Grammar School education.

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