'Students need our support'
Principal Mary Daly has no doubt but that the sharper focus on wellbeing throughout the three years of junior cycle will contribute directly to the physical, mental, academic and social wellbeing of students.
She says learning involves the construction of identity as well as the acquisition of skills, and that students' beliefs about themselves are significantly impacted by the values and assumptions about learning that both they, and their teachers, bring to the classroom.
The principal of the 350-pupil St Dominic's Secondary School Ballyfermot, Dublin says the junior cycle years are an important time, when young people learn to take greater responsibility for their lives and to cope with new challenges, experiences, influences and pressures.
"Schools have a central role to play in supporting young people in a world where students are exposed to a range of economic, political, environmental and social influences. They certainly require support to make positive, responsible decisions relating to their health and well-being and the wellbeing of others," she says. Ms Daly believes that it is important that the whole school community build and share a common understanding of wellbeing so that students can flourish.
St Dominic's already has a tried and trusted induction programme for first years, called Mol an Óige, to ensure they make a smooth transition.
The investment St Dominic's makes in its pupils throughout their time at the school translates into a particularly strong track record, for a school in a disadvantaged area, in retaining students all the way to Leaving Cert.