Character and Well-Being Development at Prince Alfred College.

Author: Dr. John Kinniburgh. PAC Head of Secondary School & Deputy Headmaster.

Given the challenges relating to mental health, academic pressures, social engagement and personal healthy, it is certainly not easy being a young person today. As a result, few would contest the notion that the role of a contemporary independent school is to equip young people with the skills to succeed in a world that is complicated, unpredictable and challenging, even for the most able.

At Prince Alfred College our belief is that a child’s education should focus on developing the holistic needs of the individual and the skills that they need to thrive, and ultimately be successful in life. We want all boys who attend Princes to extend themselves and to develop the confidence to judge risk, explore the unknown and have the courage to persist with an idea that just might make a difference to themselves and others. It is also important for boys to be self-reflective about moving beyond their comfort zone and extending themselves.

A core underpinning of a boy’s education at Prince Alfred College is to focus on the development of character and this is reflected in our core beliefs that guide our actions as a school. These values outline our intent and desire to develop ‘Princes Men’; men who know how to act ethically, and that doing so for the right reasons is essential if they are to become autonomous and successful. We believe this approach prepares them to respond well and appropriately when faced with challenges, be able to live, cooperate and learn with others, and perform in whatever area they choose. By focusing on these core beliefs and the notion of character in all aspects of school life, we can help our young Princes Men to be more aware of what it takes to flourish in life and regulate their own wellbeing. This is a key focus for us and is part of the broader narrative that focuses on preparing boys to flourish in life.

We understand boys and we have a strong sense of what parents hope for their sons as well including being independent, feeling secure and supported as an individual, and being able to respond well to challenging situations. Boys need to show resilience and learn from their mistakes, develop a moral and social conscience that enables them to make a positive, and valuable contribution to society in the future. We encourage our boys to act in accordance with one’s deeply held values that contribute to the greater good via experiences that benefit the individual.

Our emphasis is on building men  of character and our expectation is that our Princes Men know and model key virtues including gratitude, courage, integrity and wisdom. These are some of the foundational components that underpin the ‘Princes Man’ and when practiced and challenged each day, they can help our young men to flourish as human beings.

Character is, however, both ‘caught’ and ‘taught’ at Princes. It is caught through the interactions with all students and in the language, that we use with them. It is also ‘taught’ through our ‘Princes Man Program’, which is an explicitly delivered wellbeing course that all students in Years 7 to 12 undertake during timetabled lessons. The program is one aspect of the broader Pastoral Care offering at the College and this year it has been re-developed to focus on the explicit teaching of virtues; virtues that help our young men to be ‘of good character’.

The Princes Man Program is an inclusive model as every boy is different and their own journey is personal, as they seek to shape their experiences now and in the future. Each tutor at the College spends one lesson per week delivering the course and the timing of this lesson is the same for the whole school, irrespective of the year level. Tutors are encouraged to adapt and modify their approach to suit their own pedagogical style and the needs of the students in their tutor group. Each year level follows a specific  curriculum overseen by the Year Level Coordinator under the direction of the Dean of Students and Head of Secondary School. Each lesson is grouped under four wellbeing themes:

1 Character and Manhood

2 Health Safety and Risk

3 Learning Performance

4 Connections and Community

The development of the ‘Princes Man’ is a core focus for Prince Alfred College and this has always been a priority throughout the College’s history. What is unique today is that we are actively teaching boys about how to be a young man ‘of good character’. We believe that this can be achieved via a taught wellbeing curriculum underpinned by a virtues-based character education, and enhanced through various pastoral, academic and co-curricular experiences.  Sewing these seeds through this approach helps our young  men learn the skills to flourish in life. This includes being able to regulate their own emotions, be independent, respond to challenges and manage their own wellbeing. This is a life-long journey but one that is essential to develop Princes Men who have the qualities to accept challenges in life, perform at his best and contribute to a cause larger than himself.

Dr. John Kinniburgh
Head of Secondary School & Deputy Headmaster.