Aberdeen’s four independent schools have announced they will collaborate to deliver a series of free online seminars focused on mental health and wellbeing.

The virtual Wellbeing in Difficult Times series is the first of its kind in the city and will see International School Aberdeen (ISA), Robert Gordon’s College, St Margaret’s School for Girls and Albyn School – collectively known as Aberdeen Independent Schools (AIS) – come together to deliver four online conferences featuring a variety of expert speakers.

The first seminar will be hosted by ISA as it welcomes Dr Bruce Lawrie, Consultant Psychologist. The virtual session, to be held on Thursday, February 18, at 7.30pm, is entitled the “‘Power of Mind’ to Enhance Your Mental & Physical Wellbeing”. Dr Lawrie will demonstrate how to focus on managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in life situations and how to develop confidence in our abilities to exercise control over our lives whether at school, home, socially or at work.

As Scotland’s first international school, ISA welcomes locals and international children alike from age 3 to 18. Nicholas Little, ISA head of school, said: “As one of the city’s four independent schools, we are delighted to take part in this collaborative venture. Student wellbeing is at the heart of every school and at ISA we strive to provide extra care and support to each one of our learners, allowing them to reach their maximum potential in a way that works for them.

“We recognise that an active and healthy lifestyle is a vital component to our students’ wellbeing. A physical outlet provides children with routine, purpose, and fun throughout the challenges they are facing during lockdown. In spite of the global pandemic and the subsequent move to online learning, our students continue to thrive, and we believe that by incorporating physical activity into their lives, they can stay emotionally healthy and reach their full learning potential.”

“As we prepare to host the first in the series of AIS online seminars, we would like to invite the wider local community to join us as we explore the fundamental link between a healthy mind and body.”

Robert Gordon’s College will welcome guest speakers Jane Lunnon, Lena Carter and Graham Goulden, on Tuesday March 2, who will deliver an online seminar focused on ‘Impact and Opportunity relating to the Covid-19 pandemic’.

Robin Macpherson, head of Robert Gordon’s College shared: “One of the benefits of independent education is that we have greater autonomy to be innovative and shake things up. I’m delighted to be working on this series with my fellow headteachers and we really want to create an exciting space for public debate.

“We are living through a paradigm shift that has come at immense cost, but also promises a brave new dawn if we think courageously. I am hugely excited to be hosting a panel debate on March 2nd with three of the UK’s leading voices in education. Lena, Graham and Jane have extensive multi-agency experience of working with young people and have significantly influenced public debate on education at a national level. We will be assessing the impact that COVID has had on the wellbeing of young people as well as exploring the exciting opportunities we can create for them as we come out of the curve.”

St Margaret’s School for Girls welcomes Dr Tharaka Gunarathne, known as ‘Dr T’, on Wednesday March 17 in a seminar entitled ‘Look after your SWANS: Dr T’s 5 Key Areas to Better Resilience.’ Dr T is a medical doctor-psychiatrist turned professional speaker, presenter and high-performance life coach. He is a three times TEDx speaker, Podcaster and has recently been featured on a new reality TV show soon to be aired in the UK. The session will begin at 6pm.

Anna Tomlinson, head, St Margaret’s School for Girls, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with the other independent schools in Aberdeen to support our local community in exploring wellbeing and resilience as we move together through the pandemic.

“Developing a personal understanding of mental and physical wellbeing is at the heart of our curriculum at St Margaret’s, and we look forward to welcoming Dr T as he explores his 5 key areas to better resilience. This promises to be an engaging and inspiring session which will draw on Dr T’s rich experience as a psychiatrist and life coach.”

Albyn School will host the last in the series of seminars on Tuesday, March 30 when they welcome Astrid Whyte, chief executive officer, Mental Health Aberdeen, who will discuss the important topic of ‘Family Wellbeing’.

David Starbuck, acting head, Albyn School, said the school is excited to work with the city’s other independent schools: “This collaboration is an opportunity to share our resources and talents with the whole Aberdeen community as we all begin to look hopefully at a post-pandemic future for the area.

“One of the strengths of all the independent schools in Aberdeen is their commitment to the wellbeing of their pupils and their families, and I hope that we are able to provide useful strategies and insights for everyone.

“We are pleased to welcome Astrid Whyte to our virtual seminar and look forward to her insights into how families can support one another to get through this time with as much positive gain for family relationships as possible.”

All four talks can be booked via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellbeing-in-difficult-times-tickets-141149948295