Elwyn's House News

by Mr E Grant, Housemaster

This year in Elwyn House we’ve been working hard on the implementation of our three core values - Respect, Support and Good Habits.



Respect for the House, the House team, each other and importantly for themselves. Creating some pride in their appearance, their engagement and their reputation around the school community.

Support for each other. Being kind, being consciously inclusive. Not just being “open” to helping someone but actively doing it, without the need for a prompt. 

The one with the most tangible outputs however has been the implementation of Good Habits. The boys now have an efficient morning routine which gets them up, fed, ready for the day and out to their first commitment on time, be that assembly, chapel or tutorials. We then have a smooth running break and lunchtime before the evening schedule kicks in involving dinner, registration, prep time (in rooms or in the Marshall Centre) followed by activities or visiting and then an evening bedtime process.

The implementation of Good Habits comes from the book "Atomic Habits", written by James Clear, the central premise of the book is that small, incremental changes in behaviour can lead to significant and lasting improvements in life. Some of his key concepts that we’re trying to include into Elwyn’s daily schedules are as follows:

The Power of Small Changes: Clear argues that the key to making lasting changes in your life is to focus on small, manageable actions, which he calls "atomic habits." These are tiny changes that are easy to implement and repeat consistently. We know the boys use their phones a lot, so we’ve been encouraging them to use them as a reward, what habit can they put in place BEFORE checking their phones in the morning for example? 

The Habit Loop: Clear explains the loop as consisting of a cue, a routine, and a reward. To change a habit, you can either modify the cue - the thing that makes you do the habit, the routine - the habit itself, or the reward - what you get after you complete the habit. Understanding this loop helps identify the underlying causes of habits and how to change them effectively. Again to use the phone example, if they are distracted by them during prep they can (a) turn them off, (b) turn them over or (c) use them as as reward for completing a certain amount of work.

Habit Stacking: The book introduces the concept of "habit stacking," which involves integrating a new habit into an existing routine. By associating a new habit with a habit you already do regularly, you're more likely to stick with it. Is there something they regularly do which they can add a positive habit to? For example, before putting their shoes on in the morning, could they make sure that all their clothes are picked up off the floor and put away, stacking the two together quickly makes them a single habit.

Overall, Clear talks about Continuous Improvement: "Atomic Habits" encourages a mindset of continuous improvement. Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on getting slightly better each day. These small improvements compound over time and this is what we’re working on putting in place in Elwyn’s. A little bit better, every day.