Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (World Health Organization).
Schools have a central role to play in enabling their pupils to be resilient and to support good mental health and wellbeing. It is important that schools promote good mental wellbeing for all pupils. At Sarum St Paul’s CofE (VA) Primary School, we aim to promote positive mental health for every member of our staff and student body. We pursue this aim using both universal, whole school approaches and specialised, targeted approaches aimed at vulnerable students.
The culture of a school can have a profound influence on both pupil and staff mental wellbeing. We have a whole school commitment to promoting wellbeing and this is lived through our school ethos and values: 'We create an inclusive and nurturing environment, built upon our Christian values of love, truthfulness, forgiveness and perseverance, which encourages kindness, respect and friendship.' Our approach is one that goes beyond the teaching in the classroom to pervade all aspects of school life including: culture, ethos and environment, teaching and partnerships with families and the community.
How Sarum St Paul's promotes wellbeing for all:
- Our vision and ethos underpins all we do and is known by all members of the school community.
- We have high expectations of behaviour and consistent and clear boundaries, rewards and sanctions reflecting our whole school vision and ethos.
- Class teachers deliver regular PSHE sessions; our subject lead is currently undertaking a PSHE accreditation.
- The leadership team review training needs of staff and promote continuous professional development to ensure staff are aware of recognising signs of and supporting pupils with mental health concerns, this has included training with CAMHs, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, the Local Authority and Diocese.
- Clear systems and procedures are in place to help staff identify pupils with mental health concerns.
- We hold a wellbeing week to raise awareness of mental health and how pupils and staff can have a healthy body, healthy mind and healthy soul.
- We have three teaching assistants specifically trained to support pupils with Emotional Literacy Support (ELSAs).
- Our Family Link Worker is an ELSA and has completed a counselling course.
- We recognise anti-bullying week and involve pupils in writing our anti-bullying policy.
- We have a dedicated nurture room (named 'The Butterfly Room' by our pupils), to provide children with a calm and safe place and somewhere to talk.
- We have school worry monsters for pupils to leave messages of concerns.
- We run mindfulness courses for pupils each term.
- We work closely with external agencies, for example: Behaviour Support Services, our Educational Psychologist, the Family Counselling Trust.
- We work closely with parents and carers to empower and support families in promoting wellbeing at home.
- We have opportunities for pupils to participate in decision making, for example: School Council, Play Leaders, Eco monitors, Sports Squad.
- Our children are surrounded by adults who model positive and appropriate behaviours and interactions at all times. They show care and respect to all pupils and provide a listening ear.
- There are many opportunities for pupils to develop a sense of belonging and worth, academic and non-academic talents are celebrated and pupils are encouraged to take on additional responsibilities.
- We were awarded with a bronze healthy school award in 2017/18 for our commitment to health and wellbeing, this year we are going for silver!
- We provide targeted support for those in need, for example, circle of friends groups, nurture activities, meet and greet and 'Rise and Shine' breakfast club.
- We arranged alternative provision for pupils with specific needs, for example - Equine Therapy, Forest Schools, Play Therapy.
"The headteacher is a committed and conscientious leader who recognises the importance of well-being and whose cares for the whole school community. This approach is shared by all staff."
Diocesan Advisor September 2018.
Supporting Wellbeing during Covid-19
Wellbeing Week 2019 - 'Health Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Soul'
We held a second successful wellbeing week, activities included:
- First aid workshops
- Knitting lessons
- Dogs Trust workshops
- Guinea pig cuddles
- Staff rag wreath making
- Healthy eating workshops with our school caterers
- Mindfulness activities
- Prayer journals
- 'Stay and Get Talking' family workshop
- Cooking healthy snacks
- Staff sewing class
- Whole school dog walk
Wellbeing Week 2018 - 'Health Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Soul'
At the start of the week, 3% of pupils knew what wellbeing meant and how they could promote a healthy body, healthy mind, healthy soul. By the end of the week, over 75% of pupils were confident in explaining what it meant and strategies they could use to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Anxiety workshops for pupils, parents and staff with Charlie Waller Memorial Trust
- Kidz Love Fit session
- Staff zumba
- First aid workshop
- Kiddi Active sport lesson
- Knitting lessons
- Staff jigsaw challenge!
- Healthy eating workshops with Waitrose
- Mindfulness activities
- Prayer journals
- 'Stay and Be Mindful' family workshop
What did the staff/parents say about the week?
"I think the topic of wellbeing and mental health is extremely relevant in primary schools and it helped us to raise awareness and open up conversation with the children about it."
"The week has helped normalise feelings and adds to their vocabulary and understanding which will hopefully help them in the future."
"We are now finishing our work sessions with mindfulness breathing and the children are very aware of drinking more water and discussing their healthy food choices."
"It is so important that we teach our children that it is ok to have feelings and to talk about them and deal with them in a positive way, or understand what their friends may be feeling, by doing this we make it normal."
What did the children say about the week?
- We enjoyed the different PE activities
- We will use 3 breaths at the end of every day
- I enjoyed making a calm box to have something for me at home to calm down
- I learnt how worries can take over your body and brain but also strategies to keep calm
- Exercise makes you feel good!
- If I get angry or cross I can take 3 deep breaths
- I now know how to put someone in the recovery position!
- I really enjoyed learning about first aid and how to help them
For our next wellbeing week, staff/pupils have asked for opportunities to work with animals, cooking lessons and more craft activities... watch this space!