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.
- 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 Timpson, CAMHs, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, the Local Authority and Diocese.
- Our school was involved with the Alex Timpson Attachment and Trauma Programme, a national programme which aims to: raise understanding of the role of attachment and trauma in children’s education and help schools to improve strategies to address the needs of vulnerable young people.
- Clear systems and procedures are in place to help staff identify pupils with mental health concerns.
- We celebrate themed days and hold wellbeing weeks to raise awareness of mental health and how pupils and staff can have a healthy body, healthy mind and healthy soul.
- We have teaching assistants specifically trained to support pupils with their mental health and wellbeing. We currently have six Emotional Literacy Support Assistants across the school (ELSAs).
- We employ a Family Link Worker to support parents and their children with wellbeing and mental health needs. 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 after school clubs for pupils each term. We also have personalised after school clubs tailored to supporting pupils with social skills, self-esteem, anxieties related to home issues as well as a young carers group.
- 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 have been awarded with a bronze healthy school award 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 and meet and greet.
- We run a daily 'Rise and Shine' breakfast club where specific pupils are invited in before school to take part in mindfulness activities with an ELSA.
- We arranged alternative provision for pupils with specific needs, for example - Equine Therapy, Forest Schools, Play Therapy.
Click here to read our Graduated Response to Supporting Pupil Mental Health and Wellbeing (coming soon)
"The headteacher is a committed and conscientious leader who recognises the importance of well-being and who cares for the whole school community. This approach is shared by all staff."
Diocesan Advisor September 2018.
Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs)
An Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) is a trained, school based learning support assistant. Their role is to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils. They are trained by a team of Educational Psychologists and receive ongoing group supervision. ELSAs work with children and young people either individually or in small groups and deliver bespoke interventions tailored to the presenting situation or need. The role of the ELSA is to develop children and young people’s:
- emotional literacy
- positive mental health,
- social skills
- emotional wellbeing.
The role of an ELSA can vary dependent on age, school stage and situation. All ELSAs have 6 days of initial training covering:
- emotional literacy including building resilience and self-esteem
- managing emotions including anger and anxiety
- social and friendship skills
- loss, bereavement and family break up
As well as skills development in:
- social and therapeutic stories
- motivational interviewing
- active listening, conversation skills
ELSAs attend ongoing group supervision (6 times a year,) to safeguard practice and develop their skills. provide continued further skills development.
School based: Mrs Colby, Mrs Yates, Miss Hayne, Mrs Potter
Other: Debbie Newman (Family Link Worker) and Debbie May (St Paul's Church children's worker)
If you feel your child would benefit from ELSA support (either 1:1 or with a group), please contact your child's class teacher or arrange a meeting with Mrs Weavers (Headteacher) or Mrs Beales (SENCO)
Sarum St Paul's Primary School values highly the work of our ELSAs because of the positive impact this support has on improving children’s wellbeing and readiness to learn.
Wellbeing fun at Sarum St Paul's