Mental Health and Wellbeing
Mental Health and Wellbeing
At Bunbury Aldersey CE Primary, the mental health and wellbeing our children is of the upmost importance to us and has been a priority on our School Development Plan (SDP) document for the last two years. We take a holistic approach to the children’s education and follow our 4 main drivers as a school that were decided on as a community:
- Curiosity and Appreciation of God’s world.
- Aspiring to become the best person God created us to be.
- A culture of care for all.
- Inspirational Creative Learning.
The SDP guides our priority for staff training and budget allocation and keeps the mental health and wellbeing of the children high on our agenda all of the time. It is an integral part of our day-to-day school life in order that we have happy and healthy children.
Mental health and wellbeing has long been a priority of the Government but particularly for the last 3 years due to the increasing pressure on the health service and inadequacies of the public health system to manage this situation. There was recently a Green paper which focused on this topic and the need to be proactive. The situation has been described as a crisis in our classrooms:
- The growing number of children and young people experiencing poor mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing our teachers.
- An estimated three children in every classroom has a diagnosable mental health problem1. This rises to one in four children when we include emotional distress
- Suicide is the most common cause of death for boys aged between 5 and 19, and the second most common for girls of that age3.
- Around one in every twelve young people deliberately self-harm4, though this may rise to almost one in three for girls aged 15.
- Rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years6.
- The number of young people calling Childline about mental health problems has risen by 36% in the last four years7.
- The number of young people attending A&E because of a psychiatric condition more than doubled between 2010/11 and 2014/158.
As a consequence this has been on Ofsted’s radar for some years, indeed one of the sections for any school inspection has been personal development, behaviour and welfare. Specifically, for outstanding schools, it states: Pupils can explain accurately and confidently how to keep themselves healthy. They make informed choices about healthy eating, fitness and their emotional and mental well-being. They have an age-appropriate understanding of healthy relationships and are confident in staying safe from abuse and exploitation (Ofsted handbook April 2018). As a result, the local authority asked all schools to complete a detailed audit of our mental health provision and complete an action plan to support future developments. This was shared with all staff and the Board of Governors.
There is a clear expectation for school to be proactive in their approach to supporting this and as a consequence many schools have been piloting different methods alongside some more established approaches, within PSHE. All schools should have someone who is mental health first aid trained. The Department for Education (DfE) recognises that: “in order to help their pupils succeed; schools have a role to play in supporting them to be resilient and mentally healthy”. (Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing- A whole school and college approach 2015)
As a school we have taken this responsibility very seriously. We have always tried to develop resilience within children and enable them to manage their emotions and also understand and have empathy for how others might be feeling. We have…
- Trained Mrs Todd (EHT), Mrs Badger (Principal), Mrs Cliffe (SENCo) and Ms Charlesworth ( Pastoral Manager) in mental health first aid (Government were looking to have at least one person trained per school (we currently have four)
- Organised lunchtime Lego clubs to support children (using the principles of Lego Therapy)
- Embedded our PSHCE curriculum with a variety of approaches including Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL).
- Launched an initiative called Heartsmart last year which helps children regulate their behaviour / feelings and emotions and look after themselves using 5 main mantras:
- Don't forget to let love in.
- Too much Selfie isn't healthy
- Don't rub it in, Rub it out!
- Fake is a mistake!
- No Way Through Isn't true!
- Mrs Cliffe (SENCo) is trained in restorative practice which is a way of working to repair the harm that has been done.
- Trained Teaching assistant, Amy Porter, is delivering Resilient Classrooms and Cool Connections which is all part of the Emotionally Healthy Schools Project. This is delivered in one 45mins session weekly over a period of 10 weeks to small groups and helps the children to talk about their worries, concerns and how they can deal with them. The intention is that the whole school will have been able to attend these sessions over the period of the next two years.
- From Autumn 2018, we have employed the expertise of a qualified social skills teacher, Adam Kirkpatrick, to deliver an exciting new wellbeing programme called 'Discover Social Skills'. This teaches children how to interact with others, play cooperatively and self-regulate their emotions.
"The children are happy, secure and they grow in confidence in the school."
"The children in Bunbury are polite, welcoming and open whether at school or generally around the village, that is testament to the ethos of the school and the provision they have in place to ensure all children are happy in mind and body."
Parent survey December 2020