We are delighted to announce that we received the Wellbeing Award for Schools- July 2019.
The report identified how we ensure that mental health and wellbeing sit at the heart of school life.
Here is what the report stated:
Strengths identified during verification:
Leadership is a key factor in understanding the success of the school in promoting emotional wellbeing and mental health as core to the whole school community. The financial investment, skills, commitment, and approach of the senior leadership team and staff, and the whole school community have created a seamless and consistent, welcoming, none judgemental, caring, supportive, engaging, safe, nurturing, and aspirational culture.
Vision and values are central to the success of the school, which are shared by everyone, and has created a sense of autonomy, shared responsibility and a sense of belonging, referred to during the visit as ‘family’. Throughout the award process, the school has demonstrated continued progress to support and improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of the whole school community. The result offers a powerful template for how emotional wellbeing of pupils, families and staff supports whole school progress.
An open door policy, meet and great, voice, listening to the needs of others and breaking down barriers are very much part of how the school has achieved a shared sense of family where pupils, families and staff are confident to ask for or seek support, and staff are confident in identifying those who require support and signposting and/or providing support. The award evidence and interviews demonstrated how extensive, innovative and open this feature is, with staff going above and beyond what is expected to ensure that the whole school community is supported.
Caring, helpful, kindness, safe, supportive relationships, friendly, family, non-judgemental, positive interactions, fun, happy, and enjoyment were key descriptions given in the interviews, and these are core to the positive, empathetic and nurturing culture of the school. Children feel safe and happy in school and trust staff. They also articulated well how the school supports them with their emotional wellbeing and mental health and how they are confident to ask for support and how they help each other. Pupils commented on the enjoyment and satisfaction they get from learning including trips and residentials, how they can talk openly about their feelings, and how they have developed a growth mindset and are able to face their fears, and described numerous tools that they can use and activities they can do to promote their wellbeing and resilience. One child commented, “Teachers are nice, they help you out and they appreciate you” and another child commented, “Any problems at school or home, they’ll [school] sort it out and help you” and another child commented, “I’m a play leader play and we play games with others and help them, and it feels good helping smaller children”. This has enabled the day-to-day and longer-term emotional wellbeing and mental health activities to flourish and was evident throughout the visit with the promotion of wellbeing, positivity, achievements, coupled with a sense of calm and nurturing relationships as one walked around, with children demonstrating exemplary behaviour, good manners, respect, confidence, engagement and enjoyment in learning.
Significant investment in the indoor and outdoor facilities, environment, wide range of activities, staffing, with formal and informal support systems, was apparent during the tour of the school, and in provision and monitoring of interventions. The award process also highlighted the multiple examples of outstanding ‘wellbeing’ practice. Many of these have a major impact on the whole school community. For example, nurture interventions and a dedicated room, bereavement interventions, 1-1 sessions, school counsellor, PSHE lessons, circle time, forest school, curriculum related trips and residentials, online safety lessons, proud cloud, positive behaviour system and golden time, online whisper and worry boxes, the proactive approach to dealing with family issues and parental groups and programmes, excellent working relationships with outside agencies and the local community, health and wellbeing activities, reducing mental health stigma campaigns, classroom expectations, vision and values, the promotion of positive aspirations, wow work wall, classroom monitors, celebration of achievements and rewards, time out areas, school council, play leaders, targeted lunch time activities, sporting opportunities, fundraising activities, library and librarians, music, choir, visits to care homes, friends of Springfield group and parent and child activities.
Staff wellbeing is a priority, and this is valued greatly by staff that feel that the strategies in place alongside the support from all the staff contribute to their emotional wellbeing, enabling them to provide the most effective support to the children. The Head Teacher has committed to reducing staff stress and workload through providing mental health and wellbeing training, activities and events, there is a dedicated PPA room and PPA can be done at home, marking and feedback changes have reduced workload, the pastoral team provide support to teachers, CDP opportunities, TA’s have dedicated time to read emails, improvements to whole school supervision, in addition to performance management, and an open door policy from the Head Teacher, SLT and pastoral team and staff perform roles they enjoy and aspirations are addressed. Time spent in the staff room demonstrated a real team spirit, the atmosphere was relaxed and joyful, and there was evidence of staff social events and the education support partnership support information. Staff commented how supportive and approachable all staff are and how everyone says good morning and looks out for each other, and importantly there is a genuine focus on happiness. Staff at school feel valued, connected, supported, have a sense of purpose, enjoy their jobs and are proud to work at the school. Staff wellbeing will be reviewed again next year demonstrating continued commitment.
Effective communication between staff and parents is a key strength of the school and ensures that vulnerable children are supported swiftly and effectively; this includes the use of CPOMs, individualised learning plans, school based interventions such as nurture, home visits, and most importantly working alongside parents in a none judgemental way, listening to parents suggestions, providing solution focused 1-1 sessions, as well as the friends of Springfield group, numerous parent and child groups, parent voice, trips and workshops that empower families to make positive changes to their lives and improve resilience. Barriers to learning are addressed for example, the school minibus brings children to school and additional financial support is provided to those in need. One parent commented, “the school has helped me through tough times, they have made me a better person, I used to feel inferior and I now feel part of the school, I now feel comfortable and interact with everyone” another parent commented, “I’m not judged, I’m listened to, if I’m worried I ask for help, my kids love it [school], it’s like a second home, I love it, it’s a big happy family” and another parent commented “It’s [school] a big massive family, children are friends with each other and the parent and child group allows me to interact with the school and bond with my children”.
The school has drawn together the threads that connect all the different work done and aspirations, and is able to demonstrate positive change in children and families.
Investment in staff wellbeing has resulted in a reduction in staff workload, stress, and absence and an increase in staff managing their own wellbeing.
Whole school training in emotional wellbeing and mental health has increased whole school community awareness of emotional wellbeing and mental health, resulting in the whole school recognising when they are not mentally well and able to support themselves and others to improve their emotional wellbeing by using a range of techniques, contributing to improved resilience.
Effective pupil voice, consultation and communication mechanisms, promotion of the schools vision and values and the school websites use of whisper and description of key staff has lead to a shared responsibility and ownership that promotes and empowers the whole school community to take responsibility of their own and others emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Staff are confident to talk about their own mental health and are confident that they have the skills and tools to support their own and their pupils’ and families emotional wellbeing and mental health. Staff are confident in recognising the factors that affect their children and families mental health and know how to refer for and/or provide support to ensure that children and their families receive support quickly, preventing further escalation of mental health issues.
Investment in the indoor and outdoor environment and equipment, intervention rooms, calm and active areas, a range of structured activities and pastoral support, has provided children with a safe place to go to improve their wellbeing and resilience.
Staff trained in mental health and effective communication has resulted in a seamless approach to emotional wellbeing and mental health with everyone feeling confident to ask for support when needed and having the tools to take responsibility of their own emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Investment in highly trained, passionate and nurturing staff including a family support worker, nurture lead and pupil support manager, learning mentor, and a school councillor, along with the change committee, and intervention rooms, has resulted in all pupils with additional emotional wellbeing and mental health needs being provided with a safe space and for interventions to be delivered, enabling their needs to be met. This has promoted developments in pupil’s social and emotional skills, self-esteem, independence, and resilience, enabling young people to thrive and learn and raising aspirations. Furthermore, breaking down barriers to parental and community engagement has led to improved working relationships and families accessing support and feeling empowered to make positive changes to their own and their children’s lives, improving resilience and ensuring that pupils are ready to learn.