Running a Mentally Healthy School
Long Crendon School is committed to creating and maintaining a mentally healthy school, where the children and staff’s mental well-being is at the forefront of our minds. Without positive mental health, it is really hard for children to access learning. We are increasingly aware that pressures on our young people start earlier and earlier and we aim, as a school, to help children navigate their way through some of the social and emotional challenges that they will face.
We do this in many ways, we have a new PSHE scheme that all teachers are using. This also includes a 4 x a week reflective session, where children have a chance to gather themselves and catch breath after busy lunchtimes. This has really helped many children I have spoken to and puts them in a calmer mind set to face and embrace their learning.
The school has a fully qualified counsellor, who is a member of the BACP, counselling body and she offers some 1:1 sessions with children when necessary. This can be with young people who may be experiencing some added anxiety or just need to have a space to contain temporary strong feelings. This can be accessed through a teacher who will write a brief referral and then the child can come along for a short series of sessions if they so wish. It can help in a variety of ways – with anger, anxiety and the normal emotions that we all swing through on a daily basis. We very much believe as a school in containing the anxiety of children and normalising some of the issues that they may be experiencing.
She is also available to listen to staff, offer advice on containing anxiety in school and promoting ways and strategies to help all of our school family manage stress.
Mrs Barker and Mrs Fleming also run a nurture group weekly for a small group of children, currently year 5 and 6 – to help with transition and the general growing up process – and would like, ultimately to be able to offer this more widely to more children in school. The group helps with processing emotions, working with a new peer group, accessing some strategies to help with anxiety, sleep or general emotional well-being. This normally runs weekly throughout the year and the scheme has proved hugely successful in the past with children loving the chance to come along and have some space to be. The school practitioners have been trained by Buckinghamshire County Council, and it is an initiative which runs nationwide and has been practising for a few years with great results. You can find out more about Nurture and what the parents and children have fed back to us in the past, by clicking on this link.
The group content varies from week to week, it is a group where we can learn through play, talk and again, we undergo a short mindful exercise in order to relax and focus and let go of some worries that may be physically impeding our ability to be present. We also serve tea and toast, which is always a popular bonus!
Forest School helps children to get outside and learn in a different environment and gain skills in practical areas and to also reduce stress by being active and mindful within nature. It supports the curriculum and helps embed classroom learning in a practical way. Outdoor learning has been well documented and has been used successfully to support holistic learning in Primary Schools across the UK for many years.
Mrs Berrell and Mrs Motion also run Forest School Explore which currently runs weekly and is a fantastic way to target a smaller group of children in their outdoor learning and promoting individual learning needs, such as building self-confidence and helping with problem solving skills. The group currently runs with KS1 on a Wednesday afternoon.