OUR AIMS AND PRINCIPLES FOR MENTAL HEALTH
At Grendon Underwood School, we understand that good mental health is essential for our children to GROW, FLOURISH, CARE & ASPIRE. Our pupils are taught about the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ which are used widely across the UK. They are a set of evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population.
These five ways include:
- Be active
- Take Notice
We use the DfE’s guidance, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, as a guide and work to their ideals:
- Prevention: creating a safe and calm environment where mental health problems are less likely, improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole school population, and equipping pupils to be resilient so that they can manage the normal stress of life effectively. This will include teaching pupils about mental wellbeing through the curriculum and reinforcing this teaching through school activities and ethos.
- Identification: recognising emerging issues as early and accurately as possible.
- Early support: helping pupils to access evidence based early support and interventions.
- Access to specialist support: working effectively with external agencies to provide swift access or referrals to specialist support and treatment.
HOW DO WE SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH AT SCHOOL?
An overview of our mental health and wellbeing provision can be seen here in our Pyramid of Need model. The different stages of support are explained in more detail below.
Whole School Provision
The foundation for our mental health offer is our Whole School Provision. Learning about mental health is part of our Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) curriculum for all children. This teaching and learning for all is part of the Prevention phase of mental health, mentioned above. Children receive 1 hour of dedicated PSHE teaching each week. Beyond lesson time, our school culture embeds good mental health. For example, our extensive grounds have been developed as a haven for nature and reflection. Pupils can enjoy Calm Club at playtimes and lunchtimes where they have access to calm spaces to enjoy calmer activities such as colouring, lego, and reading and there is always a staff member on duty for children to talk to. We also have dedicated Mental Health Days when we promote and celebrate good mental health for all. Across the school, you will see staff leading pupils through meditation and mindfulness activities, perhaps after an energetic playtime before starting some work.
Low Level Needs
This is the Identification phase, from the DfE model. We have a variety of ways that our children can let us know how they are feeling. Each class has a zones register that children fill in on entry to school each morning, by putting their lolly stick into the jar to show how they are feeling. Staff can then pick on pupils’ state of mind and chat to them about it. We also have question boxes in each class for children to write a note, if they prefer to. All of our staff have all completed the Place2be ‘Mental Health Champions’ children’s mental health training course, which enhances professionals’ understanding of children’s mental health and introduces approaches that foster positive wellbeing in schools and communities. This also helps them to identify when a child may need some additional support. If we think your child may benefit from some bespoke support, we will always talk to you about it first.
Medium Level need
Individualised Support for our pupils who may be experiencing mental health and wellbeing difficulties. After identifying and talking to parents, providing some support for the pupil is the next step. This is the Early Support phase. Getting support in a timely fashion can stop a mental health issue from developing further. There are lots of ways we can support children in school, which can range from being very light touch (e.g. a simple chat, organising a playtime buddy or a daily check-in to see how they are feeling) to a series of individual or group sessions with a trained staff member using recognised support programmes and therapeutic interventions such as ELSA (Emotional Literacy) support, Lego Therapy, Drawing & Talking, Art Therapy and Play Therapy.
High Level Need
Occasionally, some children may benefit from expert mental health professionals. We can help families to access this specialist support. We will work with these agencies to provide support in school as best we can.
Capturing the Children’s Voice
it’s important to us that our children get a say in our mental health and wellbeing offer. We have pupil wellbeing questionnaires that the children complete every half term, as well as Pupil Wellbeing Ambassadors who meet with Miss White Jones regularly to express the views of their classes. In addition, our school councilors meet with Mrs McLaren every half term which gives all children an opportunity to share what they think about our school, including mental health and wellbeing.
Working with Parents
- Parents are an integral part of our mental Health offer at Grendon Underwood School. We actively promote good mental health for all and make it part of our mission to further educate our parents, local community and beyond about the benefits of good mental health.
- Parents are always included in any concerns we have about a pupils’ health. We ensure that parents have a voice and recognise their contribution.
- We try to support parents who are concerned about their children’s mental health in a number of ways and facilitate links to external agencies when needed.
- Calm & Peaceful Classrooms – our learning environments are set up to be safe and calming places for pupils to learn. We use a lot of neutral colour schemes so they are not over-stimulating. We use lighting and plants to create a sense of calm. Classrooms have timetables, rules and procedures displayed so that pupils can feel secure in the expectations within the room. Adults understand the importance of creating spaces that are conducive to good mental health.
- Appreciating Nature & Beauty – we’ve created places to nurture mental health in our extensive grounds. Our allotment and school garden, the Wild Wood, the willow tunnel and wide green open spaces are used to foster children’s joy and wonder.
How can I get help for my child?
If you are worried that your child may be experiencing mental health issues, please talk to your child’s class teacher, Miss White Jones (Mental Health & Wellbeing Leader) or Mrs Stainer (SENDCO).