25th January 2021
Re: Mental Wellbeing
Particularly in these difficult times of Covid we all, as parents, need to know our children are well looked after. It is part of the ethos of LWS that we support the children’s mental well-being. The emotional well-being of our children and students is embedded in everything we do – I aim to highlight some of the ways in which we manage this below…
The whole ethos of the school stems from the belief that every child (and adult) in the nurseries and schools are individuals and therefore a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work. We want every child to feel good about who they are, their family and all the other influences that make them unique.
Being a Stonewall champion is exceedingly important to us. This is far more than the activist group it began with. The point of Stonewall is to rule out misunderstandings and prejudices based on a person’s protected characteristics (culture, age, marital status, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability etc) and we take this mission throughout everything we do with the children. From the baby rooms we introduce images, books and resources which reflect the broad range of people in the world. The Early Years children learn about different festivals, cultures etc and we make sure we do not enforce any gender specific expectations on children – this goes from the toys available right down to the colour of wrapping paper we choose for their birthdays!
As the children go up through the school we cover issues of Equality and Diversity through circle times and PSHE lessons – the children learn to have opinions but to respect and listen to the opinions of others. Should children express negative views in opposition to the fundamental rights of everyone to be who they wish to be, we plan targeted lessons and discussions to explain why, in a modern society, these views are not acceptable. Displays are everywhere in all school buildings to support this. Those in the Upper School also illustrate people from every background who have achieved greatness in their field from scientists to musicians to film stars. We believe there should be no limit to our students’ ambitions!
We also acknowledge that everyone needs individual support at times. We let the children know that it ‘is ok to not be ok’.
During Covid, we have increased the time we spend looking at mental health. When we returned to school in September all of our children spent the first two days of term thinking about mental health, strategies for coping and how to get help when needed. We felt that after such a long absence from physical school we had to work with their mental health before we could work on the academics.
When schools are shut for Covid we have added further support for the children’s emotional well-being, much of which was planned to help them keep ‘connected’ with their friends and events in the outside world e.g.
1.We have weekly Zoom assemblies with a chance to say hello to their friends in different year groups.
2.Children can always request phone calls/Zoom meetings with myself or a trusted adult of their choosing. We reiterate this in assemblies.
3. Specialist assemblies with Nightingale nurses to answer their questions about Covid and to help allay their fears.
4. Specialist assemblies for children returning to school in June last year to explain how it would work and how we were keeping them safe.
5.Throughout the nurseries and schools we make sure that all children received a gift and message on their birthdays even in lockdown.
6.We run competitions with prizes e.g. the child/students who work the hardest on IXL that week.
We continue our ‘open door’ policy even during lockdowns.
Even outside of lockdowns we place mental well-being at the top of our agenda: some examples of this are..
1.Lucy Meyer is a trained mental health lead
2.Eight teachers completed their Level 2 in Mental Health for children and students in September 2020
3.PSHE lessons encourage open debate
4.ALL children and students have access to any trusted adult within the school that they would like to speak to. They ask their class teacher/pastoral tutor and we aim to arrange a meeting with the adult of their choosing within 24 hours. We listen openly without judgement.
5.For children we identify who have specific needs e.g. due to bereavement we have access to child counsellors/psychotherapists if they need specialist help. The teachers or myself will also meet with children regularly who need additional support.
6.Annually, Aaron Williams, who is a practicing psychotherapist, trains a group of teachers in transactional analysis.
7. Students in Year 9,10 and 11 have mentoring with Deborah Thackeray individually every month to help plan their life goals and to talk about anything that is troubling them.
In our day-to-day interactions with our students/children we make sure we always have time to listen to them. As a small school we take pride in knowing each child very well and to have a positive relationship with each one. We know when their birthdays are, when they are not ‘quite themselves’ and all the minutia of their everyday lives from having a new haircut to winning a trophy!
This is just a snippet of what we do as schools and nurseries, every day we plan for our children to help them feel supported and important. They are the reason we are teachers.