Wellbeing Strategy

WELLBEING AND MENTAL HEALTH AT

SIMON LANGTON GIRLS’ GRAMMAR SCHOOL

Why are we doing this?

Schools should produce ‘Happy, healthy, productive people.[1]

‘Schools and colleges are a vital part of a wider systems approach to promoting positive mental wellbeing and preventing mental illness in children and young people’[2]

Recently it has been well documented that there is a mental health ‘crisis’ across young people with increasing numbers of students experiencing anxiety, depression, oppositional disorders and attention difficulties amongst many others. The Department of Education have identified schools as key sites for intervention, a view that we at the Langton share. Deficit discourses have gradually been displaced by strengths-based understandings and an emphasis on health promotion. At The Langton Girls’ we are focusing on the importance of evidence based prevention and early intervention in school alongside challenging any stigmas associated with poor mental health. An extensive body of research suggests that psychological resources do confer resilience and protection and do so at both an individual and an ecological level (Bartley 2006; Fagg et al 2006; Sacker and Schoon 2007). The optimism, self-esteem, self-efficacy and relationships with others that contribute to a child’s success at school are also characteristics of resilient communities. Children and young people (those aged 0 to 19 years) make up approximately 24 per cent of the UK population (Office for National Statistics, 2011). While most children and young people will not experience mental health problems, a significant number will. The most common mental health difficulties reported in children and young people are conduct disorders, anxiety, depression and hyperkinetic disorders (Green et al., 2005). Recent research has identified that a focus on mental toughness, emotional resilience and meta-cognition are at the heart of a prevention based model to support mental health and emotional wellbeing within schools, coupled with targeted intervention when needed.

What is at the heart of this?

A multitude of reasons have been cited for this escalation in mental health concerns. Cognitive ability and emotional adjustment influence readiness for school or learning and capacity, motivation and rationale for healthy behaviours. There is a strong relationship between the ‘home learning environment’ and positive cognitive and social skills which continue to influence outcomes throughout school (Sylva et al 2007). Low cognitive ability in childhood is also associated with adverse mental health outcomes in mid adulthood: higher childhood cognitive scores were associated with fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression in women (Feinstein and Bynner, 2004). In young adulthood through to later life there is a persistent relationship between low levels of mental wellbeing and neglect of self, neglect of others and a range of self-harming behaviours, including self-sedation and self-medication e.g. through alcohol or drugs. To date it remains uncertain which school-related factors increase the risk for developing mental health problems and which factors are protective and help children and adolescents grow up mentally healthy. The fundamental question that arises is how psychology and pedagogy can work together more closely in order to lower the risk of developing mental health problems and to look after and provide preventative measures for children and adolescents. Countless ‘remedies’ have been suggested for how schools can best support these needs. At the Langton we are eager to explore and embrace any approaches we believe will be to the benefit of our students. Nonetheless, we want to ensure that any method we invest in and pursue with our students if supported by relevant research. A key rationale for promoting positive mental health is the hypothesis that by increasing positive mental health, we can modify certain outcomes, even if mental illness remains and/or even if other risk factors remain.

We are therefore developing a multi-faceted programme that places education and guidance for all students as its core principle, whilst utilising many additional options to ensure the best provision is available when most needed. This approach places meta-cognition, both emotionally (an understanding of our own resilience, vulnerabilities, self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation and meaning) alongside academic and intellectual meta-cognition (the understanding and insight into ‘learning about learning’ or ‘how we learn’) at its heart. 

Society can focus too much on the individual and how they feel and this encourages young people to think that they are the centre of the world and the outcome is that young people blow out of proportion any setbacks or challenges in life.

The apparent trade-off between a focus on achievement and on well-being was criticised as a false dichotomy. Rather than balancing academic achievement, a lot of research indicates that well-being increased pupils’ capacity to learn by lessening anxiety, improving confidence and equipping them to better deal with stress: The Association of Directors of Public Health told us that “Children with higher levels of emotional, behavioural, social and school wellbeing have higher levels of academic achievement on average” [3]

What are we going to do?

 ‘If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.’[4]

The Langton curriculum seeks to educate beyond the confines of GCSE examinations, challenging, stimulating and supporting young people throughout their personal and academic journey. We are always mindful of this, and our approach to mental health and wellbeing is integral to this.

Aims and objectives

  1. Develop a mental health and wellbeing curriculum based on a universal ‘preventative’ model throughout the school community that enhances The Langton Values and curriculum
  2. Embed the ‘Positive Ed’ wellbeing programme within our PSHE curriculum
  3. Develop the Intellectual courage of all students through a programme of Cultural Literacy.
  4. Provide more specialised intervention and support for students where higher needs are identified
  5. Address and tackle misconceptions and stigmas still associated with mental health and wellbeing
  6. Ensure appropriate training and support is in place for staff mental health and wellbeing
  7. To ensure effective communication is in place between all stakeholders when addressing Mental health and wellbeing

How are we going to do it? Approaches within school

Identification

  • Whole school surveys and questionnaires, including the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS), PALS (Patterns of adaptive learning scales) and the RS 14 Resilience Scale.
  • Parent, teacher, peer and self-identification of needs
  • Addaction’s ‘Mind and Body’ questionnaire for Year 10

PSHE curriculum and Mental toughness and emotional resilience (Positive Action)

  • Expansion of PSHE curriculum in KS3 and KS4  to provide more time and focus on mental health and wellbeing
  • Implement ‘Positive Ed’ Emotional Resilience programme in PSHE curriculum.

Tutor group activities

  • Developing a targeted evidence based program for KS3 and 4 to focus on mental toughness and to be delivered in tutor groups
  • Mentoring sessions with Form tutor identify possible concerns

Pastoral Managers

  • Drop in support for all
  • More intensive one to one support where needed
  • Close work with external agencies to ensure most appropriate support is in place
  • ELSA support in Year 7

Academic Leads

  • Overall monitoring of academic support.
  • Termly celebration and reward assemblies recognise achievements in supporting wellbeing/demonstrating resilience.
  • Targeted coordination of academic support where needed

Enrichment programme

  • Re-introduction of Enrichment programme in KS4 to offer opportunities beyond the classroom supporting our community and enhancing the Langton Curriculum

Pastoral staff training and supervision

  • Pastoral Manager, Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher to undertake targeted training through attendance at specialist training events throughout the year (eg. Optimus conferences, Kent Safeguarding Children Board (KSCB))
  • Pastoral managers (and other staff where need is identified) to receive regular supervision sessions to ensure structured support is in place for them
  • Termly support session with Clinical Psychologist

Whole staff training and support

  • Range of CPD opportunities in place for all staff (eg. Mind and Body)
  • Development of staff wellbeing group

Student voice

  • Student council and form captains to provide feedback on perceived strengths and needs within school
  • Questionnaires to provide broader view of attitudes to mental health and wellbeing

Literature and website

  • Booklet for students and parents created, including relevant information and advice
  • Ongoing development of website wellbeing page
  • Availability of relevant literature around school for students and in reception for parents and visitors

Whole school and parent events/engagement

  • Mental health and wellbeing evenings focusing on specific areas as identified by staff and parents.
  • Mental health/wellbeing focus day

Safeguarding

  • Key safeguarding topics (eg. Drugs, Sexual exploitation, self-harm) addressed through whole school events (eg. Mental health focus day)
  • PSHE Curriculum covers safeguarding topics

SEN support

  • Liaison with SEN Lead to identify and support students with SEMH (social, Emotional and Mental Health) needs.
  • DHT/AHT to work with SEN Lead in identifying and supporting students where students’ SEN are having a detrimental impact on mental health and wellbeing

Counselling

  • In school counsellor provides one-to-one support for students when referred by Pastoral Manager
  • Review referral procedure and monitoring/review process

Clubs and societies

  • Stressbusting
  • Exam stress 
  • LGBTQ+
  • Mindfulness

Library

  • Provide a quiet, safe space for students
  • ‘Shelf help’ programme – range of books covering areas of mental health and wellbeing

External agency collaboration

  • Specialist Teaching and Learning Service (STLS)
  • Mind and Body
  • School Nursing Service
  • Eating Disorders team
  • CYPMHS (CAMHS)
  • RSDVP (Rising Sun – domestic abuse and relationships)
  • Early Help
  • Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT)
  • PIAS (PRU, Inclusion and Attendance Service)
  • EKHNES (East Kent Health Needs Educational Service)
  • Be You Project
  • Addaction
  • School Counsellor
  • SCS  (Specialist Children’s Services)
  • Kenward Trust (Drug Use)
  • Positive Ed
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Police Liaison Officer

Rewards and celebrations

  • Termly celebration and reward assemblies recognise achievements in supporting wellbeing/demonstrating resilience.
  • End of year rewards –Peer support awards, Headteacher’s award for resilience and Mental toughness. Intellectual curiosity award.

 

[1] Sugata Mitra

[2] Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges Summary report August 2017; NatCen Social Research & the National Children’s Bureau Research and Policy Team; Page 3

[3]Association of Directors of Public Health

[4] Antoine de Saint-Exupery