Mental Health and Well-Being
At Stretton Sugwas, we understand just how important mental health and well-being are on the development of a child. Children will not grow to achieve their potential if they are not fed emotionally. To help achieve this, we need to allow children opportunities to talk about their feelings. It's okay not to be okay. What works really well is when parents/carers let us know of any worries or disruptions at home that may be unsettling for the children. We can then allow time in school for children to talk and develop their resilience.
As well as our open door approach, and the outside agencies that visit the school on a regular basis, the other strategies that we commonly use for developing mental health and well-being are:
The Feelings Jigsaw
This is a method of self-registration and "checking-in", where pupils move their individual bee onto an emotion that corresponds to how they're feeling. The effect is that not only does the child get to communicate they're emotions using an easy, non-verbal way, but the adults get to identify the children in need of intervention.
Parents' work commitments can be very unsettling, especially if they spend long periods away from the home setting. We have a dedicated club for our children who experience this on a regular basis. The worry and anxiety often associated with parents working away and family disruptions can be discussed and strategies given to cope with this.
The club is a drop-in for those who need it and it's a great way of children talking to each other and offering advice too.
Thanks to our friends at Wye Mediation, we have an established team of Peer Mediators who receive training on how to handle disputes in the yard and help children to solve disagreements.
The team can be identified on the yard by any children who need a mediation, as they have an easily identifiable uniform consisting of a bright high-vis vest containing their logo.
Partnerschools in Pakistan
We are delighted to be in a partnership project with three schools in Pakistan, as well as Holmer Academy from Hereford. Hira Foundation School, Alyabad Community School and Sun Academy are all from Karachi, Pakistan, and the relationship between us all greatly enriches the curriculum.
Currently, our older pupils are engaged in a project to develop pupil voice leading to improving the provision for Mental Health in each school.
Hereford Cathedral Art Project
The Ascension Project is a relationship between ourselves, St Mary's c of E Academy, Credenhill, and the Cathedral. Through looking at the meaning within art, we hope to give pupils the opportunity to express their feelings, especially if parents spend long periods of time working away from home.
Behaviour System and Kindness Jars
Our behaviour system has developed over the years to become a far more edifying and restorative process.
Children are encouraged to get to the root of any concerning behaviour and enter a model of reflection and discussion with peers and the class teacher in order to establish positive next steps and visualise what this might look like.
Kindness jars are also used to further positively reward behaviour that has an impact on others.
Our behaviour model have been developed as part of a University of Edinburgh programme.
At Stretton Sugwas, we have a system whereby the older pupils support the younger ones. Every Friday after assembly, for example, our Y6 pupils will take part in "Buddy Reading" with the younger ones. This not only helps academically with reading standards but also is an important part of establishing friendships for the younger pupils and giving responsibility to the older ones. It gives the children a voice and shows them that they are important at our school.
Worry Boxes and Circle Time Bees
As part of our commitment to Mental Health and appreciating all pupils' opinions and beliefs, each class has a Worry Box which is used to anonymously post concerns for the class to discuss and offer advice to. These also double up as prayer boxes, where some pupils may wish to post a prayer for help.
We also use circle time as a way of allowing children opportunities to discuss issues that are close to them. Naturally, a bee mascot is used to pass around the circle to each person that speaks and shares.
We work closely with secondary schools as well as communicate in depth with the next class teachers so that pupils have a smooth transition each academic year.
We employ a full-time learning mentor to cater for pupils' emotional and academic needs.
School Council and Pupil Voice
Pupils voice underpins our curriculum and children are encouraged to speak out, discuss and share their opinions and feelings. We are a listening school.