Promoting Positive Mental Health at Hurdsfield to become a BRILLIANTLY HAPPY school!
At Hurdsfield, we are proud to be a 'BRILLIANTLY HAPPY school where only our best will do'. But what does this mean? It means that we prioritise our learners' mental and physical health alongside our drive for academic excellence as we believe that for children to be truly successful they need to be happy on the inside as well as the outside.
For all our children to succeed and thrive we recognise the importance of the role school has in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children by developing whole-school approaches tailored to their particular needs, as well as considering the needs of individual pupils (as advised by DoE Nov.2018).
Through our enquiry-based curriculum it is our intent to foster ambition, embed core moral values and create a positive can-do attitude. This is supported by a whole-school approach to mental and emotional wellbeing delivered through regular assemblies, social media platforms, newsletters, classed based learning and direct teaching in the form of circle times, as well as Forest School and cultural capital experiences. This gives our pupils the opportunity to build and develop their self-esteem, forge positive relationships with their peers and teaching staff and encourages a strong sense of belonging to our “Brilliantly Happy School”.
We take a proactive approach to mental health and well-being across our school. Our approaches are summarised below:
Tier 1 - Curriculum Design and Delivery
- The teaching and promotion of mental health and wellbeing are embedded in our bespoke curriculum design. These are part of our values drivers which form the basis for our enquiry questions.
- We are proud to adapt 'No Outsiders' as a way of teaching our children about the Equality Act of 2010 but also as a way of teaching our children that everyone is different, and that's OK and everyone is welcome in our school.
- We are also proud to explicitly teach our children about happiness through the teaching of mental health and well-being sessions based on the scheme 'My Happy Mind'. This is a DfE and NHS approved scheme of learning which provides an age-appropriate understanding of both how the brain works and how children can celebrate themselves, appreciate their skills and relate to others.
- Circle time is used in all Hurdsfield’s year groups as a way of teaching that ensures that all pupils get the chance to contribute and feel valued. It boosts interpersonal skills, strengthens relationships and enhances self-confidence whilst allowing the class and its teacher to have fun together. It can be used proactively in teaching or reactively when it's necessary to tackle issues that may arise and affect the wellbeing of others. It is engaging and improves both listening and speaking skills as well as emotional intelligence. It also gives a platform to experience success and celebrate with peers.
Tier 2 - Targeted Support
- Our Pastoral Support is also incredibly important at Hurdsfield.
- Our Learning Mentor, Mrs. Baxter, is a fully qualified 'Mental Health First Aider' and is also a fully qualified 'Forest School' Leader. She is also qualified to deliver the therapeutic interventions for our learners, including 'Drawing for Talking' as well as liaises with outside agencies to broker support for our children and families as needed.
- In order to further support our learners' emotional health, we also have a member of staff who is an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant and has received training from the Education Psychology Team. This further enables our school to both assess and baseline emotional wellbeing and provide targeted and personalised support to ensure we address all emotional needs and allow all children to prosper.
Tier 3 - Outdoor Learning
We are so lucky to have our very own ‘forest’ on-site at Hurdsfield. This allows all year groups at some point to have weekly access to immersive, outdoor activities outside of the constraints of the classroom, whilst connecting with nature and the seasons. Participation encourages a host of opportunities to develop their emotional competencies, self-risk management, communication and team-building skills, as well as physical and creative challenges.
- There have been extensive studies on Forest school and the links to good mental health and emotional wellbeing. Forest school practice is informed by the work from educators such as Froebel and Steiner. They argue that children learn greater by ‘doing’ and through experiences and that the connection with nature and the natural world plays an important factor. Froebel in particular emphasises the importance of play as being the highest level of child development and that it is the ‘Spontaneous expression of thought and feelings’. With that in mind, reflective practice is a feature of each session to ensure learners can understand and communicate their achievements, thoughts and feelings and share with their peers. This is often delivered through ‘circle time’.
- Forest school can be used for small group intervention where a learner-centered approach is employed that is responsive to the needs of the pupils and desired outcomes are facilitated. Forest school underpins our broad and varied curriculum and teaches transferrable skills and experiences that ultimately promote good emotional health and wellbeing and contribute to Hurdsfield being a “Brilliantly happy school”.
Mrs Baxter (Learning Mentor) is fully qualified to support children in the following areas:
- Signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders, stress and depression.
- Assessing for a suicidal crisis.
- Assisting with panic attacks or traumatic events.
- Assisting individuals with psychosis.
- Self-harming/self-harming pathway.
- Eating disorders.