We all have mental health. Mental health is about our feelings, our thinking, our emotions and our moods.
Looking after our mental health is important.
Over the course of their education, children spend over 7,800 hours at school.
With such a huge amount of time spent in the classroom, our school provides an ideal environment for promoting good emotional well-being and identifying early behaviour changes and signs of mental distress. The social and emotional skills, knowledge and behaviours that young people learn in the classroom can help them to build resilience and set the pattern for how they will manage their mental health throughout their lives.
Emotional well-being is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and well-being programmes in schools can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Well-being provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and bullying.
This is where the school community at Spalding Parish Church of England Day School are taking a stand – we are wising up to well-being.
This year we will continue to lead a cluster of schools, which work together as part of the Lincolnshire County Council Mobilise Project to promote the importance of emotional health and well-being in our school communities.
At Spalding Parish we are aware that the happiness and achievements of children in school depends upon many different people and factors, and lots can be done to protect to support the well-being of all involved, from the point of feeling calm, happy and resilient through to possible times of crisis.
Our ‘Happy, Healthy School Framework’ takes on a form of a graduated approach and has been built to address each aspect of well-being. Protecting and up-skilling all relevant stakeholders and raising awareness within the school community and beyond of matters concerning social and emotional well-being and resilience.
What are we doing as a school to support children with their mental health and emotional well-being?
- We recognise that children need to know that they matter, that we value them, that their voice can be heard, that we can help them, that we will be here for them. We acknowledge them every day through greetings, a gesture, a nod, a smile and a conversation.
- We talk about the power of ‘I know’, ‘I appreciate’, ‘I understand’. To children some things are huge, and we need to recognise this and affirm their feelings for that thing – be it a scratch they have, a funny feeling in their tummy, a sad feeling because of a falling out or a sigh because they cannot do something. We need to set aside our ‘rush’ to teach and ensure progress and attainment and ensure that we have done our best to support our children to be ready to learn – emotionally available. We do this at all levels – leadership to office staff, teachers to midday supervisors.
- We aim to embed one of our key initiatives, 5 Ways to Well-being, as part of Personal, Social and Health Education. The 5 Ways to Well-being have been researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation. They are a well-being equivalent to fruit and veg 5 a day – a set of really simple actions anyone can take to improve their well-being…
- All classes have now developed an emotional wall/area, which include visual reminders of each of the 5 ways, in order to support the development of children’s emotional literacy skills.
- We do not avoid talking about having healthy minds – our weekly Well-being Wednesday lessons link back to being emotionally available. We want it to become part of everyday language and embedded in practice and routine. This academic year we are going to focus on teaching pupils strategies to self-regulate and cope in stressful situations. This will include meditation, yoga and breathing exercises.
- Children will be provided a designated reflection time at the end of each school day, to reflect on one positive thing that happened that day. We strongly encourage our families to have similar discussions at home. Together, we can do so much more to help children develop a positive mindset.
- We are using monthly calendars from https://www.actionforhappiness.org/calendars in order to engage with our families.
- Mrs Bocock is a fully accredited, Mental Health First Aider.
- We have secured training for staff with the Restorative Solutions as we look to become a fully restorative school.
Here at the Spalding Parish Church of England Day School we have one qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA), Mrs Locke
If you have any queries, or would like to update Mrs Locke on any information that you think would be useful regarding your child’s ELSA sessions, please feel free to contact her via the following email address; email@example.com
Mrs Locke has undertaken specific training and accreditation, delivered by Educational Psychologists, to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs.
What is ELSA?
There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning. Some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others. Some children may have experienced trauma or bereavement that means they are not able to operate effectively at school with their friendships or learning and need additional support with their mental health and well-being.
We as a school recognise that children learn better and are more content when their emotional needs are being addressed and strive to meet these needs by providing a wide range of support.
The ELSA’s role is to support children and young people in school to understand and regulate their own emotions whilst respecting the feelings of those around them.
ELSA work can take place in a small group situation especially if the focus is on social or friendship skills but is usually delivered on an individual basis, which allows us to meet the specific needs of the child.
We have lots of fun in ELSA sessions and use a variety of different activities such as; playing games, role play, reading stories, drawing and colouring and crafts. ELSA sessions take place in our very own ‘ELSA room’ which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:
- Recognising emotions
- Anger management
- Social skills
- Friendship skills
- Loss and bereavement
How does ELSA work?
Children are usually referred to ELSA by a member of school staff. Parents can also refer their children to ELSA firstly by discussing this with their class teacher.
Once a child has been referred and a referral form completed the ELSA will contact the parent before beginning work with your child.
Intervention will usually take place over 6- 8 weeks and we often begin by getting to know each other; sharing our interests, completing a child-friendly self assessment, establishing some rules and building a positive relationship.
After the intervention, the ELSA may complete short 5- 10 minute ‘check in’ sessions to continue the relationship that was built, recap on strategies that they have been given, allow the child to share what has been working well and they may want to mention any difficulties they may be having.
Supporting- not fixing
Remember the ELSA is not there to fix children’s problems but to provide emotional support where possible. We aim to build warm and nurturing relationships with a pupil and provide a calm, reflective space to allow them to openly and honestly share their thoughts and feelings.
“Mrs Locke has supported me with my anxiety for a couple of years and she has really helped me. We did a session every week to learn strategies and ways to deal with it. She is always there for me when I need support and she is very positive.”
“If I am feeling anxious Mrs Locke always cheers me up and is very encouraging.”
“Mrs Locke has made my time at school a lot better and happier and I am so grateful for everything she does for me”
“I like seeing Mrs Locke because she is kind and helps me with my emotions. Mrs Locke helps me by calming me down and giving me strategies for when I get angry , sad and worried”
What do other parents think?
“Mrs Locke has supported both my child and myself over the last couple of years with my child’s anxiety. She worked with my child and developed strategies to help her manage her anxiety. I had regular meetings with Mrs Locke to discuss progress and talk about how we could help at home as a family. The regular sessions really helped my child and her anxiety became more manageable both at school and at home. Mrs Locke is very knowledgeable and tailored the sessions to meet my child’s specific needs. She also liaised with class teachers so they could help throughout the day when my child was feeling anxious by using the same strategies.”
“My child has access Healthy Minds and Grief and Loss through Mrs Locke’s referrals following this she has had regular sessions with Mrs Locke to teach her strategies to be able to manage feelings and anxieties. Now she has these skills my child benefits from regular check in’s with Mrs Locke. As a parent she has given me a wealth of knowledge and strategies to support at home and I know I can check in with her too if things are not working”
A Peek Inside…
Welcome to the ELSA room the children decided to call it the Nurture Nest.
5 Ways to Wellbeing https://www.mindkit.org.uk/5-ways-to-wellbeing/