The World Health Organisation defines wellbeing as: ‘a state of mind in which an individual is able to realise his or her own abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.’
At Hillside Primary School, we aim to promote positive mental health and wellbeing for our whole school community (children, staff, parents and carers), and recognise how important mental health and emotional wellbeing is in addition to physical health. As a school, we recognise that children’s mental health is a crucial factor in their overall wellbeing and can affect their learning and achievement and when developing the individual, we want to create resilient children who are able to cope, adapt and thrive in the ever-changing world around them.
Over the course of their education, schools provide an ideal environment for promoting good emotional wellbeing. At Hillside, we feel that the social and emotional skills, knowledge and behaviours that young people learn in the classroom and within their school community can help them to build life skills and resilience (alongside their academic abilities) and that this can support and prepare children for how they will manage their mental health during their lives.
At Hillside we continuously promote emotional health and mental wellbeing through the following:
- The school has an open-door policy that encourages positive relationships with parents. Consistent policies in relation to school behaviour, dress code, expectations for learning, bullying etc. are shared and enable the children to have a clear understanding of what is expected within school, creating positive relationships between staff and pupils. Positive praise is a huge focus and children are commended daily and through weekly celebration certificates for demonstrating the school values of Determination, Excellence, Respect, Courage, Equality, Inspiration and Friendship. Behaviour overall in and around school is excellent and children work hard to earn rewards and achieve to their best of their ability during the school day.
- Whole school, class specific and topic driven assemblies by subject leaders all provide children with opportunities to celebrate and share successes, flourish and drive aspirations. These discussions encompass rights and responsibilities, and children feel safe in school and so are able to push themselves and take risks within their academic and social learning. Furthermore, specific mental health assemblies celebrate differences and discuss mental health openly, driving the importance of good mental health in addition to good physical health. How to support themselves and others, when to seek help, and how to seek help all enable open discussions and consolidate the knowledge that there is a network of support surrounding them. Coping strategies are actively taught to all children and for those with specific needs, intervention further supports as necessary, for example, with friendship issues or confidence concerns. Children undertake awareness days and create self-soothe boxes for example, or use Zones of Regulation to support them in class.
- Training in Emotional and Mental Health is ongoing and varied for staff, enabling good practice to be shared and used in school. A whole school approach to promoting good mental health is evident in all lessons and in all areas of the school. Effective safeguarding, support for families through Early Help and working with many different agencies all enable staff, pupils and parents to follow protocol and feel reassured and safe at Hillside, as there is a clear understanding that safety and care for all children is of the utmost importance.
- Children with additional needs (SEND, SEMH or otherwise) are supported well through apt and targeted interventions and support in and around school. Parents and children are supported to understand any additional needs their children have through open and honest communication and where necessary, outside agency support is utilised at the first instance or support is sign-posted to help families who may have a specific need. Local support, training and group opportunities for children or parents are often shared by the school, for example how to access the Staywell Service or gain support from CAMHS.
- Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) is central to the curriculum across the school and is taught through specific lessons and holistically within Hillside. PSHE assists children to cope with changes within their lives and those that involve their body, it introduces them to the wider world, the language of choice, helps them to manage transitions and enables them to make an active contribution to their communities as well as building up their knowledge and bank of strategies as they develop and grow.
- The Computing curriculum details and supports the teaching of E-Safety. Ambassadors for this subject have been chosen from Key Stage 2 and support teaching by leading assemblies and promoting how to stay safe online. Lessons on self-image and online image also support positive self-esteem and support how to stay well mentally.
- Growth Mindset is a key part of the whole school ethos, where children are encouraged to attempt challenges, use metacognition strategies to build on prior learning and push themselves to achieve their very best. All children are encouraged through the school motto of ‘Developing the Individual’ to shine both within and outside of the school curriculum, and outside achievements are also celebrated.
- Careers Education across the school is developing aspirations in all children who are being given a wealth of opportunity to experience, discuss and investigate many wide-ranging careers. Support from parents who have visited school to share their job roles and many external visitors have created awe and wonder around the opportunities for children and the children are beginning to be able to detail what they need to do in order to be successful in their chosen career, creating plans and working towards their goals.
- Healthy relationship workshops are delivered by the school nurse and outside charities, and are built in to the curriculum (particularly in Upper Key Stage Two). Whole school events promoting mental health such as ‘Hello Yellow’ with Young Minds all enable children to build upon their knowledge of their own and other’s mental health and give opportunities for them to begin to understand what makes them happy through the promotion of shared events from Nursery to Year Six.
- Outdoor learning and Forest School sessions are used across the school and enhance the curriculum. The Early Years Foundation Stage have weekly sessions to enhance their understanding and knowledge of the world teaching and other classes utilise our vast outdoor resources to plan lessons that engage in a different environment, for example, Science learning in the woods observing seasonal change or Maths lessons collecting data outside.
- Educational visits and residential visits support outdoor learning and co-operative learning where children are supported to access their local area and work outside of the school environment. This supports the development of positive, trusting relationships within the wider community and prepares children for the wider world once they leave Hillside Primary.
- Clubs and interventions that promote mental well-being and mindfulness are being developed and children are offered targeted support to access these. In addition, all children are encouraged to work collaboratively, embrace their differences and show kindness to encourage positive mental health.
- Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Week is celebrated each year with themes supporting how to stay well and incorporating yoga activities, delivered by the Children’s Yoga Foundation or ‘Growing Together’ whereby children noticed growth both in the local environment and within themselves.
- Children have positive playtimes whereby they have a break from the classroom and get to enjoy time spent with their friends, pursuing their own interests, including use of the Timbertrails on all playgrounds which are accessed by children during break and lunchtimes alongside reading areas, places to play with Playground Buddies and peer support groups.
- Choir, Singing Stars and amateur dramatics clubs all support children to develop their confidence and shine in diverse areas of the curriculum.
- Sports clubs at lunchtime and after school include Rowing, Football, Rounders, and Multiskills and encourage healthy bodies as well as minds.
- Healthy school eating is encouraged and whole school celebration meals (for example, Christmas lunch or celebrating a national event) are frequent and enjoyed by many, giving children a sense of family and community when eating together and enjoying a shared meal.
- Healthy cookery sessions linked to the curriculum are planned within each year group and many children access Breakfast or Cookery Club as a before or after school activity to support cooking skills as well as appreciating the nurturing element of eating together.
There are many projects being run across the school to support proactive mental health understanding and development. Within EYFS, daily meditation and yoga are supporting mindfulness in addition to work being driven in Key Stage One around positive playtimes. A mental health club has been run within Key Stage Two to support kindness and children gained self-esteem through completing acts of kindness for others. In addition, staff well-being is being considered alongside children’s. Hillside has engaged with Health Works to improve not only the health and wellbeing of children but also all members of staff and the Carnegie Award for Mental Health is offering support and advice. A Mental Health First Aider is now in place and all staff members have undertaken and continue to undertake training relating to mental health, through the Staywell Service for example. The school rules are also referenced to support children on a daily basis and are an engrained element of the school culture: Be Kind, Be Safe, Show Respect.
Mindfullness – Emotional wellbeing class clips for KS1 and KS2
Mental Health – Mentally Healthy Schools
Children’s Mental Health week
NHS help for mental health – 5 Steps to Wellbeing
Changes (including the Staywell Service)
Combined Wellbeing (Stoke-On-Trent)
Bullying and Cyberbullying – NSPCC
Childline support services for pupils and parents
Bereavement – Child Bereavement UK
Suicide – Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.