In March 2018 we applied to Awards for All (part of the Big Lottery Fund). In May we were notified that we had been awarded £10,000!!
Why did we apply?
Our vision is that our children are safe, happy & learning. Our ambitious curriculum readdresses this, but for some this isn't enough. The mental wellbeing of our children affects their happiness & learning, manifesting in their lack of readiness for learning, ability to make friends & their ability to express themselves.
We know this through our staff, community stakeholders, educational professionals & pastoral care team who identify very vulnerable children & families within our community.
We also know this from parents. From their drop ins with our learning mentor each day when they raise concerns, via feedback from our parent survey, from our parent voice meetings - a lot of their children are struggling.
Our Wellbeing project is a 3 wave strategy to address this.
Wave 1 introduces a free breakfast club for 12 months, open from 8.15am, run by existing staff. Free as costs are often the main barrier to getting parents to engage with activities outside of the normal day. Toast, fruit & nutritious snacks will be available. This ensures that the children have eaten - we know that a substantial number of children regularly turn up to school having not done so.
The main focus of the breakfast club will be the activities. These will vary day to day but will include gentle exercise of some sort to get them physically active, walking, yoga based postures & stretching, tai chi etc. We will also work on mindfulness & meditation exercise. Children who would benefit will attend in blocks, selected by staff. Over time we hope that children will be able to build their confidence, be able to use simple techniques to calm their minds, benefits from exercise & can walk in to class fed, alert & ready to learn.
Our second wave is to embed our Peer Support work with our Year 5 children. The playground can be a lonely place & it is important that the children have someone they can easily identify to raise minor concerns, to talk with or simply to play! We want to buy in a local provider with a nationally backed programme written by a child psychologist, to train our current Year 5 pupils so that in Summer 2018 we have 15 pupils trained as Peer Supporters within the school. The provision will also include the delivery of a whole day session to all of our Year 5 pupils that looks at differences & different perspectives, feelings, empathy, bullying, & resilience. From September the new year 6 will then model this on the playground & around the school. Importantly, with the help of our learning mentor, they will train the next year 5 Peer Mentors during their last year.
We know we can achieve the best for our children if child, carers & staff work in partnership. As such our most important school priority is the wellbeing of our WHOLE school community.
Our third & final wave will focus on people who have deep seated needs that we are unable to meet in school but would benefit by one to one counselling sessions. Counselling would be bought in and provide 4 sessions per week running for 6 week blocks for 12 months. These would primarily be given to children (agreed by our pastoral care team), but may be offered to a parent, or even a staff member if there was a need.
The academic succes of our pupils is very importance to us but realising their potential is so much more. We have one school rule "to choose." "Choose to listen, to lead, to look after one another & to learn". If our children can be enabled to do so through these interventions, we know we can get the best out of them.
We will use our experiences to shape future plans around learning, mentoring & nurture groups in the school.
How are we progressing?
Our Breakfast Club commenced Wednesday 5th September and feedback from the parents has been really encouraging. More importantly the kids are loving it! They enjoy the activities they do with Mrs Gutteridge and Miss Snowden and they really enjoy the food prepared by Mrs Hill.
Our one to one coaching continues to support the most vulnerable of our pupils and their families. Anecdotal feedback has been extremely positive from the children, families and staff.
In May 2019 our year 5 children will undergo training to become peer mentors. They will undertake this role as year 6 pupils from September 2019. They will also help train and support the next group of peer mentors during the summer of 2020.