At Hatherop, we are constantly trying to enhance and improve the pastoral care and mental health of our school community in a post Covid world.
Over the past 12 months, all staff have undergone specialised mental health training, this has been further reinforced with training this September in partnership with the Charlie Waller Foundation. In addition, we now have two full time members of staff who have undertaken their ELSA training, thus providing more opportunities for children to speak to a qualified member of staff.
We have brought in dedicated mental health lessons that tutors delivered during our weekly pastoral form sessions using our Heads-Up Mental Health Toolkit. These sessions cover topics such as promoting emotional well-being, looking after oneself, supporting friends, dealing with anger, food and mood, managing stress and healthy relationships.
We also have an external professional who comes to the school every week to deliver wellbeing and resilience training – Across the whole school and this is a 6-week targeted programme. She started with Prep 2 and continues through the school right up to Prep 8.
We have a new designated mental health lead – Becky Walker, she is trained along with the DSL in youth mental health first aid. Her main role is to provide ELSA support for booked in and drop in sessions in our Safe Sanctuary Zone throughout the day when they need to see a friendly face and someone to listen to. When children need a place to go to if they are having a moment of crisis.
Pastoral in Boarding
We have recently introduced ‘Mindfulness Monday’ in the boarding house. This is when the whole boarding family come together in the common room and do a mindfulness activity together which could be; mindfulness colouring, yoga, dancing sessions or just a simple positivity session.
Many children also have their own positivity happiness journals which they are encouraged to write in whenever they feel the need to express their emotions or celebrate something positive. We have also brought in ‘The Happy Newspaper’ to the boarding house.
There is also a wide array of mindfulness leaflets in the boarding common room and display board. This board also informs them about people they can talk to and useful apps they can use to log their emotions. In conjunction with this we also have a line set up for boarders to call their ‘Independent listener’ This is someone they can call from out of school who they can talk to in confidence.
The introduction of YOTO players has been transformational in the boarding house, parents often record themselves reading their child’s favourite bedtime story for them to listen to each evening before they go to bed. This has been particularly effective with our younger boarders and helped ease the stress of feeling homesick enormously.
To increase the amount of opportunities children have for reflection and mindfulness, we have increased these clubs and activities. Clubs such as mindfulness colouring and yoga have been added and are proving to be very popular throughout the whole school.
Finally, children in the School Council delivered an assembly this term during Children’s Mental Health Week which focused on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and how children can support their own mental health. These ideas were reinforced in pastoral time through the week by tutors who provided support lessons for children focusing on mental health.
All these steps have led to Hatherop being recognised as a happy and high achieving school where children are confident to be themselves.