Wellbeing can be understood as how people feel and how they function, both on a personal and a social level, and how they evaluate their lives as a whole. New Economics Foundation
Why is Wellbeing Important?
Wellbeing is a vital factor in each of our lives, shaping the way in which we understand ourselves and one another, and influencing a range of long-term outcomes. In the journey from childhood to adolescence and early adulthood, it becomes even more vital. Enjoying positive wellbeing opens the door to improved physical and cognitive development, better relationships with family members and peers, and a smoother transition to independence.
At Barton Court Grammar School we are delighted to be the only Grammar School in the Canterbury District to be chosen for phase 3 of the HeadStart Kent Project. The project aims to support young people by developing their skills of resilience and perseverance as they take the steps into young adulthood. Full detail of the Headstart project, along with associated resources can be found here: http://www.headstartkent.org.uk/
The school boasts a fully refurbished and staffed ‘Wellbeing’ room in the old school house; this is a specialist room developed and led by our SENCO, which provides a space within school for students to relax and discuss any issues, including strategies to move forward. The wellbeing room also hosts lunchtime mindfulness sessions for students, and provides a space for our 100+ trained peer mentors to be available for drop in sessions during break and lunch. We also have full provision to support the mental wellbeing of our learners, through access to school counsellors and external agencies where required.
Over 100 students from Y8 to Y13 have been trained as peer mentors over the last 2 years. Each peer mentor is matched to a tutor group in the year below. Peer mentors attend tutor times with their matched tutor group at least once per fortnight and provide small group support for their peers, as well as providing 1:1 support for individuals.
All students in the school complete a termly survey on wellbeing and resilience during tutor time. We use this survey to help identify students who may need additional support but have not yet come forward. We also use this information as a baseline measure to compare against, since students will repeat the survey each term, so we can see trends and patterns in wellbeing amongst our student population.
Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for Staff and Sixth Form
Through our involvement with HeadStart Kent, 3 members of staff have received the full Youth Mental Health First Aider training. In addition, a further 9 members of staff completed the introductory YMHFA lite course in 2018-19. This course was also open to parents and Sixth Form students to broaden our reach and enhance understanding and support amongst our school community. Training is provided by Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind – for which the link can be found below.
Mindfulness is a core aspect of the HeadStart Kent research. Opportunities for mindfulness are built into tutor time, using materials provided from the mindfulness training course. The pastoral team have received training in mindfulness techniques.
Students have access to Kooth.com, a website dedicated to supporting wellbeing by providing forums, articles and online counselling. The link for Kooth can be found below.
Wellbeing Forum Teams
At Barton Court Grammar School we have a dedicated team of staff who meet termly to discuss and address wellbeing issues among the student and staff body. There are strategies in place to boost staff wellbeing embedded throughout the academic year. Within each tutor group there is a wellbeing representative, who sits on a student wellbeing forum team to discuss and address wellbeing issues amongst students. The work of this team directly influences the content of PSHEE and tutor time, reacting to current issues within the community and providing educational support in matters such as knife crime, exploitation and drugs, in response to student requests.
Provision of Opportunities to Support Wellbeing
Elements of the PSHEE curriculum for KS3 and KS4 are supported by subjects across the school, particularly Science, PE, Food Technology, and RPE. The PSHEE curriculum includes the following core themes:
- health and wellbeing
- living in the wider world
Enrichment Days across the year provide opportunities for students to engage with a range of topics, issues, speakers, and access to sources of support. Enrichment Days offer directed activities that help students to identify ways in which they can identify risks, make choices that lead to emotional and physical wellbeing, and can deal with the roles and responsibilities they will encounter as they mature and reach adulthood. The wellbeing days are coordinated by Miss Breeds (Lead Teacher of PSHEE) with the support of Mrs Smith (Assistant Head Teacher). Students are involved in the planning of the Enrichment Days via wellbeing form representatives and evaluation forms.
HeadStart Kent: https://www.headstartkent.org.uk/
Maidstone and MidKent Mind https://www.maidstonemind.org/
Youth Mental Health First Aid: https://mhfaengland.org/individuals/youth/
Youth Wellbeing Directory: https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/youth-wellbeing/