Mental Health and Wellbeing
A happy child is able to learn.
At St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School, in line with the Government’s guidelines, we take a co-ordinated and evidence informed approach to mental health in school. This leads to improved pupil wellbeing, which, in turn, can improve learning. Our school is committed to promoting wellbeing as part of day-to-day school life.
At St Mary Magdalen’s we believe that we, as a school family, play a critical role in shaping the lives of our children and we are uniquely placed to address the challenges they face by prioritising mental health and wellbeing. When children look after their mental health and develop their coping skills, it can help them to boost their resilience, self-esteem and confidence. It can also help them learn to settle themselves, feel calm and engage positively with their education.
Twice yearly, pupil wellbeing questionnaires are carried out. This allows the children to freely express any worries or concerns they may have and staff members to easily identify and monitor those children who would benefit from additional wellbeing support.
The monitoring system used within school is known as CPOMS (Child Protection Online Management System). This is used by all staff with varying levels of access. All safeguarding, wellbeing as well as pastoral issues are documented. CPOMS allows for quick, easy and above all else secure, recording of all information held for a child, in one place. The resulting chronology around a pupil is automatic and certain trends are easier to identify rather than using a paper-based method.
Whole School Approach
This year (2023/2024) we are working with the NHS through their new programme 'My Happy Mind' to promote positive wellbeing in all children and adults. "Our programmes for teachers, parents and children help to prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s world by building resilient, balanced and happy minds at home, nursery and school."
More information can be found by visiting the website here
or by reading the information sent out to parents via Parentmail here
My Happy Mind newsletters:
Supporting Children with their Mental Health and Wellbeing
All members of staff at St Mary Magdalen’s are passionate about promoting good mental health and wellbeing. Our children are encouraged to develop emotional literacy. This is important as it gives them the ability to recognise, understand, handle and appropriately express emotions. In our school, as well as having staff members specifically trained as mental health first aiders, we also enlist the support and expertise of appropriate external agencies. Programmes are run in school designed to help children gain belief in their own capabilities. This includes building knowledge and skills to make healthy choices and develop independence.
During the first half term of every year (Autumn 1), all pupils in KS2 will take an online survey called PASS (Pupils attitude to self and school). The results of this extensive survey will allow staff to tailor support over the coming year for individuals or groups. Those who require additional support will then complete the same survey at the end of the year to see if the interventions put into place have helped.
To help with self-motivation/mood management and self-awareness, school provides bespoke activities:
- Wellbeing coaching – individual and group sessions
- Wellbeing weeks – a variety of tasks over a given week to promote mindfulness and wellbeing
- Pupil wellbeing ambassador – a committed pupil provides half-termly activities to focus on wellbeing. Reflection slips, worry boxes, compliment sharing
- Confidence workshops – covering a selection of activities
- A variety of after-school clubs – choir/textiles/dodgeball
- Yoga sessions – whole class sessions
- Dance sessions during school hours and out of school hours
- Musical instrument lessons
- Environmental tasks – gardening and outdoor skills to boost mood
- Residential retreats (KS2)
- Mindfulness activities – on a daily basis
Our Nurture Hub, starting in September 2023, was created as a direct response to the increasing demands on our school diary for wellbeing support for children and with the lessening additional classroom support available on a daily basis. Run by Mrs MacMillan, the Nurture Hub offers a bespoke programme of support for individuals or small groups. Mrs MacMillan offers a number of different programmes, including Lego Therapy, Memory Fix, Draw & Talk, ROAR and Social & Communication groups, but is always looking to further with new and innovative programmes. Programmes tend to last for up to 1 term and pupils are referred into the Hub by staff within the school.
Transitioning between one setting and another can lead to a range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety. For example moving from one class and teacher to another. For some pupils the transition to High School is very scary. Everyone experiences transitions differently. With this in mind, and to keep anxiety levels to a minimum, St Mary Magdalen’s takes this time very seriously.
- MOTHS (Moving On To High School). Starting in Year 5 and working closely with the local Secondary Schools. Initially both children and their parents will be invited to attend a transition session. This is led by the secondary schools. Year 6 pupils will then have several opportunities throughout the year to experience further “taster days.” For pupils who require more, arrangements are made for additional days in smaller groups. Parental consent is always sought for these children beforehand
- EYFS transition is handled in a very sympathetic and sensitive way, with support offered to both children and parents alike. Initially both children and parents can attend taster sessions building up to the children attending on their own. This promotes the development of independence for them
- All pupils have an internal transition day, spending time with their new teacher
- Enhanced transition takes place for those pupils who are affected by change within St Mary Magdalen’s. This is a six-week personalised programme delivered by the Teaching Assistant from their new class
Professionals used by school
For 1:1 sessions - Claire McNulty. Claire is a clinical hypnotherapist, and a wellbeing coach, she works with certain children in school who have been identified as needing additional wellbeing support.
Claire was a primary school teacher for over 20 years. It was through this career that she realised the need for more services relating to staff and pupils’ mental health and emotional wellbeing.
For parents, the school’s primary mental health practitioner provides training based on “The Incredible Years”. This provides parents and carers with the opportunity to develop their skills of understanding and behaviour management, giving children the ability to withstand the emotional and social challenges that they grow up facing in today’s world.
Children with additional needs will receive the expert support appropriate to those needs as well as personalised plans within the school environment. The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator, (SENDCo) is mindful of the mental health needs of these pupils and will enlist support from relevant organisations.
A designated member of staff is available as pastoral support. This role is specifically aimed at keeping positive relationships with pupils and parents alike. Those families needing support for whatever reason are welcome to come in and where possible guided towards the correct agency or professional body.
For looked after and previously looked after children, school works closely with the local authority and any other relevant agencies to monitor and address any wellbeing issues.
Good staff wellbeing is essential for cultivating a mentally healthy school, for retaining and motivating staff and for promoting pupil wellbeing and attainment.
Promoting children and young people’s wellbeing is a key part of keeping them safe, helping them develop and ensuring they have positive outcomes into adulthood (Public Health England, 2021).
Staff wellbeing is supported by:
- Whole school ethos
- Regular workload reviews
- Being part of a supportive team
- Having a happy and positive environment
Research has shown that happiness plays a vital role in the motivation and well-being of schoolchildren. Happiness in children has often been linked to other benefits such as better health, better learning, higher emotional literacy and good behaviour. This is what we strive for in St Mary Magdalen’s and sincerely hope that we are helping to deliver and promote happiness on a daily basis.