Mental Health and Wellbeing
At St Andrew’s and St Mark’s CofE Junior School, we are committed to supporting the positive mental health and wellbeing of our whole school community (children, staff, parents and carers). We recognise that mental health and wellbeing is just as important to our lives as physical health.
We have a supportive and caring Christian ethos and our approach is respectful and kind; each individual and contribution is valued. At our school, we know that everyone experiences life challenges that can make us vulnerable and, at times, anyone may need additional emotional support.
Supporting Wellbeing in School
We are committed to supporting pupils' mental wellbeing throughout the year:
Whole school approaches:
Collective worship - is where the school meets as a community each day. Persistent issues are addressed here, often through the lens of our Christian Theme. For example, we have been learning this half term about how learning to forgive can make us feel better as well as the person who has wronged us. The Bible is used as a ‘guide’ to show us how we should behave, even if it challenges us. This promotes pupil wellbeing through teaching us how to have a positive mindset.
Spiritual garden (seasonal) - this is a staffed place at lunchtime for any pupil to speak about pastoral matters with a member of the teaching assistant team. This is a brilliant space for pupils to share their worries.
Spacemakers - all pupils complete a daily 'Spacemakers' contemplation after lunchtime as a way of encouraging a time of daily reflection away from the pressures of school and society. The toolkit is founded on ancient pathways and practices of meditation and prayer that have resourced, benefitted and healed Christians for generations.
Check-ins - these take place twice a day in all classes. Pupils are able to write comments for their class teacher via a Google Form. Teachers are then able address wellbeing issues with individuals.
Worry boxes - are in each classroom and also outside Mr. Gates' office, for any member of the class to post (anonymously or named) any concerns.
Individual pupil support:
Interventions - such as nurture baking and other SEMH (social, emotional and mental health) interventions, as well as ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) support may be allocated to pupils based on need, as assessed by teachers and the SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator).
Calm Club - a quiet and safe environment at lunch time which is invitation only. Any member of staff can recommend a pupil for Calm Club.
Safe spaces - Bespoke ‘safe spaces’ are available for pupils who suffer from dysregulation or high anxiety - pupils know they can access these at any time.
Art therapy - Pupils may be invited to take part in art therapy sessions, led by by a member of staff from the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) service.
Pet therapy - a therapy dog called Nelly visits our school once a week and spends time with individuals or small groups.
Individual parent and carer support:
Parent/carer workshops - Parents and carers have been invited to workshops led by our Education Psychologist in supporting children with anxiety through strategies to build their resilience.
Education Wellbeing Practitioners (EWP) - from the Mental Health Support Team work with referred individual families to provide strategies, advice and support. Speak to Emily Woodward (Senior Teacher) via the office if you might benefit from this service.
If your child is struggling with anxiety or challenging behaviour at home, we recommend using the PACE strategy:
P: be playful with your child and focus on positive language e.g. ‘tell me 2 great things that happened today’; reduce stress around challenging topics by adding a layer of play such as drawing together, blowing bubbles, completing a crafty activity.
A: accept your child and their feelings by reminding them that they are safe and loved and thank them for sharing worries with you.
C: be curious about the emotions they may be experiencing e.g. ‘I wonder if you are feeling …. because I can see you are doing ….’; give them the vocabulary that they may not have yet.
E: be empathetic and remind them that all emotions are ok whilst reminding them about boundaries and acceptable behaviour e.g. ‘It’s ok to feel angry and I understand why you are feeling this way but hitting is not ok. What other strategies can we use when we’re feeling angry?’
Calming strategies to try at home
At school, we often use mindful breathing as a strategy for dealing with anxiety or heightened emotions. Try finger breathing with your child at home!
We also encourage using the ‘grounding technique’ with children:
Name 5 things you can see.
Name 4 things you can touch.
Name 3 things you can hear.
Name 2 things you can smell.
Name 1 emotion you can feel.
With all of these strategies, we recommend an adult doing the activities alongside the child until they are confident enough to do them alone.
Here are some further resources that could be used to support the mental wellbeing of you and your child. If you feel that you require any further support, please contact the school at email@example.com
A booklist to support children's mental health and wellbeing: Reading Well Booklist
Self-care suggestions: https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/
Dealing with anxiety: https://tutorful.co.uk/guides/the-expert-guide-to-help-your-child-with-anxiety
Parents’ survival guide: https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/parents-survival-guide/
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families: https://www.annafreud.org/parents/