Last week, professionals from a range of services made themselves available to parents and the wider community in Birchwood Preschool's Buds building. Sarah, Chris, Katie, Michelle, Sam and Mrs Webb provided information, support and signposting to those who dropped in. Support on offer included guidance on continence, sleep, fussy eaters, behaviour strategies, finance, managing anxiety and anger, accessing dental care, difficulties with peer relationships, family break-up, bereavement and SEND. The next two sessions will take place on:
Thursday 19th January at 8:30-9:30am in the conference room at Birchwood Primary School
Wednesday 8th March at 3:30-5.00pm in the lower school hall at Birchwood (Early parents evening)
If you would like any information or support before these dates, please visit our wellbeing section on the school website which can be found under the safeguarding tab, or contact Mrs Webb or Mrs Day at school.
At Birchwood, we believe that as well as supporting children to be the best they can be academically, it is even more important to support children to be the best they can be both socially and personally.
There is mounting research that suggests that a person’s mental wellness has a significant impact on their ability to learn, enjoy life experiences and form positive relationships. For this reason, Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) provision is weaved throughout the school curriculum and daily experiences. This starts at the beginning of the day where the class teacher takes the time to meet and greet pupils as they enter school, there are planned lessons, assemblies and targeted group activities that teach children how to reflect on their own feelings, strategies for developing resilience and problem solving to overcome barriers. All members of staff, from dinner supervisors to Mr Coleman, encourage children to talk to them regularly about any positive or negative events going on in their lives so that pupils always feel they have a trusted, and emotionally available adult to talk to while at school. When the school is made aware of events that may impact on a pupil’s wellbeing or concerns parents have, information is shared swiftly and confidentially with the relevant members of staff so that support can be put into place for both the pupil and family. We have a positive behaviour policy and pastoral care policy which identify how we operate in a manner that supports the mental wellbeing of all pupils. The wide range of pupil councillors also means that we regularly hear the pupil’s voice on what is working for them and how we can improve. Our website includes links to local authority and NHS services that can support mental wellbeing for both adults and children under the SEND tag and our newsletter regularly report on local events being held by the mental health services.
We have achieved the Wellbeing Award for Schools (WAS) which aims to promote positive social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and wellness for pupils and staff in schools. Through our work on this we opened up our offer to involve representatives from all areas of our school community to be critical friends and partner with us on this journey. Mental health and well-being is still a very private or even taboo subject for many people. Our school aims to always be a place where both adults and pupils feel comfortable discussing their own wellbeing, confident in knowing what they can do to support their own wellbeing and able to reach out in times of need by providing support and signposting.
We are constantly investigating new ways of improving how we support children and the community we serve. As part of this process, we are engaging with the wider trust, and through the development of the Community Academies Trust Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Provision Offer we have been key in developing and agreeing an offer for all schools within the trust, at universal, targeted and specialist help levels. This year we have welcomed a play therapy provsion as part of our specialist offer and will be assessing the impact of this throughout the year.
Views and opinions of our children:
In our school, we learn about how important it is to talk about our feelings and emotions.
'We talk about our ‘Early Warning’ signs and have lessons about our network so we know who we can speak to.'
'We have assemblies and sometimes visitors come in and help us like the school nurse and the power of one people.'
'The lessons help me understand and manage my feelings.'
'Some children go out and teachers help them or we can use our worry box.'
My school really cares about me and how I am feeling.
'When I’m feeling down, people always help me back up.'
'All the teacher check we are having a great time and are happy. They ask you how you are and help when you are not ok.'
'Our teacher knows us well and notices if we are unhappy and does something about it.'
'Teachers do not focus on one person all the time. They share time with everybody because they care about every pupil.'
If needed, I would feel comfortable talking about how I am feeling at school.
'Our teachers are so patient and kind I know I can talk to them.'
'The teachers at school are trustworthy and make it comfortable to talk to them.'
'There are a wide range of people you can talk to. There is always someone to listen to you if you need someone.'
My teachers know when I am feeling worried or unhappy.
'I know this because if they see I don't seem myself they will ask if I’m ok?'
Views and opinions of our parents:
Everyone at the school supports each other if they are feeling worried or unhappy.
'I love that teachers encourage pupils to talk to them and their peers and everyone looks out for each other.
You can see this by just looking at how happy the children are.'
The school really cares that everyone has good emotional wellbeing and mental health.
'My experience proves how Birchwood take wellbeing and mental health seriously. Their support is second to none and they are always looking for new initiatives to take this support further.'
'My daughter is a very emotional child and the staff at the school have been so supportive to both of us.'
'They have looked out for us as a family and referred us on to other things.'
It is clear that good emotional wellbeing and mental health is important to the school.
'The time that the school puts into this area is superb. They always have time to discuss any issues, from class teachers to the Head Teacher.'
'The school have really looked after my child and recognised he really struggles. They have put his wellbeing before everything else.'
The school encourages parents to talk about how they and their children are feeling.
'I speak openly to my children about their feelings and this is encouraged in newsletter articles by the school and teacher comments.'
'Advice is given and information available if and when I need.'
'The school always has time to discuss any changes in circumstance. They work empathetically with parents to resolve and find the best support for children and their family.'
'All of the school staff are approachable- Head Teacher, Deputy, Class teacher and office staff.'