Across the Rushmoor and St Andrew’s Alliance, wellbeing is a crucial part of school life. It is our priority to ensure that pupils are happy, healthy and well cared for during their time with us. Our small size allows us to provide individual attention to each of our pupils to ensure they are coping with the challenges that life can bring. Our Form Tutors are supportive and are pleased to communicate with families about ways we can assist a pupil. Our leadership team value the importance of a hands-on approach and enjoy being involved in the everyday routines of school life. This means that our leadership have a good relationship with the pupils and this helps to provide a high level of mutual respect. We are quick to respond to the needs of our pupils and communicate effectively with their families.
At times, life can be tough and we know that pupils can value the advice and care of their peers. We have Wellbeing Ambassadors across the year groups who can offer a friendly ear and support to those who need it, which is quite often all that is required for somebody who has been feeling a bit anxious to get back on the right track.
We encourage our pupils to take control of their own wellbeing and actively promote discussion on social skills and have ‘talking friends’ groups. We acknowledge that everybody is different and provide safe-havens for those who prefer a quiet escape at break and lunchtimes instead of the nosier playgrounds.
We encourage understanding in our pupils and in all our staff. Staff look out for those pupils who are shy or less outgoing and gently encourage them. For instance, we strongly believe that all abilities should have access to sport and fitness activities. We also like everybody to take part in performing arts. These, and more, can help develop an individual’s self-esteem, which is vital to our way of teaching and learning. Being quickly aware that somebody is struggling is important to us and we will do all we can to help them.
School Counsellor and Pastoral leadership
We have a qualified Counsellor who is available for individual appointments to provide reassurance and guidance for pupils who require a little bit extra support.
As well as the provision of a trained Counsellor, we have teaching staff who lead our pastoral support. They are on hand to listen and provide guidance to pupils who need it. They can work in conjunction with the Counsellor and with families to ensure that a consistent pastoral approach helps to assist with specific issues.
Emotional Literacy Support Assistants
As of October 2020, we embarked on the ISA national training programme to support children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. Further details on the benefit of this training will be available once staff have successfully completed the course.
Outside agencies and initiatives
We can liaise with outside agencies to offer further help on any wellbeing issues. We also take part in initiatives such as the ‘Girls on Board’ Scheme, a programme we use for the senior girls at our St Andrew’s site. It helps them navigate the often-troubled waters of friendship problems, allowing the girls, their parents and their teachers to understand the complexities and dynamics of girl friendships. The language, methods and ideas empower girls to solve their own friendship problems and recognises that they are usually the only ones who can. By empowering girls to find their own solutions, parents need worry less, schools can focus more on the curriculum and the girls learn more effectively – because they are happier.
Often, we invite visitors into the school to talk about wellbeing issues. The visits are backed-up with regular assemblies and form time, which cover important issues such as mental-health awareness.
In our Sixth Form, we openly discuss mental health issues and ways to cope with them as we prepare our sixth formers for life at university and beyond.
We raise awareness of mental health concerns through activities such as raising funds on World Mental Health Day in October through mufti days. We also promote the WE Movement, which empowers young people to fulfil their potential by developing their personal wellbeing and workplace readiness through social action. We support their belief that building the confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills of young people will lead to the next generation of healthier and happier active citizens.
Pupils from across the Alliance have been going to the annual WE Concert for a number of years and then cascading their experience down to the rest of our school community. We can promote confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills in our pupils throughout their school day, but we can also provide extra-curricular opportunities to develop these skills, such as the Combined Cadets Force experience and also the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Above all, we understand that school is far more than academic results; it is about developing our pupils for the adult world and providing them with the right tools in terms of confidence and high self-esteem, which will help them to reach their potential.