Children’s Mental Health: What is the role of school?
This year has put mental health sharply in the spotlight. The global health pandemic has forced pupils to learn differently, to lose close contact with vital friendship groups and to break with the routine of coming into the classroom where they are supported and nurtured on their educational journey. The Hampshire School Chelsea shares how they support their pupils.
One cannot under-estimate how tough it has been for pupils this year. Sobering statistics point to a sharp rise in mental health problems among children and young people, most often anxiety. Every school’s pastoral care programme has had to kick in with a higher level of support to maintain pupil wellbeing.
At The Hampshire School Chelsea, we pride ourselves on having a culture of care which ensures that each pupil is highly supported and valued. The pupils develop a growing sense of self-esteem, resilience and wellbeing in an ethos of consideration and respect for one another.
Much is talked about a Growth Mindset approach to learning and in our experience it works as it encourages every pupil to build the confidence to succeed. We view failure as a starting block, letting children know that they can pick themselves up and start again. It’s generally not a question of ‘I can’t do it’ but more a case of ‘I can’t do it yet’.
Pupils are not alone as every one of us has both physical and mental health. Mental health is about our feelings, our thinking, our emotions and our moods. We all have feelings that come and go every day. However, as with our physical health, each of us can have problems with our mental health from time to time. These problems can stop us from getting on with our lives and can change how well we feel, how we see the world, how we behave and how we get on with others.
It is really important that, if pupils are worried about something, they can talk. At The Hampshire School Chelsea, we have several systems to support pupils in this way. The first point of call is the Form Tutor who is there every day and more than happy to talk about anything. Pupils can write out their ‘worry’ and put it in the ‘Worry and Wonder Bag’ for the Form Tutor to check.
PSHE lessons provide another opportunity for open discussion. Our school also offers Friday ‘open talk’ during Pupil Voice and Wellbeing Time (PVWT).
In addition, we utilize a useful Wellbeing Scale for pupils to ‘check in’ with their emotions and see how they are feeling each day.
So important is the pastoral care provision at the school that we have not one but two Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA), Deputy Head Mr McSherry and Ms MacIness.
We believe wholeheartedly in listening to our pupils, whether it is to help them with their mental health or indeed to listen to their views and opinions. One of the key areas of development at the school is Pupils Driving Change as we believe that children are important influencers of policy and decision-making and have a genuine and legitimate right to be heard.
Pupils know at our school that they can use multiple channels to voice concerns or opinions. We have six development groups, rather than a school council at the school, and they act as a forum for pupils to share opinions, decide on initiatives and generally make the school thrive. It is only then that pupils can develop key life skills and strive for personal fulfilment and high standards.
Pupils can find a host of online resources too. For example, the You online ‘Wellbeing Hub‘ has plenty of resources, suggestions for fun activities to help pupils.
The Hampshire School Chelsea is Finalist in the 2020 ISA Awards for Junior Prep School of the Year, the only London prep school to be nominated, and also as a finalist in the category, Innovation in Pupil Voice.
Come and see why your child would flourish at our Pre-School, Pre-Prep and Prep School. Read tips on choosing the right early years school here. Find us at 15 Manresa Road, Chelsea, SW3 6NB. Register your interest and learn more details at https://www.thehampshireschoolchelsea.co.uk/open-day