Over the years we have established a number of initiatives to support children’s well-being as well as on-going training for adults to better understand the ways we can support positive mental health. We recognise the link between being physical active and positive mental health as well as the importance of children exercising choice in how to spend their free time so they can truly relax in between lessons and return refreshed and ready for learning.
We are lucky to have a running track that means the children can get their heart rates up each day. A daily run is timetabled for each class, many children run a mile, and some even more!
“Running gives me loads of energy and I can write better” child in Year 3
Our grounds include a large field, adventure playground, playground, Play Pod and a quiet garden. These are all available to children at lunchtimes. In addition we offer a lunchtime art club daily and sports club twice a week.
“It’s quite loud on the playground and if I want a quiet time I go to the quiet garden or art club.” Child in Year 4
“With the Play Pod you can let your imagination run free” child in Year 5
In Reception and Year 1 we offer play-based learning to reduce the anxiety we were aware some children felt when faced with ‘formal learning’. We believe play-based learning to be developmentally appropriate and have worked hard to ensure that children learn the full curriculum through play without compromising our high standards. This year we have moved our approach into Year 2 and we are excited to make it happen for these children. It is a truly inclusive approach to learning, providing challenge, opportunities and support for children of all abilities so they continue to learn together rather than in ability groups.
Equally, for some of our children with special educational needs, a full academic curriculum would be exhausting and disheartening. We therefore offer a bespoke approach which can include alternative afternoon provision, education off site or simply a personal break out space with sensory resources to enable a child to refocus and return to learning.
Our Forest School programme is offered to all children: weekly in reception, alternate terms in Y1 and Y2 and one 6 week block per year in KS2.
Despite our best efforts, life sometimes means that children need some addition support to understand and manage difficult emotions. We offer two additional afternoon Forest School sessions in very small groups aimed specifically at developing confidence, self-esteem and emotional literacy.
“It gives me a boost in my confidence – I feel happy, calm, not stressed. Without it I would have a poor attitude. I have learned to let things go.” Child in Year 5
“I feel really happy and I don’t feel like I’ve got anything on my mind. I just feel I only need to have fun & I have fun. It makes me feel I can enjoy myself and have fun anywhere.” Child in Year 4
We also have ELSA trained staff who prove group sessions for children.
We noticed that one of the most powerful interventions was a daily meet and greet for some children to help them get in the right frame of mind for school. As a result we offer a morning nurture session before school where they can enjoy the company of their friends and some fun activities before school starts.
Some children need even more intensive support and we are lucky that we can offer a trainer counsellor as well as a trained play therapist when children have deep seated emotional difficulties.
As a staff team we have training in:
- Mental Health First Aid
- Forest School Leader
- Early Child Development
We also have a PE specialist on the staff team who is passionate about sport as a social activity developing personal and physical skills.
Visiting the school we have a counsellor, play therapist, drama therapist and music therapist
Children have attended off site provision including Greatwood Horse Charity and Lakeside Care Farm. These are both aimed at developing emotional and social skills and provide children with respite from the academic curriculum.