The award focuses on changing the long-term culture of a whole school, making it a place of emotional wellbeing and support by improving mental health provision for all pupils and staff.
“As a school, we started our journey a little over a year ago, in January 2020, and looked at how we already supported the wellbeing of our pupils, parents and staff and what else could we do,” said Head Teacher, Pauline Northcott. “This became the basis for our action plan.”
“We know reading and writing are important but we also believe that we should be healthy in body and mind and this award would show that we cared about this,” she explained. “Then Covid hit and we were sent into lockdown.
“We created a ‘change team’ to help drive any changes we were going to make and to collect evidence showing our support of the mental health and wellbeing of the whole school community.
“We have created a link with the Mental Health Support Team from the Local Authority, who work with us in supporting not only the children’s mental health but also that of the parents. This has helped us signpost and direct them to the support and help they may need.
“We have also created ‘wellbeing buddies’ who are nominated children from each class and are there to support their classmates if they need help or a listening ear.
“The buddies are supported by our ‘Wellbeing Champions’, who are designated members of staff from across the school who children know they can bring their worries to.
“Alongside this, the staff have attended mental health conferences as well as other training, building on the whole school ethos and culture that mental health and wellbeing matters.”
The school’s hard work has paid off and last month, just over a year after beginning the process – and being affected by three lockdowns – the school was recognised as a champion of wellbeing when it officially received its Wellbeing Award for Schools.
“With this attitude at the centre of everything we do at Dean Bank,” added Mrs Northcott, “we know this will give the children that attend the foundation they need to access their learning and achieve everything that they are able to.”