As a school we provide social emotional and health support to young people within Blackburn with Darwen of both primary and secondary age pupils. Young people are referred via health professionals or home school. In May 2016, we decided as a school we wanted to enhance our staff knowledge of mental health and well-being and that of our young people and their families.
What We Did
As a school we provide social emotional and health support to young people within Blackburn with Darwen of both primary and secondary age pupils.
Young people are referred via health professionals or home school.
In May 2016, we decided as a school we wanted to enhance our staff knowledge of mental health and well-being and that of our young people and their families.
After much research, we embarked on a whole school approach with all colleagues trained as mental Health first aide T’s funded by public health within the borough. This training really enhanced our knowledge and practices of supporting young people and families. We lifted the lid of our own and others mental health.
A further 20 colleagues were trained as mental health youth workers. We continued with our mental health training throughout the academic year with group supervision sessions and safe talk training.
Along with individual support as a school we also have a half termly time to talk session in form time.
Each class takes part in an emotional health session weekly, this ranges from a whole afternoon at primary to form sessions at secondary.
Staff have a weekly mental health well-being breakfast for us to share and talk.
Wider Active Support
In September 2016, we embarked on a formal partnership with Lancashire Wildlife trust – my place project.
This has developed into our school gaining our own allotment which has sections for each age group.
This has enabled our young people to get outside and deep the benefits of the great outdoors.
As a school we have also formed a partnership with Lancashire Mind which has led to staff training on mindfulness and continued greater understanding of our own wellbeing.
Young people at St Thomas’s Centre regularly give feedback via our school council on school improvement.
They drive how time to talk is spent.
Our young people have designed our allotments and support each other in getting it right!
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
Looking back for our school we didn’t really have a plan – but for us everything has fitted into place.
We felt for staff to have a greater understanding of mental health and how we stayed well gave us a clearer picture to support our young people.
We embedded mental health into our whole school performance management targets again ensuring a common approach.
Our regular group supervision and daily meeting has meant we share scenarios and seek resolution together.
All colleagues are trained as mental health first aiders and as a school we have a rolling programme to update training. The mental health strategy does not belong to one person.
We have a member of staff responsible for 1:1 support, partnership with Lancs wildlife, partnership with Lanc mind, a colleague responsible for curriculum initiatives. We also have a dedicated budget for mental health and well-being.
Evaluation (Peer or Academic)
Our evaluation to date has been through 1:1 outcomes and as a school our self-evaluation.
We had a QA visit in Sept 2017 by an ex HMI who recognised our work in supporting mental health strategies.
Our attendance data and behaviour data shows our young people’s behaviour and attendance improves when attending ST Thomas’s centre.
Our re-integration data for primary and KS3 is improving.
Our KS4 data compared to similar schools is very good.
Our NEET figures at KS 4 are also very good.
As a school we have led conferences on the mental health agenda – speaking at an education and a governors conference. Our headteacher is currently working on an LA social emotional and mental health strategy.
As a school do to the success of our training we have managed to secure funding via the Public health department of the local authority to ensure every school within Blackburn with Darwen will have a least two mental health first aiders by Christmas 2017.
In partnership with Tauheedul education we deliver mental health training to graduates as part of the teacher training programme.
As the lead headteacher on the secondary behaviour and attendance panel our headteacher is working with other schools to devise a locally agreed mental health policy in schools.
Is there any other information you would like to add?
We feel as a school we really have embraced mental health and well-being for our young people and the wider community – we do not simply keep our knowledge to ourselves we share with other schools to build capacity. We will be most successful when as a pupil referral unit we are no longer needed and our young people are supported within their own schools.
We aim to build capacity in mainstream schools.