Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff
Wrotham School has made significant efforts to ensure that supporting the wellbeing and mental health of all of our students and staff is of the utmost importance, going beyond our official obligation or accountability. The school has a strong sense of community and a clear ethos that is understood by our staff and students – that is one of respect, empathy and tolerance.
A safe place with exemplary support and care
We want Wrotham School stakeholders to know and believe that it is a safe and tolerant place to be with support and care that is exemplary. We have an experienced and well lead pastoral support system and safeguarding team. Students and parents trust us to use our professional judgement to give support where it is wanted and needed.
Our pastoral team is structured in such a way that we have experienced Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year for each year group, supported and overseen by an experienced Senior Leadership team. Each year group has a learning journey mapped out for the year, where ‘progress-time’ activities, assemblies, trips and visits are planned to offer students the chance to develop and demonstrate character strengths.
Students recognise and value their mental health and well-being
Building such character develops a students’ self-respect and confidence, which in turn helps students to recognise and value their mental health and wellbeing. Each year we take the time to explore the British Values of tolerance and respect; we deliver assemblies and Progress-time activities on LGBTQ+ issues, race and inequality, and make clear our expectations around student and staff behaviour and language.
Our aim is to make students aware of the many areas young people will experience triggers for poorer mental health and mitigate those through education and open discussion. We are clear in our language and actions that behaviour that demonstrates intolerance or disrespect is not acceptable. Through this consistent message we know that our young people are better prepared to recognise and act when they see a lack of the core character strengths our school upholds.
Students that are confident to seek support
We make clear our understanding of supporting mental health being as important as physical health through our pastoral activities and support structures. Our students are confident to seek support from our outstanding MAC (Multi-Agency-Centre) team of safeguarding officers and psychotherapists, who also mentor and offer guidance to vulnerable students or those in need of greater pastoral support. The non-judgemental attitude of the MAC and pastoral teams mean our students trust us to make good decisions.
We have clear signposting for support and have a well-understood pathway to support guidance which is understood by all staff and students. We have a consistent behaviour policy that will not accept bullying or comments that are intolerant. This also supports our work with raising awareness of mental health issues.
A strong and growing ‘student voice’ which confidently discusses issues around mental health and wellbeing without stigma. This is overseen by SLT, so students have a direct communication with school leadership. Students are encouraged to take part in challenging progress time activities where behaviours and mental health are discussed with confidence and clarity.
Work is supported by ‘drop-down’ sessions lead by outside professionals and our MAC team on body-positivity, positive relationships and self-respect. The MAC team also bring in outside agencies to work with our most vulnerable or at-risk groups. This again is done without stigma or judgement. Our pastoral work was recognised as outstanding in our most recent OFSTED inspection.
Support that extends to staff too
Supporting mental health and wellbeing extends to staff too, who are trusted and encouraged to take subject and cultural development and welfare days.
We also participate in ‘Time to Talk’ mornings and have brought in massage and yoga sessions for staff to sign up to, should they choose.
Staff can also access support from our in-school psychotherapist, should they wish. We respect the professionalism of our staff and therefore give staff the trust and respect to work autonomously and with confidence.
Staff are encouraged to take subject and cultural development and welfare days
We have an open leadership team where conversations are encouraged and we have worked to cut out unnecessary meetings and emails, to help staff find a good work/life balance. We have a constructive and supportive appraisal process, which centres on open discussion and positive action planning with integrity. Our work on reducing marking has been incredibly successful, again allowing staff the time to focus on the core purpose of teaching and maintain a healthy balance.