25th May 2018
Dear Parents and carers,
Emotional wellbeing is at the heart of what we do at Pool Academy. Of course we all want your children to achieve success, but if they are not emotionally ready to learn then the learning bit is really hard for them to achieve. And, in some cases, helping them manage their feelings is necessary.
There are three distinct areas young people struggle with, which impact on their wellbeing:
Low aspirations and / or self-esteem
Friendship and / or bullying difficulties
Emotional and / or mental health difficulties
These strands are more often than not interconnected.
With the recent nationwide focus on youth mental health, the government have ventured that schools are in a prime position to give support to those struggling with their emotional wellbeing. In 2019 they will set aside £215 million to help schools develop their mental health capacity. At Pool Academy, we are highly motivated to see how we can develop our own provision given this financial support, as historically schools have been left to manage unfunded. However, we don’t need to wait. We already have many strategies and provisions which are intended to help our community feel ready to learn.
We are currently supported by Headstart Kernow to build on our Thrive knowledge and become a Trauma Informed School (TIS). We are using this understanding, and the accompanying funding to build our capacity for supporting wellbeing.
From May half term our form tutors will use ‘Motional’ - a wellbeing assessment tool sponsored by Headstart Kernow – every half term to assess their tutor groups wellbeing, and highlight those who are currently finding things difficult. Once identified, we have a broad resource bank, with individually targeted support plans so the young people can receive the help they need. This tool will also help us check that things are getting better, and change the support package if not.
Our new anti-bullying charter is in place, created in collaboration with the Student Leadership Team. Here are just some of the adopted ideas.
They have made one of the toilet areas open to just Year 7 and 8. This simple solution has already helped many of our young people feel more secure about taking a comfort break.
They are creating a space for students to go at break and lunchtime and receive support from our elected anti-bullying ambassadors.
‘If you see it, report it’ is being adopted as our anti-bullying mantra. Staff and the ambassadors cannot help if we don’t know.
From September Pool Academy will be working with Franklin Scholars to help develop our older students Peer Mentoring skills. Year 10 will provide support for our more vulnerable Year 7s throughout the year, while at the same time helping them with their literacy and / or numeracy. This national strategy is very effective at providing both emotional support and personal development.
Our mentors will also work alongside our Pastoral Support Managers to provide restorative justice for those who have been targeted. This will be managed by our Heads of House, and will include restorative conversations between students and staff.
Furthermore, we have created a quiet ‘Space’ for those in KS4 who are profoundly anxious about coming to school, and for medical reasons cannot face the mainstream classroom. Here they receive support from one of our most experienced Learning Facilitators, and are able to work on their classwork, and gain feedback. This facility has already had a visible impact on the attendance of this vulnerable group.
Additionally, we are increasing our therapeutic capacity, with staff being trained in yogic and mindfulness techniques to help our students navigate particularly tricky times in their day. There is an abundance of statistical evidence that these softer approaches have major impact.
We are also working hard to ensure our students literacy and numeracy skills are improved so they feel better about themselves and their learning. Pool Academy accepts students with a really broad ability range. Our Heads of Department are working together to create a really robust cross curricular literacy policy to help these young people feel successful. We are also working to ensure teachers have the skills they need to plan for these needs.
All this alongside more established provisions provided by the Student Services Team, our Heads of House and our Pastoral Support Managers.
When we think of emotional wellbeing, many of us imagine the most challenging of situations. However, there are multiple reasons that can lead to a young person experiencing difficulties. An absent parent. An impending divorce. Bereavement. Low levels of literacy. Friendship difficulties. Financial worries at home. Etc. There be no stigma around opening an honest, non-judgemental discussion with us about why your child may be struggling. When we start to communicate honestly, we are beginning to help our young people most effectively.
If you think your child is having difficulties with their wellbeing, please let us know. In the first instance this can be the Form Tutor, or Head of Year. For more serious concerns contact our Safeguarding Team. Information about the Safeguarding Team, and other local support groups can be found here. Please keep them somewhere handy.
Rachel Facey- firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Head for Wellbeing and Additional Educational Needs