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Mental Health & Well-being Vision
Good wellbeing and mental health are at the heart of the school’s vision for its pupils and students: To enable pupils to achieve their aspirations and become well-rounded, confident and compassionate individuals who go on to live a fulfilled life and make a positive contribution to society.
Our best hope for our pupils’ wellbeing and mental health: Pupils lead happy and healthy lives, thriving as individuals and making a positive contribution to society.
As such, our wellbeing and mental health work is one of the school’s key activities, underpinning character development, academic success and becoming a well-rounded person.
A video about our whole school approach at Beechen Cliff made by Boys in Mind (Girls Mind Too) can be found here.
The views and leadership of young people in the school have been crucial to developing our wellbeing and mental health strategy in recent years. Our Mental Health Strategy Team, chaired by the Deputy Headteacher, comprises Sixth Form students, pupils in the lower school, a range of teaching and support staff, parents and partner agencies. There is also a team of Sixth Form student wellbeing and mental health ambassadors led by a Senior Prefect with responsibility for Mental Health. You can read a report written by students in 2020 about our wellbeing and mental health work in the downloads section at the bottom of the page.
In addition, our students play an important part in organising and delivering our annual testimony assemblies, which promote talking about wellbeing and mental health, help break any stigma around wellbeing and mental health and also increases the number of students coming forward to seek support, which is a really positive thing.
We believe strongly that Mental Health and Equalities go hand in hand and were really pleased that our Mental Health and Equalities Prefects decided to make a film with Boys in Mind (Girls Mind Too) about the Equalities work going on at Beechen Cliff and the difference this makes to students and staff. This was launched in June 2022, which is available here.
Our Mental Health & Well-being Strategy
Our strategy for improving pupils’ and students’ wellbeing and mental health is complemented by a staff wellbeing and mental health team and links closely to our work on equalities and safeguarding (see Related Pages). The school also works closely with the local charity Boys in Mind (Girls Mind Too) , of which the school is a lead partner: Boys in Mind: Home.
Through a wide range of activities, the school continues to promote and develop its wellbeing and mental health provision, which was described as “remarkable” by Ofsted during our boarding inspection in March 2020. We believe is is an essential part of our offer and this was recognised in our 2023 Ofsted Inspection Report which stated:
“The school recognises the value of talk and the importance of developing pupils’ emotional literacy. Pupils are taught how to be a good friend when their peers need them. The curriculum is designed so that mental health themes are revisited regularly. All of this has led to a culture where pupils are confident to speak about their worries and know they will be supported.”
One recent initiative which began in July 2022 led to several Beechen Cliff pupils and students working with Boys in Mind (Girls Mind Too) to help produce some films, commissioned by the Charlie Waller Trust/ Charlie Watkins Foundation, about what adults do well to support young people. These were published in May 2023 along with a guide for parents, carers, teachers and any other adults who support, live with, or work with children and young people. The guide, which includes links to the videos is available here. A link to these videos is also available on the Boys in Mind (Girls Mind Too) website: available here. The hope is that they could be used at School Lead Mental Health training which all Local Authorities deliver to schools. This initiative also led to three Beechen Cliff students becoming youth ambassadors for Boys in Mind (Girls Mind Too).
The school’s goal for its wellbeing and mental health strategy is:
To create a culture of openness about wellbeing and mental health, encouraging everyone to talk about feelings, listen to one another and promote their ability to bring about change for the better.
The strategy has three broad aims:
- Creating a proactive positive wellbeing and mental health culture – placing a high priority on wellbeing and mental health as part of our vision for pupils and students and staff.
- Keeping mentally fit and healthy – developing pupils’ and students’ emotional literacy and teaching them how to be proactive about keeping mentally fit and healthy.
- Responding when things are difficult – ensuring pupils and students have somewhere to turn when they have a crisis, need some help or just want to talk.
A summary of our activities in pursuit of this strategy can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of this page. Our provision includes regular input for all students through the assembly programme and the tutor time programme, as well as involving visiting speakers and the PSHE curriculum.
Our Models of Practice
Our wellbeing and mental health strategy is underpinned by two models: Trauma-Informed Practice (TiP) and Solution Focused (SF) approach. TiP helps us recognise difficult experiences faced by young people and their adaptations to these; it promotes the power of relationships for healing and growth and is both a reactive and proactive approach to caring for wellbeing and mental health.
SF is a compassionate, empowering, hopeful and effective approach to support people to identify their own solutions to issues in their lives, whilst building on their existing strengths and resources. For more information on these approaches, please visit the links at the bottom of this page.
Our Mental Health Provision – All Staff
All staff in the school have received training on responding to concerns for pupils’ and students’ wellbeing and mental health as part of their safeguarding duties. If they are worried about a young person in the school, they will contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) who will take action to address the concern, involving parents and other staff as required. For more information on the school’s safeguarding measures, see Related Pages. Tutors and teachers have a crucial role in looking after their pupils and students through their everyday work with them; our aim is for every interaction to be a positive one.
A large number of staff have undergone either foundation or extended level training in Solution Focused (SF) Approaches. They are able to help pupils and students who would like someone to listen or help them think about how to address how they are feeling. Sometimes these conversations can be quick, at other times they can take longer. Trained staff wear special lanyards which are easily identifiable to the pupils and students. All members of the Senior Management Team, Heads of Year and the Safeguarding Team have had SF training.
Our Mental Health Provision – Specialist Staff
The PSHE team has a programme for teaching pupils and students about wellbeing and mental health through lessons and events. These are complemented by assemblies and campaigns such as ‘wear green for mental health’ day. The school has been running student-led wellbeing and mental health assemblies for the past few years with great success; the power of pupils and students talking to their peers has had a significant impact in the school, particularly on the boys and those who identify as LGBT+. This can be seen most easily by watching the video above.
Senior pastoral staff (the Safeguarding Team, Heads of Year and Pastoral Managers) have had training in a range of other tools and approaches to wellbeing and mental health, such as what to do if a young person is self-harming or showing signs of depression, and how to complete a referral to an external service such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS). They work closely with tutors to monitor pupils’ and students’ wellbeing and mental health and get involved to try to take action before things become difficult.
The school has service level agreements with three local organisations who provide in-house counselling support for pupils and students 4.5 days a week: Tara Gretton, of Solution Revolution, and Susie Ingram, of Solutions Inside, to provide Solution Focused therapy and Off the Record which provides counselling, talking therapy and listening support. Tara also trains staff and Sixth Form Mental Health student ambassadors and both Tara and Susie sit as advisers on the Mental Health Strategy Team. These partnerships enable us to provide support for pupils and students without referring them outside school. Tara and Susie also contribute to a weekly wellbeing and mental health article in the school newsletter to promote awareness of wellbeing and mental health amongst parents and the local community. Solution Focused ‘Coffee Mornings’ and parents evenings also take place to support parents in understanding Solution Focused Approaches.
If a young person requires urgent and/or acute medical support for their wellbeing and mental health, the school will work with them and their parents to refer to CAMHS or take advice from a GP or School Nurse.
Beechen Cliff PTA
Beechen Cliff PTA launched a crowdfunding appeal to help our school in various ways, one key area identified was in supporting wellbeing and mental health within the school.
The funding helped to support and grow our programme and we are very grateful for their support in the development of the provision we have in place now.
Mental Health and Covid-19
The school put in a place a specific strategy to respond to wellbeing and mental health needs during the Covid-19 pandemic. See downloads section below. In addition, the school submitted evidence to the Department for Education Select Committee inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on children’s services. You can read our submission in the downloads section. There has been a rise in the need for mental health support over the last few years with some of this linked to the impact of the pandemic and we are determined to provide the support required.
Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy
The wellbeing and mental health team meet each year to update the strategy based on the goals and aims referred to above and to create objectives and actions for the year ahead. In Sepetmber 2023 this included a review of the impact of the actions completed in the previous year as well as setting objectives for the year ahead. The Strategy is available in the downloads below.