Effective Mental Health and Pastoral Care in Schools

Friday 4th October 2024

Session content

Descriptions of the main themes and topics that our speakers intend to cover in their sessions are outlined below to assist you in gaining a strong overview of the conference and to help you choose the workshop sessions that best suit your needs and areas of interest:

Headteacher, Everton Free School in Liverpool & co-author of A School Without Sanctions
MICK SIMPSON: Headteacher, Olsen House School, Liverpool & co-author of A School Without Sanctions
Non-confrontational approaches to promote wellbeing and learning

In this presentation, two experienced school leaders and the authors of A School Without Sanctions will take us on a whistlestop tour of some of the key concepts that underpin the approaches that have proved so successful in their settings. Mick Simpson is the head of Olsen House, an autism and SEMH specialist school, while Steven Baker OBE is CEO of The People’s Learning Trust and has led numerous mainstream, SEMH and AP provisions. They both have a successful track record in supporting vulnerable young people and have advised the Department for Education, Crown Prosecution Service and Ministry of Justice. The session will focus on non-confrontational approaches that foster student wellbeing and learning and improve behaviour. They will touch upon trauma-informed practice in practical terms as well as how what we know about brain development can inform our work to support students' behaviour. They will discuss the role of shame and guilt in student behaviour and how and why punishment systems in school can often make things worse. Ultimately, they will draw on their experience to offer a range of practical ideas for how our pastoral support systems can really work for our most vulnerable and challenging young people

BEN EASON: Deputy Headteacher & Designated Safeguarding Lead, Rainham School for Girls, Kent; Regional Lead for ACE Ambition Tutor Programme for The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT)
Mental health and pastoral care: A whole-school case study

This workshop will dissect the range of pastoral and student wellbeing approaches and interventions in place at Rainham School for Girls, focusing on practical advice, lessons learned, and tips for other schools. The workshop will touch upon supporting disadvantaged students and those living in poverty, how the school spots and supports students with social, emotional and mental health needs, and its work to support other vulnerable children. Particular focuses will include the school's successful nurture provision as well as the ACE pastoral tutoring programme.

PETER RADFORD: Founder, Beyond This
Why we need bendy schools & how you can create them

We often bend the rules for our most vulnerable students, yet 'bending the rules' is commonly seen as poor practice in schools – it is seen as unfair. In this workshop, Peter Radford will discuss how we too often sanction the behaviour and ignore the reasons behind the behaviour. He will set out his fairer approach: bendy schools. These are schools where we create and appropriate bendy rules which prioritise the pastoral, wellbeing and learning needs of our students. At the heart of this approach are six psychological needs that must be met if vulnerable students are to stand a chance of being ready to learn. He will also describe his Students' Dozen – 13 practical elements that every school must have in place if their students are to feel and perform well.

WORKSHOP 1C PRIMARY HILARY PRIEST: Headteacher, The Grove Primary School, Totnes
Creating a mental health haven: A roadmap for schools

This workshop will describe the range of approaches to promote the good mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff at The Grove Primary School in Devon. Headteacher of nearly 17 years, Hilary Priest, will discuss the school's early help approach for mental health, including their focus on addressing rising levels of anxiety post-Covid. We will hear about how wellbeing is built into the curriculum and learning, including through assemblies, and how teachers are supported to spot the signs of pupils who may be struggling and know what steps to take when they do. We will discuss the work of the whole school staff to support all children pastorally and their new partnership with CAMHS to deliver Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Hilary will outline other initiatives including the school's professional chef via the Chefs in Schools charity initiative (improving school food also has a powerful impact on wellbeing and mental health), embracing nature and the outdoor programme of activities, cross-generational work, a growing and cooking life skills programme and more. Hilary believes strongly in the ethos of happy staff = happy children = great school and we will hear how they go above and beyond to look after their teachers and support staff. Hilary will aim to work with colleagues in this workshop to help plan your personalised, context-driven next steps for mental health and wellbeing, identifying priorities, resources and ideas.

ADAM LANCASTER: Designated Safeguarding Lead, Monk's Walk School, Welwyn Garden City
Monk’s Walk Continuum of Needs

One of the biggest challenges for school staff when it comes to safeguarding and pupil wellbeing is spotting the signs when something is not quite right and putting in the right support in a timely manner. At Monk's Walk School this challenge has been met through the use of the Monk’s Walk Continuum of Needs. The continuum is used as a 'cheat sheet' for all of our heads of year to assess where a student sits across four tiers of need and the type of support that is available to them. All pastoral staff receive training in using the Continuum and there is wider training for general school staff as well. The model has allowed the school to highlight areas where resources and capacity needed to be developed, leading to for instance an improved mentoring offer for students, counselling services and training of staff in a 'mindful' mentor scheme. The Continuum has ultimately led to a fully rounded offer for students covering all their needs, especially in terms of mental health. In this workshop, the school's DSL Adam Lancaster will explain how the Continuum works in practice, how it has been implemented, the challenges encountered and overcome and how other schools might adopt a similar approach. Time permitting, the workshop will also touch upon the school's Read Well project, which works with parents to support students with poor mental health.

KATE ANSTEY: Head of Education Policy, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
Poverty, disadvantage and mental health

With more than 4.3 million children in the UK growing up in poverty and many more families struggling with the cost of living, the role that disadvantage has in driving poor mental health and wellbeing cannot be ignored. Child Poverty Action Group works with pupils, families, schools and the wider education sector to understand the impact of poverty on school life, and what can be done to address this. Evaluation of this work has found 'a demonstrable impact on the wellbeing of children and families' as well as reductions in the costs of schooling among other positive outcomes. This session for primary and secondary colleagues will consider the links between poverty, stigma, mental health, and education and practical ideas and approaches for ways in which schools can help to address these growing issues. Delegates will also hear about recent findings from the latest youth participation phase of the programme, which is seeking to empower pupils to drive change in their own schools and beyond.

WORKSHOP 2C: PRIMARYNICOLA GOUGH: Senior Learning Mentor & Thrive Approach Lead at Hunters Hall Primary School, Dagenham
KATIE PARKS: Thrive Lead and School Counsellor at Rose Lane Primary, Romford
Putting relationships at the heart of your primary school: A tale of two schools

In this workshop for our primary colleagues, we will hear about the work of two schools to put relationships at the heart of their communities, ensuring that adults are emotionally available for children and with a specific focus on the language used to describe behaviour and wellbeing. Hunters Hall Primary School and Rose Lane Primary both adopt the Thrive trauma-informed, whole school approach to pupil wellbeing and are both Thrive School's of Excellence. In this session, we will hear how the schools have gone about putting relationships at the centre of pupil wellbeing – what this looks like in practice in the classroom and corridors, lessons learned along the way, and advice for other schools. We will discuss school staff can begin building these relationships with pupils (and families) and delegates will get to experience some of the activities the school have used successfully with pupils. The session will also offer an opportunity to experience using Thrive's relational stance to explore the emotional landscape of our children, staff and communities.

JULIE NORMAN: Leadership and School Effectiveness Advisor, Devon County Council and Director of School Omega
Is your pastoral work being undone in the classroom?

Many schools have excellent pastoral provision in place for their students – but is this great work being undone in the classroom in the way we deliver the curriculum and present learning to children? In this session, experienced school leader Julie Norman will discuss how schools must marry together their pastoral work with their approaches to teaching and learning. Julie will take a practical look at how we can deliver the curriculum through the lens of wellbeing – how we can make learning purposeful and engaging, how we can foster and boost students' intrinsic motivation, how we can develop and refine students' capacity for metacognition and self-regulation, and more. In her role as a school advisor, Julie – a former school leader – visits schools across her region and will draw on the great practice she sees week-in, week-out to offer practical approaches and ideas.

JAYNE ELLEN CURD: Senior Leader (Behaviour) at Meridian High School, Croydon
A six-year wellbeing journey

Meridian High School in Croydon is situated in an area of high deprivation with 68% of students being Pupil Premium and 30% with SEND – meaning the mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by its young people are significant. In this workshop, Jayne Ellen Curd, the school's senior leader for behaviour will discuss their six-year mental health and wellbeing journey. At the centre of this work was the adoption of the Thrive trauma-informed, whole school approach to pupil wellbeing and the work the school has done to create a calmer learning environment for vulnerable students. The school considers all behaviour to be a form of communication – and we know that behaviour can so often mask mental health difficulties. We will discuss what this approach looks like in practice, day to day. We will discuss, too, how the language staff use plays a vital role in supporting wellbeing and you will find out about the school's SEMH provision and programmes.

L: Founder, Pastoral Support in Education
PSHCE & Digital Wellbeing

In this workshop, experienced pastoral leader, researcher and advanced skills teacher Maria O'Neill will outline a range of practical strategies to help schools deliver effective PSHCE and digital wellbeing education. Maria, the author of Proactive Pastoral Care: Nurturing happy, healthy, and successful learners will consider how PSHCE education has evolved in recent years to tackle new and emerging challenges and threats to the wellbeing of children and young people. She will focus on the key topics, best practice, and how to design the PSHCE curriculum to explicitly reveal to pupils how and why these topics and issues are connected - something high of Ofsted's agenda. Maria will also use the session to discuss digital wellbeing in more detail and introduce a practical four-dimensional model of digital wellbeing that can be adopted by schools.

RAHAT MALIK: Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Avenue House Preparatory School, London
Protecting staff and pupil wellbeing – techniques, examples and ideas

The research is clear that whole-school approaches to promoting good wellbeing can improve outcomes across the board for pupils, including academic attainment, and that how these are implemented is a crucial factor in their effectiveness. In this workshop we will delve into the wellbeing work at Avenue House Preparatory School in London, looking at approaches to support both staff and pupil wellbeing. The school's head of mental health and wellbeing Rahat Malik will discuss what we mean by wellbeing in the context of our schools and the links between staff and pupil wellbeing. She will describe a number of good practice examples, including how the school uses pupil voice, and techniques such as Mood Diaries, The Tangled Ball, Wellbeing Bingo, the Feelings Chart and Mindfulness. We will find out how the school has built a culture of wellbeing and discuss the importance of mental health and wellbeing vocabulary. The workshop will also explain the schools Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy and describe how the theory is put into practice.

LIZ HEBB: English teacher & Head of Year 12, Beaumont School, Hertfordshire
Periods and wellbeing: Breaking down taboos, preventing absence, and supporting mental health

Research for the #freeperiods campaign reveals that more than half of girls aged 13 to 18 have missed school because of their period, missing an average of three days a term. Of these, one in 14 said their absence was due to "period poverty" – not being able to afford or access sanitary products. Furthermore, national figures show that PMT and period-related symptoms, including cramps, excessive bleeding and migraines are the largest cause for girls' absence from school. In this workshop, Liz Hebb will discuss our work as schools to address period poverty and to support girls through their menstrual cycle. The workshop will focus on how we can treat PMT and menstruation as additional needs because of the impact on girls' learning, including fatigue, irritability, and difficulty focusing. Liz will discuss strategies to support our students both in terms of wellbeing and academic success. She will also explore how we can talk about periods and PMT with teens and how to get over the taboo that the subject still suffers under. She will also discuss how schools can better handle the issue of using toilets during lessons.

SHAHANA KNIGHT: Founder, TPC Therapy
Therapeutic schools: Quick wins and lessons learned

Shahana Knight's therapeutic schools approach transforms the classroom environment and helps schools to become therapeutic in their approaches to teaching and learning, including putting pupil wellbeing high on the agenda, embracing trauma-informed and attachment-aware practices, and making sure pupils feel the belong in their primary school classroom. Her work has been featured regularly in Headteacher Update and in this workshop Shahana will be drawing out some of the quick wins and lessons learned from dozens of school makeovers and transformations that she has carried out over the last few years. Shahana will look at how small and inexpensive tweaks to the classroom environment can help to boost pupil wellbeing and mental health while also supporting good behaviour, pastoral care and cohesion among pupils. Shahana will also discuss what pupils have told her are the biggest barriers to wellbeing in the classroom and what they want to see in order to feel more comfortable, happier and motivated with their learning.