Wellbeing & Mental Health
At St. Matthew’s C. of E. Primary School, we take the well-being and mental health of our children, families and staff very seriously. We understand the importance of knowing every child and their family, and we take the time to build good relationships which help the children to build emotional resilience and to manage setbacks. We believe that good mental health is essential in order for children to be in the right frame of mind to access learning. After all, we know that happy children learn best.
Through our school’s vision (taken from John 10:10) of ‘enabling our whole school community to live life in all its fullness,’ we help children to learn to respect one another and value diversity. We know that everyone experiences life challenges that can make us vulnerable and, at times, anyone may need additional emotional support. We take the view that positive mental health is everybody’s business and that we all have a role to play. We help to promote the children’s self-esteem so that they feel comfortable to share any worries or concerns.
Through our well-planned and organised teaching and learning, that builds year on year, the children have numerous opportunities to develop their social and emotional skills and this is aided by our dedicated PSHCE and RSE curricula. By the time the children leave us at the end of Year 6, they are able to recognise what is normal and what is an issue for themselves and others and, when issues arise, know how to seek support from the surrounding adults. We believe that our children benefit from their regular mindfulness sessions which are delivered by both their class teachers and a Relax Kids practitioner. The children and adults both benefit from these planned sessions which help everyone to feel more positive and resilient. We promote Children’s Mental Health Weeks in school and enhance our lessons with resources that are promoted by Place2Be. We fund a ‘Roundabout’ drama therapist one day a week who works with targeted pupils on more long term strategies and we have an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant in training who offers support to many children.
Each classroom has their own prayer corner or area and this provides an opportunity to promote emotional well-being and enables children of all faiths and none, to explore spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way. We also offer weekly prayer space where any child can come to the Prayer room and spend some quiet time over the lunch hour.
We are also an Attachment Aware School, an awards’ programme that we are very proud to have completed with our staff and children in 2021. Attachment is all about relationships, and how we think and understand relationships. A child's first attachment is vitally important. It provides a blueprint for how they understand, think about and behave within future relationships. In school, we endeavour to provide secure attachments, the idea that our children truly know and feel secure in the person taking care of them, and this is at the core of attachment theory. It is having someone that they trust and can rely on.
The AAS programme has supported us further in supporting children's mental health and well-being. Working in partnership with the children we have introduced emotion coaching through our zones of regulation which allow children to verbalise how they are feeling on the inside, and put their feelings into one of the four coloured zones.
The training also supported staff in how we talk to a child when they are feeling a certain way. We now approach a conversation using the CALM (Regulate, Relate and Reason approach) technique by Bruce Perry, which looks something like this -
We are currently taking apart in the Healthy Early Years London awards scheme which is funded by the Mayor of London. This scheme supports achievements in child health, well-being and development in early years’ settings. We are hoping to support our children and their families in reducing health inequalities by supporting education in healthy eating, oral and physical health and early cognitive development.
We offer regular forest school outdoor sessions over an extended period of time for all children in Reception, Year One, Year Three and Year Five as this helps children grow in confidence through healthy engagement with risk, problem-solving and self-discovery, and we are fortunate to have extensive grounds.
We have a staff well-being team that meet to discuss ways that we can support each other at work too. Positive staff well-being increases productivity and engagement, improves job satisfaction and helps reduce absence from work- and it means that staff are better able, in turn, to support our pupils.