Children’s Mental Health Week took place from 6-12 February 2023. The theme this year was Let’s Connect and we encouraged people to make healthy, rewarding, and meaningful connections.
This website is provided by the NHS and offers advice: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/supporting-others/childrens-mental-health/
This leaflet: You’re never too young to talk mental health provides parents and carers tips for discussing mental health with your own child.
At Thornaby Church of England Primary School we believe that every child is extraordinary, and that education has the capacity and the possibility to change lives for the better. Here, teaching and learning is built upon a foundation that is inclusive, supportive, challenging and empowering. We promote high expectations, aspirations and an intense engagement in learning. This supports learners in establishing the values, attitudes, skills and knowledge through which they will be able to achieve success, gain fulfillment in the future and become life-long learners.
Children have special educational needs if they have a need that presents a barrier for learning, this may be academic, social or emotional and which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.
Teachers are responsible and accountable for all the children in their classes and provide High Quality teaching, including effective differentiation, by planning lessons that consider all needs and remove barriers so every pupil can achieve.
However, for some pupils, accessing the curriculum within a mainstream setting can be a challenge and a barrier to learning in itself. This may be because of a learning, emotional and/or social or medical need.
Research has shown that the way we behave is linked to how we feel and our emotions are linked to how we learn. By teaching children to recognise and notice these feelings and emotions it can help with their development and learning. Children sometimes need some extra support with their emotional growth and this can be temporary or over a longer period of time.
Levels of support
At Thornaby C of E, we work as a team to provide exceptional pastoral care that is based on the individual needs of the children. We constantly reassess the support we provide to ensure we are helping children to develop socially, emotionally and academically. We work alongside families to ensure a comprehensive approach to supporting each child and this input from families is both essential and invaluable.
Pupils at Thornaby are supported through a variety of interventions and in a variety of ways. Through:
• Identifying individual needs through classroom assessments, Building Blocks assessment and pupil observation. Classroom support; working alongside their teacher, a teaching assistant and / or their peers.
• Support with social and emotional issues that can be accessed through Drawing Therapy and other Nurturing principles using a more structured and personalised approach with time both in and out of the classroom (in a quiet, calm space) with Mr Perks our Pastoral Lead or Mrs Wilshaw HLTA
• Daily focussed and regular interventions to support difficulties pupils may be experiencing. (This may also include personalised Nurturing Activities, a personalised timetable and some alternative provision)
Mental Health and Well-being provision for every child
At Thornaby C of E we are proud to use a Nurturing Approach to support emotional and social development. This can include whole class activities, group sessions and also interventions for individuals. There is a recognised link between children’s sense of wellbeing and their success as learners. Nurture support is not limited to specific individuals or groups, as we embed nurturing principles and practice at a whole school level, providing appropriate support for all pupils attending our school. We facilitate this using a variety of approaches, strategies and various intervention throughout our school. Our aim is to develop their social skills and understand their emotional needs. This promotes positive mental health and enables many children to be successful in their academic learning.
Some of the difficulties these children may have include:
• Regularly getting into trouble at playtime.
• Finding it hard to settle into the classroom routine/structure.
• Finding it difficult to manage their strong feelings.
• Not always remembering / knowing who to turn to when feelings are too big to manage on their own.
• Family illness or break-up
• Friendship difficulties – keeping/making friends
• Quiet, shy, withdrawn
• Find it hard to listen to others or join in
• Disrupting own and other’s learning
• Find it hard to accept losing a game
• Find it hard to share and take turns
• Find it a bit tricky to focus and settle in class
• Low self esteem
• Poor relationships both in & out of school
These situations can lead to many different feelings, which can feel overwhelming at times. They might include: anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, confusion or anxiety. All these feelings are very normal and are felt by many children.
Nurture sessions for individuals or small groups
Our Nurture approach offers practical strategies and techniques. It promotes children’s emotional and social growth by building positive relationships between a child and their peers and helps them explore and understand their feelings through various activities.
The session may be on an individual basis or as part of a small group of children. During each session there will be an activity which may include:
• Story telling
• Circle games
• Arts and crafts
• Sand play
• Movement and relaxation
• Hand and foot massage
• Cooking and preparing food
• Role play and puppet work
Individual pupil profiles are undertaken by school staff and parents / carers who work together in order to identify the area of need. An action plan of activities to support pupil development is created and a series of activities and interventions are put in place. At the end of approximately 6 weeks, pupils are re-assessed, progress discussed, and a new action plan created.
The Purpose and the Philosophy
The purpose of using a Nurturing approach is to offer children opportunities to re-visit early learning skills and promote and support their social and emotional development. There is much research evidence that children’s learning is most effective when they have a sense of emotional well- being, good self -esteem and a feeling of belonging to their school community. A designated quiet and safe space to work in provides children with this opportunity and so helps to develop their maturity and resilience. This is a place of safety, positivity and a place of learning.
The Main Principles:
• Children’s learning is understood and assessed developmentally
• All behaviour is communication
• Recognises the importance of transition in children’s lives
• Provides lots of opportunities for speaking and listening activities
• Builds a child’s self-esteem, confidence and well-being
• Builds skills for classroom learning
• Language is a vital means of communication
How will being part of Nurture activities and principles help my child?
These sessions are meant to help them manage situations and increase their skills to become more successful learners. Consequently, improving their mental health and well-being.
• The main aims are to boost confidence and self- esteem and provide children with the extra help they sometimes need to improve social skills and independence for example:
• To join in
• To settle
• To listen
• To concentrate & focus on their learning
• To share and take turns
• ·To accept losing a game
• To build up friendships with their classmates
• It gives them a chance and helps to encourage a more positive profile among their peers and members of staff.
Each child’s needs differ from their peers. Children will continue with extra support / intervention for up to a half term before re-assessment and then further discussion and planning will take place. However, all of our children remain an integral member of their mainstream class and we ensure that where possible they do not miss break times, lunch with their class, some PE sessions, some assemblies, guests in school, outings or anything else that may be different from the normal routine of the week.
Stockton Borough Council’s local offer includes information and advice for parents and carers as well as activities using the ‘Thrive Approach’ which is based upon Nurturing principles and supports social and emotional development.