With half term upon us, I have been reading and reflecting on well – being. There is plenty to read; lots of articles in the press and on social media about mental health in young people and in the teaching profession. It has made me think about how we will actively plan for and develop our own well-being as a new school community.
Healthy food and plenty of water are an important part of staying fit and well both mentally and physically. By having breakfast available for those who want to eat at school we can encourage everyone to start the day with the energy they need to work hard. I have had lots of positive feedback about everyone eating together at lunchtime. As well as being a way of building the community, it also provides a point in the day for staff and students to pause; to leave their classrooms or work rooms and take the time to eat properly. Food eaten “on the go” is not digested as well and therefore doesn’t give the nutrients and energy we need to stay healthy.
The building is full of natural light – if you have seen the recent photos you will get a sense of this. The photos don’t really do it justice; the design means that natural light floods in at all angles. There will also be plenty of opportunity for outside learning. We will make use of the courtyard, the garden behind school, the woodland area and the playing fields. This will enable staff and students to get plenty of fresh air and exercise. I know that I am happiest outside and there is research evidence which supports the link between mental well-being and being in the outdoors.
Personal tutor time will be a focus for our work on emotional health. This is 20 minutes every day, in smaller groups where students can talk to their tutor, share worries or concerns and then prepare themselves for a really successful day of learning. An effective tutor time will set the tone for the rest of the day and throughout the week there will be various activities to develop their personal and social skills. We will also have “Everyone a Reader” day where every single person in school stops, picks up a book and reads for tutor time. Again, this will enable staff and students to pause from the usual hustle and bustle of the day and immerse themselves into a book.
Our coaching culture will underpin everything we do and is a really effective way of developing listening skills. When students and staff are trained in coaching techniques they ask better questions and listen more deeply to what is being said. This supports emotional and mental well-being because it allows people to work through issues much more effectively and without fear of judgement. It creates a more open culture where people aren’t afraid to make mistakes and ask for help. “Failing forward” becomes a way of enabling future success and this removes pressure from people who worry about getting something wrong. In an educational climate of increasing pressure on students and staff, this is one way we can certainly support our community to remain mentally resilient and emotionally strong.
I like to lead by example and so I am spending this weekend catching up with my sister looking after my own well-being! It has been a very busy first 6 weeks and I am looking forward to having some time to relax and unwind with my family and friends. Whatever you are doing this half term, I hope you enjoy it.
Head of School