At Old Ford Primary Academy we believe positive mental health and wellbeing is key to successful learning.
We know that everyone faces pressures which can affect their wellbeing and so we work hard to support the mental health of staff and pupils, raise awareness of mental health issues and overcome stigma in our local community.
We train all our teachers and support staff so they are able to understand, identify and respond to the emotional needs of our pupils. This includes laying the groundwork for managing anxiety in the classroom, a practice which came into its own when welcoming pupils back to school after the long Covid lockdown.
Another way in which we are supporting our pupils’ health and wellbeing is through the Skill Zone programme. We have developed it to allow the children to explore choices and consequences, emotional intelligence, managing authority, equality, bullying and making a positive contribution. It also gives them the language to express themselves and provides a safe space where they can talk about things they would not get a chance to at other times of the school day.
It goes without saying that every child is different, and has different ways of learning and expressing themselves, so the exact way in which we support pupils varies depending on their age, needs and preferences. Learning mentors are employed to give extra support for pupils with additional emotional needs, and we have also enlisted external specialist services such as the Tower Hamlets Education Wellbeing Service to support our most vulnerable pupils and families with complex needs.
There is no doubt the importance of mental health has been pushed into the spotlight by the coronavirus pandemic. However, even outside the current circumstances, we know to achieve sustained success it is essential to have a school that is healthy and balanced for us all, and achieving this will remain top of our priorities.