At St. Paul’s, we believe that supporting your child’s happiness and well-being is central to our roles as teachers, now more than ever.
In September 2020, we introduced some new initiatives to help alleviate the emotional impact that children may have experienced during the global pandemic, to ensure that all of our pupils feel as safe, happy and motivated to be in the St. Paul’s learning environment as possible.
Weekly Well-being Check-in
On a weekly basis, each class completes a ‘Well-being Check-in’ worksheet. This enables children to develop the skill of recognising their own emotions, and importantly, to allow their teachers to identify ways in which to support them. We believe that having conversations and validating emotions is crucial in supporting pupils' mental and emotional wellbeing.
For Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, this check-in is conducted by each child placing their post-it-note onto the face they feel a connection with. For the anonymity of pupils, their names are written on the sticky strip on the back of each note. Class teachers and LSAs run circle time discussions, focusing on the emotions that a pupil might have felt during the week; exploring why they may have experienced these feelings, and what they could do because of them.
In Years 3, 4, 5 and 6, the check-in is conducted through a written approach. At the start of the academic year, all KS2 pupils may bring in their own folder to leave in their trays, as a safe space to store their Well-being Check-in worksheets.
Additional and Ongoing Support
All LSAs across the school conduct a weekly 10-minute mindfulness session, in which they deliver a range of activities including guided meditations, breathing exercises, nature journals, and worksheets focusing on gratitude, happiness, and resilience.
Each classroom also has a Worry Box, which provides pupils with a safe space to share a worry. Class teachers are then able to support the child in this area, or refer them to the Worry Room, which is run by a qualified ELSA specialist.
ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)
“The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) intervention was originally developed… by Sheila Burton, Educational Psychologist. It was designed to build the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of their pupils from within their own resources. This is achieved by training teaching assistants to develop and deliver individualised support programmes to meet the emotional needs of children and teenagers in their care. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.” (https://www.elsanetwork.org/about/)
Our fully-qualified ELSAs are trained to plan and deliver support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer-term additional emotional needs. These sessions are largely delivered on an individual basis, however on occasion, and when the focus is on building social and friendship skills, they can take place in small groups. We are proud to have full-time ELSA support on site, available to children in all Key Stages.
The Wellbeing Team
The combination of school-wide (such as HelloYellow and Children’s Mental Health Week fundraising campaigns), whole class (PSHE lessons, circle time, weekly check-ins), and individual strategies (ELSA programme, teacher and pupil relationships), is run by The Well-being Team. This whole-school approach allows us to navigate the best support we can offer pupils who may be struggling with their emotions.
Resources to Support at Home:
Age-appropriate Growth Mindset reading list: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:299fee38-62f9-428e-b3bd-b5a70c2739ba
Big Life Journal: https://biglifejournal.com/
Positive Psychology: https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/
Cosmic Kids Yoga: https://www.cosmickids.com/category/watch/
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families: https://www.annafreud.org/