Here at Firs Primary School we believe the emotional and mental health of our children is imperative. Therefore, this page is dedicated to the Wellbeing of our staff, pupils and community.
Our Wellbeing Team
Miss Taplin and Miss Thomson lead Wellbeing at Firs Primary School. Mr Dakin and Suzy Strange are our designated specialist professionals who work with the children. If you have any questions about Wellbeing, please contact school who can put you in touch with one of the Wellbeing Team. Look out for us around school as we are wearing a yellow landyard.
Trauma Informed School
At Firs we are passionate about improving learning, mental health and quality of life for our children, staff and families. Our aim is to become a trauma informed and mentally healthy place for all. A trauma informed school is one that is able to support children who suffer with trauma or mental health problems and whose troubled behaviour acts as a barrier to learning. We recongise that behaviour is a form of communication and we pride ourselves in being able to identify this and put support in place to support children and ensure they feel safe, valued and listened to. Evidence has shown that when children who have suffered several painful life experiences, are unhelped, there is a very high chance of them going on to suffer severe mental and physical ill-health.
This meaning that we aim to help children BEFORE they get mental health problems – to catch them as they are falling not after they have fallen. Towards this aim we strongly endorse the statement in the Government Green Paper December 2017 Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, “ There is evidence that appropriately-trained and supported staff such as teachers, school nurses, counsellors, and teaching assistants can achieve results comparable to those achieved by trained therapists in delivering a number of interventions addressing mild to moderate mental health problems (such as anxiety, conduct disorder, substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder)”.
Our objective is to bring about a whole school cultural shift where the wellbeing of all is the highest priority, implementing many strategies to ensure the relational and emotional health of all. We also believe that for our school to become a mentally healthy place for all, the value of wellbeing has to start at the very top and this is why it continues to be a school priority.
At Firs Primary School, every class takes part in a morning routine each day. Our morning routine consists of;
Our morning routine is vital as it matches the key concepts to help improve children’s mental health. Our morning greeting and sharing the day ahead meets a sense of safety for our children to reduce anxiety and worries. Taking part in happy breathing activities allows a sense of calm. Allowing the children to complete a unite activity alongside the class enables children to feel socially connected and our feeling check ins promotes hope in children as Staff are taking the time to listen and value the children.
At the Firs, we recongise that sometimes children are not ready to learn for a multiple of reasons. Children may need time to regulate themselves before being able to access learning. In every classroom we have a regulation station for children to use when they are feeling dysregulated emotions. The focus in this area is on the healing of the child’s hurt. An adult can guide the child through some disengaging stress techniques (for example breathing routine) at this time. Or the child can do this independently. Children learn to manage their own upset and then re-engage in the day.
It is a safe space for the children to reflect, calm and regulate their emotions with the help and support of adults.
This may be something parents/carers may want to try at home. Try putting a cushion in a nice, quiet part of your home alongside books and fidget toys. Remember it is not used as a consequence but as a support tool to help children regulate their emotions with your help. If you would like further information on this, please ask your child's class teacher.
Here at Firs Primary School, we understand the power of our conversations when children are displaying behaviour as a form of communication. Our staff are skillfully trained to use reflection language when taking part in conversations with our children.
NOTICE- WONDER- ACCEPT- EMPATHY
“Notice” -Say it out loud- Noticing out loud what we see in children will help them to feel noticed, understood and cared for. “I can see/hear that you’re feeling…”. You can also describe what is happening and how they might be feeling. This lets the child know that you are seeing them, trying to understand them and acknowledging how they feel.
“Wonder”- Be Curious. Curiosity leads to self-awareness in children and self-awareness leads to self-control. Guess tentatively what might be going on for the child using “I’m wondering if…” and “Help me to understand what’s happening right now”. Don’t be afraid to admit that you got it wrong- the child will let you know! But it’s better to have a stab at it.
Also don’t always expect confirmation from the child that you’ve got it right. They might not be able to let you know that- but they will still have heard you understanding them out loud.
“Accept”- Children need to experience their feelings being accepted to build trust and to help them feel understood. We can show acceptance for a feeling without agreeing with it. It’s important for ALL feelings to be accepted- just not all behaviours! Communicate this with empathy- put yourself in their shoes…. “Oh ok, I understand now, so you were feeling really angry cause Jack called you names so that’s why you hit him.”
“Empathy” -Look at being not just saying- Listen with all our senses to what their behaviour is telling us- the body doesn’t lie- look beyond what they might be presenting on the surface. It’s also important that we respond using all our senses too- empathy is not just words, empathy is something that comes from the heart and is felt by heart. Think about communicating ‘heart to heart’ as opposed to just speaking empty words.
In school we have a Play Therapist, Suzy Strange who works over 3 days. Her role is to help children make sense of muddled feelings and to process any difficult or distressing events that may be affecting them at school or at home.
Rather than having to explain what is troubling them using words, as adult therapy usually expects, children use their natural form of communication, that is to play, in order to express themselves. As the therapy is child-led, they work at their own level and at their own pace, which may be different for every child. The use of play creates a safe space for children to communicate their thoughts and feelings without feeling interrogated or threatened. The therapy itself is grounded in theories of attachment, psycho-social development and uses a trauma-informed approach.
Play Therapy helps children in a variety of ways. Our therapist creates a safe, accepting and permissive space so that children can begin to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts, whilst simultaneously receiving the emotional support that is needed to guide them through this difficult process. The therapeutic relationship between the therapist and child is an essential part of the therapy as it provides a supportive and trusting connection through which children can start to build more positive relationships with themselves and with others.
Here at Firs we provide our children with whole school celebrations to promote children's mental health and wellbeing. We have participated in a range of activities such as:
As part of our Curriculum offer we have introduced Commando Joe’s where lessons have been transformed into Missions, and now no mission is impossible across school! Resilience is key and is taught to our children across all year groups. Strategies to self-regulate are taught in the face of adversity and mistakes are taught to be lessons rather than disappointments.
Pens and pencils have been made redundant in these lessons as the children venture through their missions using cargo nets, barrels and a host of other equipment. The children embark upon inspirational journeys of explorers such as Ed Stafford, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and many more. Working in teams, the children must use their creativity and problem-solving skills to complete a series of missions, putting their character to the ultimate test. Will teams work well together? What behaviour traits have been tested: Resilience, Empathy, Self-Awareness, Positivity, Excellence, Communication, Teamwork.
It is this enhanced self-awareness and understanding of others that is embraced and enhances emotional intelligence. Children have the opportunity to reflect upon their learning, referencing back to their ‘Mission Brief’, making personal judgements on the character traits they have displayed, what improvements they could make next time and how they felt during their learning.
We recognise that some children find unstructured times extremely difficult and one of these times may be playtimes and lunchtimes. We have provided our Midday Assistants with training on how to support children. They are aware of our Regulation Policy and the use of our Regulation Stations and know how to offer these safe spaces if required. They have been supported through training of conversations and strategies to support the children to regulate themselves.
We have employed sports coaches to engage children in sports. We have also provided a range of equipment for the children to engage with. Together we think of weekly ring games to build relationships between the children and the Midday Assistants.
Our children have the opportunity to check in over lunchtimes in our drop-in sessions with our Play Therapist to discuss any worries or concerns. These slots are optional and are solution focused providing children with strategies and suggestions to help them to problem solve independently.
The governing body have a vital role to play when it comes to pupil and staff emotional and mental wellbeing. At the Firs, we have a named governor (Mrs Reynolds) who maintains focus on the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff. Mrs Reynolds has a key role to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of all is paramount. Updates are also given to governors through board meetings and newsletters. Having a named governor, demonstrates the importance of health and wellbeing being a priority of Firs Primary School. By signing the commitment statement, this provides emphasis on the importance of establishing robust mental health provisions in school for staff and pupils by providing equal opportunities, building resilience and developing tools and support strategies.