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Is boarding good for pupils' wellbeing?

Deputy Head Pastoral, Andrea Saxel explains Cranleigh School's approach to mental health and pastoral care

Posted by Hannah Oakman | November 01, 2016 | Health & wellbeing

Pupils’ wellbeing is at the centre of all we do at Cranleigh; after all, how can a pupil possibly reach their potential (academic or otherwise) if they are not feeling at peace with who they are? Cranleigh is quite a unique boarding model with six very large boarding houses, occupied mainly by weekly boarders. Despite the fact that the houses are very large, the individual care is not diminished in any way. Regular pastoral meetings take place between all the staff involved in this area, meaning that everyone is kept in the loop (though sensitive information is treated as such) and therefore there is shared responsibility in supporting our pupils.

At Cranleigh we really don’t believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy and we tend to avoid using the latest ‘buzzwords’ in terms of pastoral care. Mindfulness and other theories all have their place, but we don’t think any single technique can act as a panacea for every mental wellbeing issue. Our PSHE programme includes things like mindfulness and meditation techniques, as well as sessions on managing stress. It also covers all the standard topics like mental health, eating issues, self-harm, etc, and we offer yoga as an activity. In addition, we are currently in the process of training every member of staff in Mental Health First Aid and this has proved invaluable in helping the pastoral staff support the pupils. We also have a counsellor who provides CBT as well as normal counselling services. 

However, many lower level issues can be managed though the house teams; often a good regular chat with Matron or the housemaster or housemistress is all that is needed for support, and they will work closely with parents in managing issues. 

The fact that we are mainly a weekly boarding school means that parents have a more regular opportunity to touch base with the house team, and, therefore, we can find the best approach together.

Andrea Saxel is Deputy Head Pastoral at Cranleigh School

W: www.cranleigh.org

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