A Worcestershire school has been recognised for offering outstanding mental health and wellbeing provision.
Malvern St James Girls’ School (MSJ) was given a gold standard School Mental Health Award by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools.
An “extremely proud” headmistress, Olivera Raraty, pronounced herself “delighted” at the recognition of her school’s pastoral care.
“Mental health programmes have come such a long way in schools in recent years and we are delighted to be at the forefront of this change, working with the Carnegie Centre of Excellence,” she said.
“This award also recognises the excellent way that staff and pupils support each other, day in, day out, to promote wellbeing.”
MSJ has introduced a number of programmes and activities to support pupils and staff, including offering ‘youth mental health first aid training’ to staff and sixth formers, establishing peer support structures, and delivering lessons on mindfulness and wellbeing.
Using the Girls on Board scheme, pupils are also taught how to engage in healthy friendships. The school uses its social media channels to signpost support via @msjbuzz, and in June organised a Virtual Festival of Wellbeing.
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“The positive mental health programme has given us useful tools and helped raise even greater awareness of the importance of wellbeing amongst pupils and staff,” added Raraty. “This has changed the language and the way in which we respond as a community to individual needs.
“We can see that this approach has had a palpable effect on the positive emotional and mental wellbeing of pupils and staff, never more so than during these past few months as we supported one another during the pandemic.”
The award was instigated four years ago by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – part of Leeds Beckett University – and social enterprise Minds Ahead.
The centre offers school leaders and educators a wide breadth of learning, from relatively short courses to master’s degrees.
“Achieving this award is not just recognition of a whole-school approach to mental health, it’s a recognition of the school’s commitment to improving the life chances of children,” said the Carnegie School of Education’s dean, Professor Damien Page.
Nationally, more than 900 schools have signed up to take part in the award.