A Welsh independent school has become the first in Wales to introduce the Restorative Approach in Schools (RAIS) programme, which focuses on improving mental wellbeing and mental health awareness in young people.
The programme launches at Kings Monkton School, Cardiff, on Blue Monday – the third Monday in January, which has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year. The move is part of the school’s wider initiative to support the mental health of young people in Wales.
The RAIS programme, provided exclusively in Wales by Wales Restorative Approaches Partnership (WRAP), will see Kings Monkton pupils aged 3 – 18 engage in group discussion and problem-solving activities throughout the academic year. Pupils will meet for weekly classroom circles, where they will take it turns to talk about their feelings, be they positive or negative, relating to school, or life outside it. The scheme is intended to boost their self-confidence and build peer-to-peer relationships.
The idea is to encourage young people to feel comfortable talking about their feelings, but also to build their self-confidence, resilience and working relationships with others
Additionally, a series of problem-solving activities will be introduced to pupils as part of the RAIS programme, and they will be encouraged to collaborate to identify answers and discover solutions. Such activities are designed to build pupils’ resilience to the academic pressures and life outside of school, and enhance their ability to work and communicate as a team.
Marie Sidoli, assistant head at Kings Monkton School, said: “As educators, we need to be proactive when approaching the topic of mental health at school. Around 10% of young people in the UK experience problems with their mental health or wellbeing, and yet there seems to be little focus on talking about that at school – particularly within the independent sector.
“We’ve always placed strong emphasis on pastoral care at Kings Monkton, but the RAIS programme will see specific time allocated throughout the year for student-led conversations and activities around mental health and wellbeing. The idea is to encourage young people to feel comfortable talking about their feelings, but also to build their self-confidence, resilience and working relationships with others.