WHEN children returned to Summerseat Methodist Primary in September, following a long period of learning from home, leaders at the school decided that there needed to be a greater focus on the way that mental health and well-being support was incorporated into school life.

Fast forward six months and well-being has now become the heart of Summerseat’s ethos; offering strategies and experiences to promote positive mental health, well-being and resilience every single day.

Julie Whittaker, headteacher at Summerseat Methodist Primary School, said: “For me, positive mental health and well-being is absolutely vital for ensuring we nurture happy, confident and fulfilled children who are ready to learn.

“The pandemic really brought home the importance of ensuring that alongside nurturing the academic potential of our pupils, we must place equal focus on how they feel on a daily basis, so we set out to make sure that at every opportunity we were doing just that!”

Aptly entitled ‘Making Summerseat Smile’, the school has now adopted a simple whole-school approach featuring Five Ways to Well-being:

S - Stay connected; M - Move to keep active; I - Inspired to give; L - Look and take notice; E - Enjoy and keep learning

This has been complemented by a dedicated programme of classes and activities for pupils across each year group, underpinned by a ‘Growth Mindset’ approach to learning.

Starting with ‘Relax Kids’, a learning programme that uses research-based mindful and relaxation techniques alongside positive psychology to help support children’s emotional health and well-being, pupils have had the chance to take part in sessions offering seven steps to relaxation. ‘Reflect and Relax’ areas have also become a feature of every classroom, alongside jars of strength and worries to capture how pupils feel.

Last summer, the school also invested in a dedicated Forest School area on the school grounds offering additional opportunities for the children to learn through play, exploration and risk taking by experiencing the outdoors. The provision, which is now going from strength-to-strength, uses the natural setting to offer learner-inspired, hands on activities to support children to develop their confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

Other activities such as Children’s Mental Health Week, Express Yourself Days and a new programme called Calmaclass are just some examples of the integral role that mental health and well-being has to play in life at Summerseat Methodist Primary.

Mrs Whittaker added: “We are incredibly proud that our approach will help children to become resilient and give them the tools and techniques to manage their emotional and mental health throughout their lives.

“The introduction of Relax Kids and our Forest School area, in particular, have been a turning point for us, offering the opportunity for pupils to engage in specific well-being programmes and learning through the outdoors. It has just been incredible for them.

“We are also delighted that we have been able to offer additional practical advice and guidance to parents on how to support their children’s mental health and well-being, particularly whilst home learning at the start of this year.”