We were delighted to achieve the Wellbeing Award for Schools in November 2020. This was excellent recognition of what we already do, in relation to supporting and improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of our whole school community.
Strengths identified during verification:
Wicklea Academy offers a safe and nurturing environment for the children, staff, parents and the whole school community and needs to be praised for the work it has done in embedding positive structures and developing strong relationships that support mental health and wellbeing and enable children to learn, flourish and achieve their full potential.
A strength of the school is its whole school ethos and values culture, which the Headteacher and stakeholders across the trust have worked hard to develop and embed.
The leadership team, parents, staff and students endorsed the positive environment that has been created.
The leadership and management
- The wellbeing of all is the central principle of the school and the foundation on which all other developments are built upon.
- Leaders have a very clear vision of how to further develop the school’s provision to support emotional wellbeing and positive mental health. This is exemplified in the current strategy for this academic year and longer-term plans.
- Leaders model the standards expected within the school. All staff are treated with respect by the senior management.
- A real strength of the management has been to use staff strengths and skills. As can be seen with the appointment of Aidan Hazard as Wellbeing Lead.
- Parents recognise the work of the school in supporting both the children and the wider family. They value the approachability of all staff and feel confident in voicing any worries or concerns. Moreover, they know that any issues will be addressed straight away and followed up.
- Parents appreciate the focus on the personal development of their children, as well as being kept fully informed about their child’s academic achievement. They feel the school is a very welcoming and nurturing environment.
- They feel this is a school where their children can ‘feel safe and secure and empowered to find solutions.’
- A new family support worker has been hired to support home school links and mental health and wellbeing.
- Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, parents feel the school has been extremely supportive. Staff maintained regular contact with families throughout lockdown 1.
The staff work well together and are very supportive of one another. There is evidence of strong teamwork, such as the staff breakfast club on the first Friday of the month, which is used as a forum for bringing staff together. Staff regularly look out for each other and clearly care about each other’s wellbeing.
- There is an excellent insurance system in place called SAS (Schools Advisory Service) which supports staff wellbeing and mental health.
- Staff recognise the important role they have to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils and families.
- The school’s curriculum is used to enhance emotional wellbeing and promote mental health. With PHSE - Jigsaw, Circle Time and a strong emphasis on outdoor play and learning.
- A significant strength of the school is the work they have done to improve staff wellbeing and mental health. The senior leadership team need to be commended for their work in this area and raising the wellbeing capital of staff.
- The pupils thrive, with so many positive wellbeing practices – values displayed throughout the school, a beautiful values mural in the corridors, Circle Time, Pupil Voice, Wellbeing Champions, Positive Playground practices for lunchtimes, nurture support for vulnerable children, anxiety strategies, lego therapy, mindfulness club, yoga club, Jigsaw PHSE curriculum, self-esteem building activities, counselling and so much more.
- Pupils talked about the different strategies they have used to help them keep mentally healthy which included talking about their feelings. Pupils know that they can turn to adults in school but also their friends.
- Pupils clearly enjoy learning and during the tour of the school, there was clear evidence of strong relationships between staff and pupils.
- Pupils interviewed said that mental wellbeing was a priority of the school. They liked the worry boxes and random acts of kindness activity, which they said had had a definite positive impact on their wellbeing.
- They enjoy the wellbeing activities such as yoga, colouring, mindfulness club, Eco club.
- They appreciate and value the support of their teachers and school leaders and commented that they feel safe and secure.
- Staff relationships with students are excellent, they go the extra mile, meeting the needs of students emotionally and educationally.
- It was wonderful to meet such confident, polite and self-assured children.
As a result of the development of positive behaviours for learning and excellent relationship throughout the school community, behaviour is outstanding. Regular assessments are conducted in this area to ensure the wellbeing of all is maintained.
All have clearly worked hard on the award programme and the positive leadership behaviours need to be celebrated. The role and impact of Matthew Morgan, Hannah Reeve, Aidan Hazard, the leadership team, the change team, the staff and parents at Wicklea Academy, together with support of governors has been critical in the excellent results achieved.
This is a school that was previously in special measures and has been turned around by excellent leadership and positive wellbeing practices over the last three years.
The reflections shared were:
‘There has been massive change for the positive and systems are far more proactive.’
‘Staff care for our mental wellbeing. ‘
‘Everyone works together.’
‘We can go to the school counsellor or Mrs Reeve if we have a problem.’
‘All the teachers are very nice.’
‘There is an incredibly positive atmosphere here.’
‘It’s a joy to work here.’
‘There are very positive relationships throughout the school.’
‘The children are very happy, safe, secure and well mannered.’
‘Staff are better skilled at Mental Health and Wellbeing support.’
The award has highlighted how embedded wellbeing approaches are in the school.
Areas for development:
This is a school which shows excellent practice and has created an environment and ethos across the whole school effectively promoting good mental health and wellbeing.
The first area to consider is sustainability. Whilst the leadership team has a good plan for moving forward with wellbeing in 2020, we need to expect turbulence and change, and we would suggest the leadership considers where problems could arise and plan ahead.
The school has strong links and relationships with parents, carers, outside agencies and the community and we would encourage you to maintain and develop these further.
We would encourage you to develop the change team so that they have a more pro active role in the school.
We would suggest you showcase the outstanding emotional wellbeing and mental health work with your Local Authority.
I am delighted to award Wicklea Academy the Wellbeing Award for Schools.
This reflects the school, staff, students, parents’ and governors’ commitment to emotional wellbeing and mental health and your achievements across the school.
This award covers the following 3 years. I look forward to the work the school will undertake over this time.