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Well-being at St Peter’s School – An update blog

During a recent discussion between Mrs. Wellington Smith and Mrs. Ball we asked ourselves…

  • Why is well-being so important?
  • Why is well-being discussed so much at the moment?
  • What does well-being actually mean for the St Peter’s community?
  • What should we have in place for our children as the pandemic slows and opening up begins?

Here is our update, written to the whole St Peter’s community by Mrs. Claire Wellington-Smith, Assistant Head Pastoral:

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme was connecting with nature. Research has shown that being in nature can have a positive impact on our mental health and general well-being, so the children spent time throughout the week experiencing the outdoors, finding new ways to connect with it as part of their daily routine and celebrating the effect it can have on their mental health.

During the long months of lockdown, millions of us turned to nature to help us get through, with walks outside reported as one of the top ways to cope during the pandemic.

Looking after your mental health as lockdown eases

The gradual easing of the coronavirus restrictions means we can get back to the people and things we love, but even positive change can cause us to feel worried and it can take time to readjust to the things we have not done for a while. Feelings of post-lockdown anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the ‘new normal’ but it’s important to do what we can to take care of our mental health. There are lots of things that can help you to manage these feelings and make it easier to adjust:

  • Go at your own pace and relax – you don’t have to make loads of plans and say yes to everything, just take it easy and only do what you feel comfortable with. Being able to see more people and go to more places is exciting, but it can also be a lot to take in all at once, so it’s important to find time to relax.
  • Don’t avoid things entirely, make a plan – it might feel like the easier option, but avoiding things that make us anxious can make it harder to face in the longer term. Start small, and build up from there. Uncertainty can make things hard to manage, so making a plan can help us feel more comfortable and confident in what we are doing.
  • Get your information from the right sources – being confused and unsure of what you are allowed to do is stressful, so stick to trusted sources like the government’s website, NHS COVID-19 pages for the most up-to-date information.
  • Talk to someone – it’s easy to feel isolated or lonely when we’re struggling, but chances are that someone we know feels exactly the same. Opening up to a person we trust can be really helpful. Being aware of everybody’s fears and expectations can also help to avoid conflict.
  • Find a routine – during lockdown, life changed for us all and we developed new routines, and now restrictions are lifting these routines will change again. Sticking to a routine can help us cope with the change. Something as simple as going to bed and waking up at the same time each day or having a set lunch break can make a big difference.
  • Focus on the present – when there is lots of change happening, we can get caught up in worrying about the future and the past, but try to concentrate on the right here and the right now. Make plans but don’t dwell on ‘what ifs’ or what was ‘supposed’ to happen.

The NHS Every Mind Matters website has lots of expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and well-being.

We are constantly watching our children ‘form’, ‘storm’, ‘norm’, ‘perform’ and ‘adjourn’ here at St Peter’s School. (If you are unaware of how Bruce Tuckman in 1965 described how groups ritually behave with one another please have a read of this article).
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-recognize-the-5-stages-of-group-development

We are, right now, watching this process happen across the school site and, indeed, across society as a whole. If you stop and reflect, then it could be said that our children have NOT been allowed to follow this well-documented cycle of group development. This year our pupils have:

Formed in September 2020. Normed by November 2020. Stormed in December 2020. (They certainly did … lots of fallouts before Christmas)! They certainly performed; shining in academics, arts, sports and had huge enthusiasm for face-to-face learning as ‘norm’. As we ‘adjourned’ for Christmas none of us suspected another school lockdown.

The children, therefore, did not ‘form’ again in January. Lockdown brought isolation and technology-based communications. They ‘performed’, but where was the ‘norm’ about school remote learning ‘Round 2’?

You see, the natural cycle of group development was interrupted. Now we have ‘formed’ again in March 2021. We have ‘normed’ and ‘performed’ in April (wait until you see the school’s academic progress data this year – it’s truly awesome – more to follow on this subject)! So, you know what is coming next … throughout May and June, they will ‘storm’ (and ‘perform’). Ready to ‘adjourn’, come July.

I want to end by covering the topic of bullying. We all know, it can be so damaging to a caring school culture. It certainly has far and wide impacts on children’s well-being. Not just to the victim, but a far wider stretch of pupils and this, of course, includes the perpetrator. Staff are also deeply affected by incidents of bullying.

As Assistant Head Pastoral I make sure that an allegation of bullying is dealt with in a clear and transparent way to ensure that children and young people can play and learn with the confidence that bullying is challenged and addressed. We have a separate anti-bullying policy that defines what bullying is and what we do about it at school. In addition to this, it is important that you know that we also support the community in staff Training – staff at St Peter’s Preparatory School complete Anti-Bullying CPD training regularly.

 

Assemblies

Assemblies are planned into each term and the children are taught to choose positive behaviours. We participate in Anti-bullying Week and complete lessons in PSHE relating to the topic. The children take part in numerous activities that raise awareness of Bullying

 

Ownership

Children at St Peter’s learn about the different roles that people can take when bullying occurs. They are taught that a bystander is someone who sees or knows about bullying or other forms of violence that are happening to someone else; they can either be part of the problem (hurtful bystander) or part of the solution (helpful bystander).

Anti-bullying Ambassadors

St Peter’s Preparatory School, in September, will be launching student Anti-bullying Ambassadors. This was planned pre-covid and we are excited to offer this new role to the children. The aim is that all the children will be aware of these Ambassadors and know that, if they are concerned about a person’s behaviour towards them or other members of the school community, they can speak to either an Ambassador or any member of staff. They will also patrol our Buddy Bus stop area in the playground and help children to find somebody to play with if they are having difficulty at playtimes.

Focus Group

In September, I will also be launching an Anti-bullying Focus Group. This, again, had been planned pre-covid and we are delighted we are finally able to launch it. The Focus Group will examine current anti-bullying practice, future aims and targets, assisting in the updating of the anti-bullying policy and monitoring the effectiveness of the strategy. Our Focus Group will consist of our newly appointed Anti-bullying Ambassadors (children) as well as parents, a Board of Reference member and other staff members.

Change Starts With Us

At St Peter’s Preparatory School, we believe that a simple act of kindness can help a person feel empowered to stand up to bullying. We are encouraging everyone to get involved in choosing kindness and to be the reason to make someone smile. Well-being is indeed very important.

A big thanks to Mrs Wellington-Smith for the well-being update.
We shall end with this. If you are in doubt about what to add to your life routine for good well-being, then maybe follow some of this advice from the Beatles!

 

 

Mrs. Wellington-Smith (Assistant Head Pastoral) & Mrs. Ball (Deputy Head Teaching & Learning)