Workshops are extremely important in a school environment to promote pupils’ wellbeing and increase awareness of topics.
Here, Richard Fitzgerald, the head teacher at Langdon Park School, discusses how workshops are valuable for students, staff and parents as well as highlighting how workshops in the future must become proactive by nature.
Currently, in the UK, the picture of youths’ wellbeing and mental health remains patchy and overall quite bleak, with an estimated one in ten children estimated to have been clinically diagnosed with either a mental health disorder and/or emotional or behavioural problems, according to the BBC. Suicide remains one of the three most common causes of death amongst youngsters and the prominent rise of social media has allowed for new problems to emerge such as cyberbullying, which can, of course, contribute to emotional and mental health problems. It has been suggested that Government policy has not reflected the need to focus on children’s wellbeing especially with the removal of criteria from Ofsted reports to monitor how well schools promote students’ health or personal development.
The London School of Economics has suggested that schools, in recent years, have been called to take up a ‘protective’ role that traditionally the families and communities have always undertaken. Finding the balance of this role can be tricky, yet one way in which schools can remain vigilant in promoting pupils’ wellbeing is through workshops that can be provided throughout the school terms. Workshops allow for key information to be distributed with support available if necessary, whilst also informing the traditional protectors of children (the families and communities) of the same information and support.
All schools should share the same ethos that every child deserves to be happy, safe and successful at school. This can be the tone that permeates every aspect of school life and can be shown to be one of the key determinants of wellbeing and mental health in schools. Pupils who have better health have been shown to be better educated, so anything that can promote pupil wellbeing will benefit the pupil, family, community and ultimately the school itself as it provides an opportunity to improve the achievement levels of a pupil.
This clearly highlights the need for workshops surrounding wellbeing and mental health in schools. Although many are present on a national level, it has been suggested that these are too reactive in their nature. They are addressing issues that have already emerged and often occur long after an issue has arisen within the school or in society.
It is therefore important for schools to provide workshops of a preventative and/or proactive nature as the most effective interventions are those that take place early on. This is because they can help students, parents or teachers identify any issues and equally prevent or minimise the effects from escalating whether this is a mental health issue or bullying in the classroom.
At Langdon Park School, we recognise the need for proactive workshops. We have held sessions surrounding mental health for both our pupils and parents as we are aware that early intervention and support networks can really help our community. From our recent mental health workshop, nearly three-quarters of pupils who had requested help for their mental health issues went to their teachers first. In addition to this, there was a significant number of parents making self-referrals to receive counselling.
Workshops are important within school environments to promote wellbeing and happiness for our pupils, but also for raising awareness within the community in general. They provide the right guidance and advice to support everyone involved without taking away the ‘protective’ role which parents and the community are responsible for – they just provide the helping hand when needed.