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Whole School Framework: a simple approach

Every organisation has an emotional culture and we help schools to reflect on how well their emotional culture supports their ethos, stated aims, values and outcomes for pupil wellbeing. The emotional culture of a school is formed over time by the people working there, who are led by and model their behaviour on their senior leaders. As part of the core business of a school, we offer opportunities for SLTs and Governors to reflect on their unique context and to consider together how policies, practices and behaviours might further enhance an emotionally healthy culture for the whole school. Encompassing programmes from Family Links, Emotional Health at School and Emotional Health at Work, we have 20 years’ experience in developing, delivering and evaluating emotional health approaches.

The majority of learning in a school is a result of informal interactions and so real change occurs through developing and maintaining a healthy culture. Hours can be spent writing specific programmes and yet for these programmes to bring the desired outcomes it will be the daily culture of the organization which will deliver in reality.

The culture of a school will be what teaches everyone what is acceptable and what is not; this outweighs any list of rules or induction handbooks for staff, pupils or parents. There have been plenty of studies showing the connections between school culture and academic outcomes, staff recruitment and retention, parental engagement and community support; we all learn best when we are feeling safe, contained and able to thrive. Emotional Health at School offers a whole school framework (for staff, pupils, parents) as a pro-active model allowing all members of the school community to develop positive relationships, feelings of competence, agency and self-determination.

Wellbeing for All

The current challenges in schools in the UK are leading to a new understanding that we need to approach things differently to find ways to equip staff, parents and pupils with the environment they need in order to fulfil their different roles well and sustain their own wellbeing. We know that feelings are the drivers of behaviours; an emotionally healthy culture supports everyone in the community with learning to notice, manage and regulate feelings. This daily experience for pupils can develop internal capabilities to manage life’s ups and downs, risks, opportunities, and support them with making healthy choices for themselves. In these ways, an emotionally healthy culture is also a protective factor for Mental Health.

school framework

What we offer

We offer sessions for all staff (teaching, support, administration) and also a variety of Parent Programmes ranging from our 10 week Nurturing Programme, to workshops on specific topics, to working 1:1 with parents (we train staff to facilitate these programmes). Schools which have embedded these programmes over time have found that having a shared language and approach, focusing in on the feelings behind behaviours, can help the whole school community to develop personal strategies and skills to manage themselves and each other in this increasingly complicated world.

It takes time to fully embed a whole-school approach to emotional health and wellbeing. Investing time and resources into developing, establishing and maintaining an emotionally healthy culture produces long term benefits for the emotional health of the whole school community as well as enduring impacts on the pupils’ social, emotional and academic outcomes.

We work together with schools to explore their unique context and to put together a package of reflections/workshops/trainings over a year which can meet their needs within an agreed budget for the year. This allows for SLT and Governors to address this core business of leadership and governance in a proactive, “live” way. When something difficult happens in a school community, it is then possible to re-think the most useful response in terms of workshops or trainings, without this affecting the overall budget. In this way, staff, pupils and parents can also be well-supported to manage in times of need.

Quotes from teachers:

  • Having a shared language and understanding across our school makes managing challenging schoolsituations less stressful.
  • It is really clear to me that we have to work hard to create a learning environment which genuinely feels safe for each individual child. They will only begin their deeper learning when they feel emotionally safe. Having a whole school approach to this is what allows for the development of this deeper learning
  • When parents/carers are allowed into the conversation about our approach, it helps with all of our conversations over the child’s time in the school.
  • Just being reminded on a daily basis that behaviours are driven by feelings makes being a teacher so much less stressful
  • With the responsibility to respond in the best way for so many difficulties, having a clear framework with strategies I can understand and which the children become used to across the school, has allowed me to feel more confident in being able to support children who might have big safeguarding challenges, mental health difficulties or the kind of learning needs which make the classroom a tricky place to be.
  • I have felt so much more confident in managing stressful conversations with parents since the workshop
  • It feels safe for me to learn in this school, so I am able to pass that on to the pupils.

Quotes from parents:

  • I have done the 10 week Parent Programme twice! As my eldest child became a teenager, I felt I schoolwould really benefit from being together with other parents again each week and refreshing my understanding of how I might respond to the new challenges I was facing, and knowing that others are facing the difficulties too.
  • The teachers had always been very friendly and nice but when I did the 10 week parent programme I really understood that I wasn’t being judged as a parent at all – we are just all there to work together for the best outcomes for the children. Home has become more relaxed too!
  • I still meet up with many of the parents who were in my parent group and we can support each other when things are difficult
  • I think it has really helped my children and me that there is a clearer consistency between home and school.
  • I have felt empowered to bring my children up in a way which is different from my own upbringing.

Quotes from Pupils:

  • When I find it hard to manage a difficult feeling and I do something I shouldn’t do, the teachers understand that it’s not because I am a bad person – I just need more practice.schools
  •  I can talk to my Dad about how I feel now
  • My Mum likes the teachers at my school now and that makes me feel safer
  • We have some family rules now which means we don’t fight as much
  • The things we need help with are about managing stressful things in our lives. We can’t concentrate on our lessons and exams when our heads are full of worries.

Main office: 01865 405650

Web: emotionalhealthatschool.org.uk

Web:  familylinks.org.uk

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