Staff and students from two London South East Academies Trust schools are celebrating this week after achieving a prestigious silver award for a pioneering mental health initiative.
The kite mark has been awarded by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schoolsafter the initiative was rolled out across the schools’ four sites in Bromley. The Carnegie Centre aims to recognise and promote high standards in mental health support for children, their parents/carers and staff at all levels of educational provision.
Head of Therapy at Bromley Beacon Academyand Bromley Trust Academy, Larissa Sherman, has led colleagues through a carefully crafted plan of action over the past twelve months to address all forms of social and emotional mental health concerns amongst students; tracking and monitoring their progress and wellbeing throughout that period.
The schools have encouraged all students to be reflective and take the initiative to support their mental health and wellbeing by providing extra lessons on how to identify stress and anxiety in either themselves or their friends.
They have also invested more resources in establishing therapy sessions, arts and music workshops, parent support and training groups.
Staff too have been given more support in mental health awareness, counselling, supporting children with autism or who present behaviour that challenges, and many are now studying part-time NVQ Level 2 training courses in these areas.
“It’s vital that our staff are trained to recognise mental health issues among the students and are suitably equipped with the resources and tools to help,” says Larissa. “All staff members prepare our students for life outside of education in a range of different academic subjects leading to their future careers. We must also prepare them socially and emotionally for the tough challenges they will face in their lives and how to get through them when they arrive.
“It is wonderful to have our hard work acknowledged by receiving this award. It means we can reflect positively on the initiatives taken and widen participation. We now aim to share our research and models of good practice in both local and national arenas.
“We have been invited to attend and talk at the forthcoming National Suicide Prevention Alliance Conference 2019, as well as liaising with the Department for Education (DfE) on our assessment measures and Leeds Beckett University on a mental health working paper series. We have also been asked to provide training sessions for other educational professionals and institutions within our borough.”
Lead Assessor for the Mental Health in Schools Awards, Liz Dawson praised the Trust for its work. She said: "There are strong relationships across the schools and mental health and wellbeing are at the heart of what they do. The support for each pupil is individualised to meet his or her needs. The mental health and wellbeing and SEMH difficulties are normalised and accepted by all staff and pupils in the schools. They are not stigmatised at all."
Neil Miller, Executive Headteacher at both schools is overjoyed with his team’s success. He said:“ Excellent teamwork and communications are at the heart of everything we do at LSEAT. All staff have played a role in achieving this award and have been well advised throughout by Larissa. The project is only into its second year and already we have seen improvements in the students’ wellbeing, their overall behaviour has improved and most of all they have started to take ownership and control of their mental health, becoming more productive. In several recorded case studies, we have also noticed a significant improvement in academic results. ”