Solefield was this week granted a national award for work in pastoral care and well-being. The school’s outstanding wellbeing initiatives were praised for their focus on raising awareness of the importance of mental health and for providing pupils with skills to help them take on the challenges and opportunities of the modern world. The award is the culmination of 15 months of very hard work by our Change Team of Mrs Glennon-Cousins, Mrs Mack, Mrs Robinson and Mr Bowden, led by Mrs Koheji. Pupils, parents and governors have also been an important part of this team.
The award is given by Optimus, in conjunction with the National Children’s Bureau. It is a tough one to get as it is nationally recognised. Reigate Grammar School and Sevenoaks School are amongst other proud recipients. We are the first independent boys' school across the whole of the UK to have achieved the Wellbeing Award. The verifier was very complimentary about how well we encourage boys to talk about their feelings and how unusual this can be in schools.
The Solefield Change Team and Wellbeing Committee, made up of staff, pupils, parents and governors (and dogs!) have really put wellbeing at the heart of all that we do and improved this in every aspect of school life.
Wellbeing lessons, hubs, assemblies, staff and pupil worry boxes and trained wellbeing dogs have been introduced and established at the school in the last 15 months. Charitable initiatives to support mental health, talk time, a school counsellor, presentations for parents, Lego therapy and play therapy as well as lots of pastoral time and work on expressing emotions and talking things through are all now part of school-life. Mental health and wellbeing training have given all members of staff the confidence and strategies to support pupils on a daily basis which has helped their own mental health. All our Year 7 and 8 boys have undergone Mental Health Warrior training.
We have evaluated the RSHE curriculum to include more topics that support wellbeing such as self-care and coping strategies and our Wellbeing Champions are proving to be a very effective form of pupil leadership. Introducing counselling services helped pupils maintain better emotional wellbeing and signposting support routes means pupils and staff know where to go for help.
Our accreditation verifier spent a whole day with us, meeting with pupils, staff, governors and parents and watched videos of staff and pupils explaining what wellbeing means to them. He reviewed much evidence and observed all areas of the school in action.
Our school values, ‘Value yourself. Value others. Value our world' tie in beautifully with the work on this award. They are at the core of everything we do at Solefield, as is wellbeing.
Wellbeing is about more than happiness; it is understanding how our bodies and minds work and then learning to look after ourselves through life. We try to equip pupils with strategies to deal with whatever life throws at them, whenever that may be.
I am very grateful to all the pupils, staff, parents and governors who have helped us to achieve this, in particular Mrs Koheji. Solefield is an exceptionally caring and nurturing school and it is wonderful to have this officially recognised.
Mrs Helen McClure