Pastoral & Wellbeing
“The caring and supporting nature of the school and its staff has enabled our son to excel.” Parent
Pupils’ wellbeing is very important to us at Solefield. We are the first boys' independent school in the UK to acheive the Wellbeing Award for Schools. The award verifier was very complimentary about how well we encourage boys to talk about their feelings and how unusual this can be in schools. Optimus Education, in conjunction with the National Children’s Bureau are the awarding body. We are also a member of the Schools' Wellbeing Partnership. Read more about our award here.
As boys develop and mature, we understand how various external pressures can affect them and it is therefore vital for them to be able to communicate their feelings.
Pupils at Solefield have pastoral contact time at the start and end of each day with caring and dedicated form teachers in which they are encouraged to explore and discuss their emotions, as well as weekly RSHE sessions in forms and houses. In addition to their form teacher, each year group has a team of teachers who are with them at form time enabling them to work in groups of 4 or 5 (sometimes smaller) with a dedicated pastoral teacher.
Circle time is regularly used to give each member of a class the chance to explain how they feel. Misunderstandings inevitably occur between children; teachers strive to get them to understand that good communication is crucial as we go through life and opening up and sharing how you are feeling should be normal and natural.
We encourage positive talk about others and also, crucially, positive self-talk. We regularly impress on the children that your inner voice is like a computer programme that plays when your mind is both active and ‘idling’ and we work to help them manage stress as well as to boost their self-esteem and resilience. As a small school with a tight-knit community, the onus for looking after the wellbeing of the pupils is on all staff, not just their form teacher and all staff are quick with a smile or chat and follow up any issues, no matter how small.
Our Wellbeing Team looks after the mental health of all pupils and staff. We have three Wellbeing Hubs for children to use and we have two trained counsellors on the staff who deliver talk time and theraplay.
Our fiction reading initiative encourages boys to read with their form teachers for a minimum of 6 minutes at the start and end of every school day. This allows boys to disengage from the real world and to rest their cognitive capabilities to be able to get back to peak functionality. Research at the University of Sussex shows that reading is the most effective way to overcome stress, beating other methods like listening to music, yoga or taking a walk. Within 6 minutes of silent reading, participants' heart rates slow and tension in their muscles eases up to 68%. Psychologists believe reading works so well because the mind's concentration creates a distraction that eases the body's stress. We teach our boys to value this stillness and relaxation and hope to create a habit that will serve them well for the rest of their life.