At Sevenoaks Primary School, we are committed to supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of our pupils. Promoting wellbeing, building resilience and good mental health will improve life chances for our children.
Research into child development and neuroscience all provide us with the understanding of the direct correlation between positive mental health and optimum educational outcomes. If wellbeing is high, then children can reach their full potential. When children experience safety in their relationships they open up to new learning; it is therefore vital that wellbeing is placed at the foundation of our school offer.
How do we support social and emotional development at Sevenoaks Primary School?
At Sevenoaks Primary School, we use the Thrive Approach to support children with their emotional and social development, to enable them to engage with life and learning.
Based on established neuroscience, attachment theory and child development, the Thrive Approach equips adults with the knowledge, insights and resources needed to develop the relationships that help children and young people to flourish and learn.
Through observations and Thrive online, adults in school are able to select age-appropriate strategies and activities to support children’s emotional development. All children will benefit from the Thrive approach, enhancing emotional and social skills, and improving emotional well-being. Some children may not have had the life experiences required to equip them to regulate their emotions. A sudden life-changing event can lead to a child underachieving because of behaviours that cause a barrier to their learning.
By using Thrive we will
- Develop a holistic approach to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
- Provide early identification and effective support for children who are experiencing emotional, social or behavioural difficulties.
- Provide an environment for children to safely express and explore strong feelings which are creating barriers to learning.
- Develop supportive relationships between peers, and between children and adults in school.
- Support children to regulate, leading to resilience, academic progress and positive relationships.
- Provide children with strong foundations that will carry them through into adulthood.
Key staff are trained as Thrive practitioners, which means they have received specific training to allow them to work with individual children or groups, to support their emotional development.
Designated safe spaces
Pupils designed a Thrive room, as a safe space for children across the school to explore their emotional world:
We also have a sensory room, to provide children with a safe space to regulate their emotions:
Emotionally Available Adults
We recognise that every interaction can be a therapeutic intervention – as such, all staff are trained on the Thrive Approach.
In addition to this, we have a number of adults trained as Mental Health First Aiders. We also have Child Liaison Officers (CLO) who act as emotionally available adults for children who require additional support by providing regular check ins.
What is mindfulness?
“The awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the current moment, non-judgementally” - Jon Kabat-Zinn
We deliver mindfulness through the MISP ‘dots’ and ‘Paws b’ curriculum.
Mindfulness involves training our attention to experience the present moment with greater curiosity and kindness. This helps us to not only appreciate what is going well but to respond more skilfully to life's inevitable challenges.
You may have heard of mindfulness or read some media coverage about it. A great deal of this media interest has arisen as a result of the growing body of rigorous research evidence regarding the potential benefits of mindfulness for young people. These include randomised control trials and neuroscientific studies.
As Professor Katherine Weare observed in her award-winning research summary: Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People, schools who engage in mindfulness are likely to see ‘beneficial results on the emotional wellbeing, mental health, ability to learn and even the physical health of their students.’
During the course they will be learning about:
- Specific areas of the brain and how these affect our ability to focus, make good choices, recognise when we need to steady ourselves when our body or mind is busy or out of balance.
- Ways that mindfulness can support them in many day-to-day activities, including concentration and memory, behavioural self-management, and in relationships with family and friends.
- Ways to respond rather than react – and therefore make better choices and take best care of ourselves.
Further research studies regarding the benefits of mindfulness for young people can be found on the Mindfulness in Schools Project Website: mindfulnessinschools.org – Research.
Meet Nelly the dog! Nelly is a school therapy dog - she is available to help settle and regulate children.
Time with animals can have the following positive impacts:
- Bridges communication gaps.
- Provides comfort.
- Lowers anxiety and decreases agitation.
- Reduces loneliness.
- The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response.
- Stabilizes blood pressure.
- Breathing slows in those who are anxious.
- Releases many hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, phenylethylamin and serotonin.
We have a student Wellbeing Ambassador in every class (to find out more please see our Student Wellbeing Ambassadors page)
At Sevenoaks Primary School, we recognise that wellbeing and behaviour are inextricably linked. We have a Relational Policy (formerly known as a behaviour policy). We recognise that behaviour is a form of communication and we therefore take responsibility for listening to the needs a child is expressing through their behaviour, whilst setting clear boundaries and expectations. We recognise that there are times when children will need support to make healthy choices with their behaviour. In recognition of the rupture and repair cycle, all incidents will conclude with a restorative conversation.
Draw and Talk
Key staff have been trained to deliver Draw and Talk sessions. Children can explore their emotional world through the medium of drawing, over a series of sessions with a trained practitioner. This can be especially beneficially for pupils who find it difficult to talk about their emotions.
Family Liaison Officer
Our Family Liaison Officer provides support for families, to enable their children to reach their potential. She offers Nurture Breakfast and Journal Club.
Zones of regulation
We use a scheme called ‘zones of regulation’ to teach our pupils to name and regulate their emotions:
It is key that children do not identify zones as good or bad – as it is normal to experience a range of emotions through any given day – just that some are comfortable and some are uncomfortable
How can I support my child at home?
To support our work in school on developing emotional regulation, we would encourage you to discuss this at home too. You could ask your child:
Which zone are you in?
What tools/strategies could you use to get back into the green zone?
Tell me about a time you were in the red zone and how you dealt with it.
How would you support someone who is in the red/blue/yellow zone?
Who should I contact to discuss concerns or needs of my child?
Class Teacher or Phase Leader
If you have any concerns about your child you should speak to your child’s class teacher or Phase Leader first.
If you feel your child requires further support, please contact our Family Liaison Officer, via the school office, who will talk to you about the internal and external wellbeing support that is available.
Tel: 01732 453952
If you have any concerns about your child’s social and emotional development and would like to seek further support, you can self-refer via the school health team.
What outside support does the school use for my child?
The school works with a number of external agencies to seek advice and support to ensure that the needs of all children are fully understood and met. These include:
School health team
Specialist teaching and learning service
A public health England and NHS site to help people take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental wellbeing and support others.
The Anna Freud centre shares quality-assured information, advice and resources to help primary schools understand and promote children’s mental health and wellbeing.
Emotional Health & Well-Being For Young People | The Children's Society (childrenssociety.org.uk)
The coronavirus has disrupted the life of every child in the country. Feeling anxious or overwhelmed is completely understandable at a time like this, especially if you are struggling with mental health or are concerned about someone with a physical illness. Our mental and emotional health resource vault is full of advice on issues that may be worrying young people.
YoungMinds is the UK's leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Advice on depression, anxiety, ADHD & self-harm
YoungMinds Parents Helpline
0808 802 5544 (9.30 to 4.00pm, Mon- Fri)
We offer free, confidential online and telephone support, including information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25.
Papyrus-is the UK Charity for the prevention of young suicide.
CALL: 0800 068 41 41 TEXT: 0778 620 9697
Mon-Fri 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Weekends 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm Bank Holidays 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (9.30am - 4pm Monday to Friday)
Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England and Northern Ireland.
ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor for free about anything - no problem is too big or too small.
West Heath is a school for children with for students with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.. They provide an outreach programme to provide training and support for teachers and other professionals working in the field of education. You can find lots of wonderful resources on their website.
KOOTH - XenZone is a provider of online mental health services for children, young people and adults.Kooth, from XenZone, is an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop and free at the point of use.Please click on this link if you wish to be directed to Kooth.
Colorfy is a lovely colouring mindfulness app that first started off in print version. Based in science of creativity and how colouring can create a feeling of flow that is associated with a meditative state. It is beautiful, and just looking at the lovely colours made me feel happy. You can paint from pre-loaded templates or even create your own.
How can I help my child?
Parents; Please see the Schools Sharepoint Student Wellbeing page for a selection of resources to support your child's wellbeing (school login required).