• Mark Sandbach

Positive feedback from Cheshire East schools on wellbeing programme

Cheshire East Council has published its evaluation of the government’s Wellbeing for Education return programme, recording positive feedback from children and schools.

The report, published in support of Mental Health Awareness Week (10–16 May), details the package of training and resources that has supported staff working in education during the Covid-19 crisis.

The programme is helping schools and colleges respond to additional pressures some children and young people and staff have experienced because of the pandemic, including bereavement, stress, trauma, anxiety and low mood.

The programme was initially rolled out in November and December last year with more than 360 delegates from 160 schools attending virtual training and consultation sessions. Feedback from the sessions has been invaluable in shaping continued support for schools moving forward.

The programme has been overseen by a wellbeing for education recovery coordinator, who worked with services to develop and deliver training and signpost schools to support and information from a wealth of schemes, organisations and resources.

The council’s educational psychology team provided a range of support and training, which included the delivery of their emotional literacy for support assistants (ELSA) course. This course promotes the mental wellbeing of children and young people by working with school staff to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence. A teacher at a participating school said: “I just wanted to let you know that I am thoroughly enjoying the ELSA course and have many ideas on how to integrate this into our school! I am very excited to have a tool that all children, staff and families will benefit from to support their emotional literacy and mental wellbeing."

The council’s medical needs tuition team has also been developed, learning more about mental health and wellbeing as part of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) lessons, covering topics such as; stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, positive body image and positive mental wellbeing. One parent told the team: “My child is now able to discuss with me how they felt about being so stressed.”

Twenty primary schools have accessed support from My Happy Mind, funded by public health, an organisation that helps primary schools, nurseries, and families to create a positive mental wellbeing culture, in which children build resilience, self-esteem, and character. Cheshire East Council has secured further funding to extend this programme across more primaries over the coming months. One teacher said: "It's absolutely fantastic. I teach year three and they have already started recalling memories from when they were nervous or worried about things from a while ago. They are really engaged. I am telling everyone about you!"

Councillor Kathryn Flavell, chair of Cheshire East Council’s children and families committee, said: “I’d like to thank all our schools for engaging with this programme and sharing the positive impact they’ve already seen on their staff and children, young people and their families.

“I thank them also for the ideas they have shared and the feedback they have given to help us drive this programme forward. I know that together we can provide a stronger offer to improve social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing of children and young people across Cheshire East.

Sara Chigwell, deputy head teacher at Styal Primary School, said: “We now feel more equipped to support not just our children but our staff too after such a difficult year.

“The ongoing information and support has been invaluable for staff to know where to go and how best to support children and families. The training has allowed us to look at immediate and longer term needs to enhance our whole school approach to mental health.”




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