Back to school wellbeing boost for pupils and teachers

Pupils and teachers in Hull have returned to full-time education better equipped to deal with the impacts of Covid thanks to a programme which has been designed to boost emotional wellbeing and mental health support in schools and colleges.

Working in partnership with Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and voluntary and community sector partners, HeadStart Hull developed a Covid Recovery and Restoration Plan for Children and Young People’s mental health. 

The plan, which was developed in consultation with young people, parents and schools, included the implementation of Wellbeing for Education Return, a Department for Education commissioned programme. The programme, for which Hull City Council received a grant of £34,443, is a training programme run by mental health experts, to help improve how schools and colleges respond to the emotional impact of the pandemic on their students and staff.

The programme aims to help support pupil’s emotional wellbeing, resilience and recovery and to prevent longer-term mental health problems developing, as well as helping to manage and support those who have pre-existing difficulties that may have been exacerbated by coronavirus. 

It recognises that teachers and other school and college staff may need additional support to be able to understand the range of reactions children and young people may have as they return to the classroom and get back on track. It helps give them the confidence to support pupils, their parents, carers and their own colleagues, and know how and where to access appropriate specialist support where needed.

HeadStart Hull developed a number of resources including training films in partnership with Mind; Life After Covid Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) lesson plans in partnership with Chameleon PDE; transition guides in partnership with Barnardo’s; and webinars.

As part of the Covid recovery plan HeadStart Hull also developed a section on the local Mental Health website www.howareyourfeeling.org.uk with a range of self care guidance co produced with children and young people and parents to help others to look after themselves and their loved ones during the pandemic. Hull’s approach, tailored to local need, has been recognised nationally with the Local Government Association (LGA), highlighting it as an example of best practice on its website and inviting the council to present their approach at LGA’s annual conference online.

Feedback from schools on the support provided has been excellent. Boulevard Academy Vice Principal said: “Since Headstart became involved with us we have embarked on a huge journey. We now have a dedicated wellbeing coordinator and team that provides daily support to our children. Covid 19 has seen child mental health concerns increase so daily support has been necessary. Recent pupil voices tell us our students feel very supported. We now have a dedicated department and team that support youngsters on a daily basis and provide referrals to several external agencies.” 

Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Shane McMurray said: “Positive mental wellbeing is crucial as it’s difficult for young people in the wrong state of mind to recover lost learning. If children are struggling emotionally or socially, they are more likely to struggle academically.

“The autumn term will have been the first time many pupils have been with their classmates since schools closed to prevent the spread of the virus. It is only natural that some children and young people may still be feeling anxious or sad as a result of coronavirus, especially those who have been away from the classroom for so long.

“The programme empowers teachers and parents to spot the signs when young people are struggling and enables them to listen to any concerns and respond in a calm, supportive and reassuring way.

If you are a young person, parent, carer or teacher, visit www.howareyoufeeling.org.uk for advice and support.

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