NHS Berkshire were guests at the opening of LVS Ascot’s new Health & Well-being Centre on Wednesday 20 November, and praised the school’s stance of prioritising health and mental health, which will assist in their academic progress. Karen Cridland, Director of Children, Young People & Family Services for Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, spoke to parents gathered at the event and was impressed with what she saw as the independent, all-ability school opened the new facility to support pupils physically and mentally.
Addressing parents, Karen Cridland said: “Your children are very lucky coming to this school. There is something about being in a school that looks after young people and takes mental health very seriously, and with this new facility, LVS Ascot is clearly a school which does that. The benefit to pupils is that it gives them a safe space to talk about their feelings, whether connected to physical illness or their emotional health. By feeling safe and secure it will support their academic progress and development of friendships too”.
The new centre, which provides a triage throughout the school day for all medical issues and concerns, means students from age 4 to 18 can also learn about topics such as mental health, first aid, coping strategies and ways to enhance their self-esteem. A garden area provides an opportunity for outdoor learning and activities to stimulate positive well-being.
Parents who also enjoyed a tour of the facilities on the day were equally impressed. Aarti B, whose son Luke is in Year 13 at LVS Ascot, said: “I have put four children through four different schools and none of the others have anything like this. If my eldest had had access to a facility like this it would have really benefitted her – it provides a different level of help. My youngest may move here for her A-levels, and the Health & Well-being Centre is definitely something which adds to the attraction of coming here”.
LVS Ascot has also recently opened a calming space in the heart of the school where pupils can drop in during the school day for a chat, called the Well-being Hub. Students can visit to share their feelings with the dedicated Well-being Manager and receive guidance on managing anxiety positively and learn stress-relieving techniques. Curriculum class visits allow discussions and teaching on the promotion of well-being at the Hub, which plays a vital part in assisting students to achieve their personal best.
The new Health & Well-being Centre and the Well-being Hub are part of LVS Ascot’s wider focus on pastoral care, which was rated as “excellent” by the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate on their visit in May 2019. Their report observed that “pupils demonstrate an excellent awareness of how to stay safe and they understand the importance of being physically and mentally healthy”. The school’s House structure provides comprehensive pastoral support so pupils know there is always someone to turn to, and small tutor groups give pupils access to constant support throughout the school day.
LVS Ascot Principal Christine Cunniffe said: “We adopt a “whole school” approach to supporting pupils’ mental health, and a holistic package of care is available across the new centre and Well-being Hub, which has a dedicated full-time manager, to help children with the pressures of everyday life. The Health & Well-being Centre provides medical doctors and counsellors along with the opportunity to take part in meditation, origami and a range of other activities to help pupils stay relaxed and stress free”.