A Worcestershire school has achieved the School Mental Health Award which is delivered by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools. Malvern St James Girls’ School was awarded a gold standard for its outstanding mental health and wellbeing provision.
Malvern St James Girls’ School provides a wide range of activities to boost the wellbeing of pupils and staff, including offering Youth Mental Health First Aid training to a cross section of staff and Sixth Form, Wellbeing Champion and Wellbeing Ambassador peer support structures for staff and pupils, mindfulness, mental health and wellbeing lessons taught through PSHEEC and using social media platforms to signpost support and information via @msjbuzz on Instagram and Twitter.
Using the Girls on Board Scheme, pupils are taught how to engage in healthy, happy friendships as well as how to manage the ways in which these inevitably change over time. Once developed, these relationship skills will have lifelong relevance.
A focal point of the school’s mental health and wellbeing provision is to ensure that every girl feels known and valued at Malvern St James. The school recognises that young people who feel a secure sense of belonging are in a position to get the very best out of their learning experience and so everything the school does is underpinned by wellbeing.
The school also ran a Virtual Festival of Wellbeing, hosting talks from speakers such as Steve Backshall, Helen Glover and Natasha Devon MBE. They have further initiated the Three Counties Wellbeing Collective in order to share best practice with pastoral leads from local schools and were proud to have their Pastoral Prefect produce a book for young people to learn about Mental Health issues as part of their EPQ.
Malvern St James Girls’ School’s Headmistress, Olivera Raraty said: “I am extremely proud and delighted that MSJ’s outstanding pastoral provision in support of positive mental health has been recognised in this way. Mental health programmes have come such a long way in schools in recent years and we are delighted to be at the forefront of this change working with the Carnegie Centre of Excellence. This award also recognises the excellent way that staff and pupils support each other day in, day out, to promote wellbeing.
“The wellbeing of our pupils and staff is at the forefront of everything that we do. The positive mental health programme has given us useful tools and helped raise even greater awareness of the importance of wellbeing amongst pupils and staff; this has changed the language and the way in which we respond as a community to individual needs. We can see that this approach has had a palpable effect on the positive emotional and mental wellbeing of pupils and staff, never more so than during these past few months as we supported one another during the pandemic. This could not have been more timely! This approach is rooted in everything we do at MSJ and we are already building on this work in new and exciting ways.”
The award was established in 2017 by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – part of Leeds Beckett University – and social enterprise Minds Ahead.
The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools aims to strengthen pupils’ mental health by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK’s education system, improving students’ outcomes and life chances.
Professor Damien Page, Dean of Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “Achieving this award is not just recognition of a whole-school approach to mental health, it’s a recognition of the school’s commitment to improving the life chances of children.
“We’re truly proud to have worked with Malvern St James Girls’ School in this vital work and look forward to further collaboration.”
Nationally, more than 900 schools have signed up to take part in the mental health award.
Dean Johnstone, founder and CEO of Minds Ahead said: “This award shines a light on the excellent work schools are doing to promote mental health for their community of children and adults.
“It is thrilling and humbling to learn about Malvern St James Girls’ School and the many other schools engaged in the quality award process. I’d like to offer my congratulations on this deserved recognition.”