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Kilburn Grange School

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Mental Health & Wellbeing

We are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff and pupils to ensure that the school is a community where everyone feels valued and able to thrive.

We want children to leave our school as respectful, responsible and caring citizens who understand what makes a relationship healthy and safe, and the importance of nurturing a healthy body and mind. Positive mental wellbeing is essential if children and young people are to flourish and lead fulfilling lives, and we want children to enter the next phase of their learning journey as independent, successful and resilient learners. 

This is why we have chosen Health & Wellbeing as one of our six curriculum drivers.

Our mental health support provision

We take the view that positive mental health is everybody’s business. Our senior mental health lead is Ms Helen Khinich, the Headteacher, who works closely with Ms Sarah Storey, our SENDCo and Deputy Headteacher, to oversee the mental health provision.

We work hard to ensure that children are able to manage times of change and stress, that they are supported and know how to access help if they need it. We do this by teaching pupils what help is available to them, and the likely outcome of seeking support, so that they can act with confidence, should the need arise.
We also teach them what can affect their mental health, what they can do to maintain positive levels of wellbeing, and how they can play a role in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

We are in the process of creating our Ready to Learn Room, a sanctuary where pupils can find calmness, focus and emotional regulation. As well as being a quiet area to settle, the room offers a variety of sensory experiences and several work stations to ensure that we meet the diverse needs of every child.

Support & response

At our school, a range of Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) support is offered based on a three-tiered approach to intervention. The three levels of support are:

  • Universal support to meet the needs of all pupils through our overall ethos, school values, quality teaching, Personal Social Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum as well as the wider curriculum.
  • Additional support for those who may have short-term needs and those who may have been made vulnerable by life experiences such as separation or bereavement.
  • Targeted support for pupils who need more differentiated support and resources, or specific targeted interventions, such as a referral to working with external professionals.

We offer early intervention, so that our response approach can be proactive rather than reactive.

Universal Support, for all pupils

We believe that it is vital to teach a comprehensive PSHE education curriculum. PSHE assists pupils to cope with changes during puberty, introduces them to a wider world and enables them to make an active contribution to their communities.

Themes covered in PSHE include:

  • keeping safe and managing risk
  • identity
  • equality
  • managing feelings and emotions
  • relationships
  • change
  • resilience
  • being healthy - which includes physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing.

Good mental health and wellbeing are just as important as good physical health. Like physical health, mental health can range across a spectrum from healthy to unwell; it can fluctuate on a daily basis and change over time. We promote pupils’ wellbeing through an understanding of their own and others’ emotions and the development of healthy coping strategies.

In 2023, we introduced Zones of Regulation, an approach designed to support the development of self-regulation in children. It teaches children to build awareness of their feelings and uses a variety of tools and strategies for regulation, prosocial skills, self-care and overall wellness. See our Zones of Regulation leaflet for further information.

We mark World Mental Health Day and Children’s Mental Health Week through age-appropriate conversations and whole-school planned activities. We teach pupils the importance of having a healthy mind and help them to understand that it is ok to ask for help.

Sport and physical activity are hugely important to us. Children at our school have two lessons of Physical Education each week in addition to daily playtimes. A wide range of sport-related after school clubs are offered, whilst many of our pupils take part in inter-school sporting competitions, which include an extensive range of sports and activities in London and occasionally further away, providing memorable experiences.

As part of our in-class, inclusive quality first teaching, we utilise a range of approaches that support emotional health and build relationships. We know that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship, and we believe it is crucial that our staff create positive relationships with pupils that are underpinned by mutual respect. As Dr Karen Treisman MBE, Clinical Psychologist, says: "Every interaction is an intervention".

Additional Support

We recognise that early intervention is vital. As part of the additional support for mental health and wellbeing, we have an Intervention Lead Teaching Assistant who delivers nurture groups to provide tailored support to groups of children. The Intervention Lead Teaching Assistant has a good understanding of SEMH and has a Master of Science in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health (postgraduate level), as well as Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) training. The Intervention Lead TA is also the school’s mental health first aider. This means she is available to provide check-ins or support for children as the need arises.

We also work in partnership with a mental health charity, Unlocking Potential, to deliver therapeutic programmes across the school. The support provided by Unlocking Potential varies from additional support such as nurture groups, to group/individual talk-time sessions or check-ins for identified pupils. See the Unlocking Potential Privacy Notice for Parents & Pupils. Pupils can also self-refer themselves for a check-in through our worry boxes located on each floor of the school building. 

Typically, a child will access additional support for a period of six weeks. Progress is reviewed after a six-week block of sessions with the child’s teacher and most importantly the child themselves. We involve parents as appropriate in the support which we put in place.

Targeted Support

Unlocking Potential also provides targeted support for pupils with SEMH needs that require a more long-term intervention. A therapist and a therapist trainee are employed to provide therapeutic support for more complex cases. From time to time, children may require a referral to external professional such as CAMHS (NHS) or the Inclusion Team. If pupils are provided with additional or targeted support, progress is reviewed at the end of the intervention and/or during termly pupil progress meetings.

 Neo the Dog Mentor

We have a school dog mentor called Neo, who joined the Dog Mentor programme in January 2023. The Dog Mentor programme has built upon the benefits of the human-animal bond by providing children with positive experiences with dogs that can help them educationally, developmentally, emotionally and socially. Neo has completed training and passed his Dog Mentor Programme assessment. Full training has been given to Ms Khinich, Ms Storey, Ms Begum and Coach K - who are Neo’s handlers - and ensure that the welfare of everyone involved is maintained as a top priority.

Over the last ten years, the Dog Mentor programme has been proven to have a positive impact on children in all areas including self-esteem, behaviour, peer relationships and better engagement skills. These improvements then result in improved academic achievement.

Mental health and well-being is one of our curriculum drivers and the Dog Mentor programme complements our curriculum offer. The aim is to enhance the universal provision in our school environment for not only social, emotional and mental health well-being but also cover all aspects of curriculum-based education to improve educational outcomes. Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of dogs in schools and evidence indicates that areas of potential benefit include:

  • Cognitive development – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving, game-playing and can improve reading skills.

  • Emotional development – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety.

  • Physical development – interaction with a pet reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move/walk and stimulates the senses.

  • Environmental benefits – a dog in a school contributes towards the creation of a home-style environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.

  • Social benefits – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing, developing social skills and focused interaction with others.

You can find out more about Neo on our staff page

Resources and useful links

Two key elements to support good mental health are:

  • Feeling good: experiencing positive emotions like happiness, contentment and enjoyment, curiosity, engagement and safety.
  • Functioning well: how a person is able to function in the world. This includes positive relationships and social connections, as well as feeling in control of your life and having a sense of purpose.

We like this range of ideas to support parents and carers to ensure the two key elements above are covered in day-to-day life.

Other resources we think might be valuable for parents are: