VIEWS & OPINION
VIEWS & OPINIO N It’s’s notwhat you teach, it’s’s
who, howandwhy: supporting mentalwellness through
learning outside the classroom Comment by DOMINIC BRISTER, Leader of Parallel
Curriculumat StamfordWelland Academy I am a passionate advocate of
supporting young people who struggle with mental health issues. I believe that poor mental health sometimes expresses itself through poor
behaviour in school, including low- level disruption like annoying peers or challenging teachers.
Our school has been making
massive changes to our approach. Five years ago, we were struggling to attract students, now our year groups are at capacity. Our interventions have facilitated change, raising standards, aspirations and hopes.
We run a Parallel Curriculum, an integral part of Academy life, extending our day to 4.15. Students can participate in ‘Session 6s’ at least twice a week, ranging across many activities, often outdoors or in a more informal environment.
We run a PLEDGES programme: Participation, Leadership, Excellence, Diversity, Giving and Environment. Students have progressive achievement levels: at Bronze, students demonstrate evidence of self- development. Silver level means active participation within school and the
community. Gold level involves deeper involvement including further afield. In 2016 and 2018, 2 groups of students trekked inMorocco, living with a Berber tribe, experienced different cultures, raised money for the expedition, and changed the lives of communities by rebuilding damage d irrigation channels.
We also have the 101 Challenge, where students set themselves 101 new experiences. These can be simple, like star gazing, or can involve impressive personal development, caring and learning new skills. I am hugely influenced by The Outward Bound Trust and the
pedagogies they use in their experiential outdoor learning. I believe in the restorative powers of the outdoors and the posi green time, space to talk, listen and reflect.We target groups on OB residentials.
now take Year 7s, 9s and tive effects of having
The first such residential involved a group of ‘challenging’ students. During the week, one of them, a tough, champion boxer, Alpha male, envied by others, burst into tears around the camp fire, confiding his fears to all . Everyone listened, everyone suppor ted him. Four years later, he came back into school in his Royal Guardsman uniform, a huge nt.
The Out achieveme
ward Bound ethos, being out of doors, leaving phones behind,
things like regular bedtimes and meal times are all conduits to change and contribute to physical and mental wellness. By going outside into nature, students gain command of their behaviour, become self-reliant and happier.
I use Outward Bound learning models in my teaching and pick up new pedagogies from their instructors which helps develop my work. I take school staff on residentials, and they bring fresh innovations back to the classroom.
Student s can’t fully engage if their minds ar e elsewhere. Our schoo l supports them to bring their minds into balance, learn how to "park thoughts" and address them later.We encourage them to be open to the idea that they are more than they think they are and that behaviour and emotions are directly linked. They learn to control and overcome fear, lessening anxiety and stress.We give our students the tools they need to improve their mental well-being, physical health and to fac e adversity with confidence .
children need to learn howto self care
Comment by JOHN SMITH, Chief Executive of the PAGB, the consumer healthcare associa tion
The Department for Education recently published guidance, outlining positive steps to ensure health education is compulsory in all state-funded schools. Although this is a welcome move, I do not believe the proposed core areas set out in the guidance adequately address the self care education children need to improve health literacy from an early age.
According to a 2016 NHS England Report, between 43%and 61%of English working-age adults routinely do not understand health information. People from more disadvantaged socioeconomic groups have been identified as having levels of health literacy which are disproportionately low or inadequate. Our own research has also found that 71%of people think there should be better education around self-
treatable conditions and relevant services, to encourage more people to self care. Early school-based interventions would help to increase health literacy and are a crucial starting point to embedding a lifelong culture of self care in our population.
services a p healthcare
The current definition of ‘simple self care techniques’ included in the guidance is limited to the importance of rest, time spent with friends and family, and the benefits of hobbies and interests, as well as basic first aid. Whilst these are all important self care messages, I believe that all children should be educated about how to self care and manage self- treatable conditions, as well as to understand the different roles of professionals, so they grow up knowing how the use NH S propriately .
This should include teaching children how to common self-treatable conditions, like coughs a
nd colds, and where to identify symptoms of
go for advice and treatments – highlighting the important role of pharmacists as expert healthcare professionals.
Ensuring these important self care messages are included in schools’ health education will not only empower the adults of tomorrow with the information they need to self care appropriately unnecessary demands on GPs and hospital servi £1.5bn a year to be reinvested into the NHS.
ces, saving an estimated but will also reduce
The recommendation for self care to be expanded as part of the national curriculum is included in a newWhite Paper* published by PAGB in response to the NHS Long Term Plan. TheWhite Paper outlines key policies which must be implemented to create and embed a culture of self care, including supporting people to manage their own health, tackling health inequalities and reducing pressures on NHS services.
*http tps:////ww www.w.pagb.co.uk/
k/p/policy cy/ y/s/self- f-care-wh te -p white-paper/
2 2 www .education-today.co.uk.co.uk
Apri l 2019 2019
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