Improving Pupil Wellbeing Through Effective Leadership and Governance
There is a strong link between the Quality of Education schools offer and Pupil Wellbeing. Under the new Education Inspection Framework, (EIF) inspectors will be looking to see that planning and sequencing of the curriculum is coherent. Resulting in cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment.
The acquisition of skills is a prerequisite of pupil wellbeing and future prospects. There needs to be evidence of character building alongside the core curriculum and within it. Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Education, (SMSC) embedded into plans.
Pupil Behaviour and Attitudes
At St. Mary Magdalen’s, this academic year began with a whole school INSET day for staff on the principles of Growth Mindset. Every five-year plan in our school has an overarching theme and it is currently Growth. The day was about a Growth Mindset in adults as well as children and reminded staff of the importance of positivity. We narrowed the principles down for the children; I can work harder, I can get smarter, I can put more time in, Learning is my goal and Effort makes me stronger. Growth Mindset has had an impact upon the resilience and attitude to learning of the pupils, but it is a work in progress.
The school values within this year of “Flying High” are child friendly with the classes named after birds. For example, Y6 are Eagles, soaring high with the value of courage. About to leave the nest for Secondary School. YR are Ducklings, learning to work and play together with the value of Friendship.
Pupils’ voice is at the heart of the planning for the yearly themes with the pupils suggesting them. Last year trees were the class theme with the year, The Year of Personal Growth. “Take advice from a tree, stand tall and take in the view. Branch out and drink lots of water!”
Character building comes from the opportunities to contribute to school life in a variety of ways. Peer leadership opportunities: Buddies to Reception Class, Head Gardeners, Reconciliation Monitors, Prayer Monitors, Play Leaders, Class Captains, House Captains, Librarians, School Council, Eco Committee and Y6 Prefects. Y6 monitor the ‘Worry Box’ along the corridor as well as the ‘Bright Ideas Box,’ lit up with Fairy Lights.
Our annual Y6 Enterprise Project, ‘Shop ‘Till You Drop!’ calls upon the pupils to form teams, raise money for the school creatively and leave a legacy gift behind, using the funds to buy something to remember them by: a caretaker’s shed, a pirate ship and a mini beast mansion for Reception Class and P.E equipment, our most recent examples.
In the schools with a strong focus on the Quality of Education, and Pupil Wellbeing and positivity, attendance will be high. Children want to come into school. Attendance initiatives keep the link between good attendance and outcomes for children a key principle. Class of the Week celebrations in Weekly Assembly make good attendance a whole class goal. Annual gifts of book tokens to celebrate 100% attendance are highly sought after. Attendance target charts on Classroom noticeboards and corridors displays, such as ‘Attendance Monopoly’, make it clear that it is important to us. The Attendance Policy issued to parents, as part of the induction of new families. The message is clear from the outset; holidays taken in term time will detrimentally affect the outcomes for your child. Not just educationally but socially too.
A clear and succinct pupil Behaviour Policy, reviewed annually with pupils, staff and Governors, will be at the heart of a community valuing personal wellbeing. Relationships are as important to pupils as to the staff and parents.
The message needs to be easily relatable by the children. In our Catholic Primary School, the pupils’ Mission Statement is understandable and helps to channel behaviour into a learning opportunity.
“We are a special caring family loved by God.
Learning together in faith and love.
We do our best for others and ourselves.
Mistakes are our opportunities.”
The pupils’ wellbeing being the core purpose of the school also lies in the Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Procedures. A Health and Safety Week offering the opportunity to refresh on the school’s NSPCC generated ‘Pants Rule.’ The Community Policeman presenting an Assembly on how to stay safe by the local River Thames and the railway bridges. Wellbeing Saturday, an annual event to bring the whole school together, to learn a new skill, whilst learning how to relax through activities such as cooking, walking and knitting.
The impact of the SMSC Policy seen in the opportunities offered to the children. How are the children educated for life in Modern Britain? Do they understand the principles of democracy, and how it relates to them? Age appropriate, do they understand how personal rights are threatened and what to do if they are worried about this? Are they clear about their roles and responsibilities as Global Citizens? Going for an Eco Award, such as The Green Flag Award, will focus the activities of the Eco Committee to educate their peers as to what will make a difference to the planet: Anti- Idling at the railway crossing campaign, Walk on a Wednesday, Y6 writing a Recycling Policy and organising a waste and Single Use Plastic Audit. The result of which a recycled plastic art installation in the school grounds as a daily reminder. This will ensure that the pupils are educated in the broadest sense.
World religion will be more understandable to the children if they visit the places of worship: a Jewish synagogue, A Hindu Temple, a Sikh Gurdwara, an Islamic centre or Mosque. Children will learn about similarities between religions, rather than differences if they experience them first hand.
Positive attitudes to learning and the impact the school is having, will be in the well-presented exercise books. The demonstration of pride, motivation and resilience. In good attendance of both pupils and staff.
What the children know about how to keep safe will evidence, for example, a robust Online Safety Policy. Do they also know about how to keep themselves healthy? Is the Sex and Health Education Policy embedded into developmental programmes of study? Alternatively, is it an awkward bolt on before the children move on to Secondary School?
How does the curriculum allow for the development of the pupils talents and skills? Through Music, the Creative Arts and Extra-Curricular Clubs. Are the pupils encouraged to develop passions for life? In Y3, our pupils enjoy learning how to cook. It was a Government initiative, ‘Let’s Get Cooking,’ dropped three years ago, but we decided to carry on and fund it ourselves.
Under the Government’s Wider Opportunities Programme, we offer free clarinet and saxophone lesson to Y4 with the option to carry on privately in Y5. Until three years’ ago the funds for this ring-fenced in the budget.
We are a language rich environment with the pupils learning French, Italian and Spanish, whilst celebrating the heritage of our own rich and diverse school family. This we believe to be part of what the Inspection Team will expect to see under Cultural Capital. Equity of experiences and pupils’ broader development.
At this time, when we are concerned for our pupils’ wellbeing due to lockdown and school’s operating in different ways, there are many resources available to help:
Coronavirus: A book for children by Consultant Professor Graham Medley
How to talk to your children about the coronavirus by Miriam Chachamu on YouTube
This article was written by Helen Frostick, National Leader of Education and Former Headteacher, St Mary Magdalen's Primary School.
Find further guidance on supporting pupil wellbeing via our Schools Handbook, available for download now.