Very aware of our duty of care to support young people, whatever position they find themselves in, we have been working recently to develop a new mental health strategy. As we have said before, there are degrees of mental health, with the majority of students being exposed at some points in their school careers to what might be termed the normal stresses of life; worrying about exams, worrying about the next steps etc.
However, there are also a number of students who need more.
For all students, we have introduced a new strategy, ‘space’. We don’t profess to be mental health specialists, but we are aware that there can be some delay in receiving support from those people and in many cases, the support required is more ‘off the shelf’. Any student experiencing difficulties in their learning/school day, will be offered a menu of activities which can support them in finding the help they need. That menu highlights the limited services that we have in school alongside some websites which provide online counselling services. It might be that half an hour online might reinforce that any current feelings of anxiety are normal; it might be that more is needed, but the menu will provide the starting point.
We also will offer a clinic, the main focus of the strategy, that we have named Space. This facility, running each Wednesday from 3.30 to 4pm (initially – will be reviewed subject to demand), will offer students the opportunity to talk to pastoral staff but also will provide an environment in which students can be supported directly to access appropriate services relative to their needs.
We aren’t going to promise that this will provide all of the answers that our students may need. We do think that it will be a space to look for answers for the vast majority, and in any case, a formal structure of support for those that are perhaps waiting for NHS based services to start.
We have had notifications from the public of a number of students whose attitudes to road safety haven’t been as strong as we would like. Please continue to have conversations at home about staying alert around roads, especially junctions, and also about using bikes/scooters with care on the roads. Amongst a group of friends, focus can drift and we remain concerned that a child could suffer significant injuries because they aren’t sufficiently respectful of traffic and the damage it can do.
We have seen, through the news over time, several instances of young people becoming engaged in relationships that have a different basis from the one that they originally perceive. Online, people of all ages can form relationships of a range of natures. We must work together to protect our young people from the most harmful of these by ensuring that children are cautious and that they speak to you about their online activity.
Leicestershire Police have commissioned a film, Kayleigh’s Love Story, which documents the potential risks really explicitly. The film isn’t, in our view, something that you would ask a child to view alone; whilst in the public domain, the film quite graphically works through the last two weeks of a young girls life as she is subjected to grooming on social media. It is very hard-hitting. At five minutes long, it is a quick clip, but one that can make clear how easy it is to make less sensible and potentially very dangerous decisions. The film is on YouTube and I urge you to consider using it as you discuss this kind of issue with your child.
It is also worth saying that whilst this particular film is about a girl, the messages can equally apply to boys.
As always, if you have any questions/concerns about this or any other form of safeguarding risk, please get in touch with the relevant Progress and Achievement Manager in the first instance.