Mental Health Gold Award for WHS

William Howard School is delighted to be the first school in Cumbria to be awarded the Gold Status of The Carnegie Centre of Excellence Mental Health Award for Schools.

The school has used the framework and content of the Award to develop its mental health and wellbeing strategies, structures and practices.  The external verifier acknowledged that the school endeavours to “go the extra mile” to meet the needs of its students to ensure that they can succeed.

The Department of Education recognises the direct link between positive mental health in schools and successful educational outcomes; the Mental Health Award for Schools builds on this link and provides a framework to evidence policies and initiatives that work towards improving emotional health and wellbeing for both staff and pupils.

Pictured holding the award are Dave McPartlan, Tracy Swan and Wendy McGahan who lead the mental health and wellbeing developments at school.

At William Howard School our aim is to support young people so that they develop into resilient and rounded individuals with the self-awareness to recognise when things are not going well. The work we do also provides self-help strategies so that they take responsibility for their own wellbeing and will know where to go to, should they need to seek further help.

WHS has a large pastoral structure of teachers and associate staff who focus on welfare, mental health, safeguarding and progress in lessons. We have an engagement team which works with groups of pupils and individuals to support their needs. The Open Minds Group supports any pupils who feel they are in a minority this has been particularly effective in supporting LGBTQ+ pupils.

In addition to our pastoral team, a number of staff have been trained in Mental Health First Aid. These Wellbeing Champions are identified through wearing green ribbon badges should students need to talk and find support. Furthermore, some of our Sixth Form students are trained as Mental Health Ambassadors and support the younger children on Wellbeing Wednesdays.

Staff focus on disadvantaged pupils and build strong relationships with the pupils and their families. The school works closely with CAMHS, third sector organisations and families.

For staff, there have been big shifts in culture too, with more consultation and a focus on reducing workload, which has had a significantly positive impact on wellbeing. A new appraisal system is being implemented which includes a focus on staff personal development linked to their wellbeing.

The school’s Ofsted report, which was published recently, makes several references to the impact of its mental health work, including:

“The guidance and support provided for pupils, particularly for their emotional health and well-being, are of the highest quality.”

“Leaders make strong and effective links with external organisations to provide tailored support for pupils with SEND. This is particularly true for pupils with mental health concerns.”

“Leaders work closely with a wide range of external agencies to raise pupils’ awareness of issues such as mental wellbeing…”

Established by Leeds Beckett University and social enterprise Minds Ahead, the mental health quality kite mark recognises schools that ensure the wellbeing of pupils and staff. The award ensures schools are using evidence-based approaches that align to professional and government guidelines. Utilising a developmental framework, which allows schools to evaluate current mental health practices, identify gaps, develop and strengthen these and work towards building an emotionally healthier environment. Through this process, schools commit to making mental health a strategic priority and developing a positive culture that promotes mental wellbeing for everyone.

Mr McPartlan was presented with the award at the Carnegie Centre of Excellence Knowledge Exchange Annual Conference in Birmingham on 6th July.


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