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Posted on Nov 30 2021 by Fiona Bailey

One of the first schools to sign up to the St Andrew's Mental Wellness Programme has received its accreditation for its commitment to the issue.

For the last 18 months staff from the St Andrew's College have been working with Hardingstone Academy providing them with training and ideas for whole school mental health strategies and practice. 

This culminated in an assessment day with the school, including interviews with pupils, as well as gaining evidence through photographs and information about the systems, activities, and procedures the school has in place to create a culture that is positive around mental health.

Originally launched as the Quality Mark Programme, the initiative has been rebranded and is now called LightBulb. Suitable for both primary and secondary schools, it provides a ready-made framework for schools so those that participate can demonstrate and showcase excellence regarding mental health practice to regulatory bodies such as Ofsted.

Once signed up, Hardingstone Academy received mental health awareness and support training for all school staff as well as sessions for both parents and students. Each session involved talking about symptoms, support and signposting resources.

The assessment day report found that:

  • Pupils said that their school couldn’t be any better. They knew who to speak to for help and could discuss the school’s core values.
  • There is a commitment to ensuring that all pupils have their needs met fully from an equality and diversity perspective, a learning and behaviour perspective, and a wellbeing and support perspective.
  • Targeted support is in place for pupils who need it, and interventions meet the needs of each child.
  • The curriculum is appropriately focused on the development of resilience, wellbeing and safety and includes various approaches towards supporting children to feel safe and supported.
  • School leaders and governors ensure there is a developing culture of positive mental health for pupils.

Hardingstone's headteacher Julie Stevens said: “We are very pleased to have achieved this accreditation and for the excellent feedback received following the assessment day.

“We have been really focussing on staff training, to make sure they are able to support pupils in the right way and promote good mental wellbeing for the entire school community.  We will be continuing this good work, and will be learning and raise awareness of mental health throughout this academic year.”

Cheryl Smith, Headteacher of the St Andrew’s College and LightBulb founder, said: “As a team, we wanted to find a way to target young people and try and equip them with the skills they need to be resilient and seek help about mental health issues, hopefully reducing the distress they experience and positively impacting the outcomes they experience. We believe early intervention is essential and can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of those children who are experiencing mental health issues.

“LightBulb is not just about helping children, parents and teachers to recognise the signs early, it’s also about creating a culture of positive mental health which is driven by school leaders and embedded in practice.

“We firmly believe that this approach could significantly reduce the number of children who go on to develop complex mental health problems, but will also encourage their development of resilience, coping skills and self-help skills which are vital for overall development.”

For more information about LightBulb, click here or email LightBulb@standrew.co.uk