20th May 2019 — The start of the Summer Term saw Cobham Hall take an exciting leap forward with their Wellbeing initiatives, by hosting a Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference. Entitled ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Essential Toolkit for Schools’, the conference was attended by delegates from approximately 20 local state and independent Primary and Secondary Schools.
Speakers included Professor Jonathan Glazzard, who currently leads on leads on research for The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, and Andrew Hampton of Girls on Board, an initiative shortlisted for a TES Wellbeing Award. A key aspect of this event was that not only is it important to understand pupil mental health and wellbeing, but that it was equally important to maintain and promote wellbeing for staff.
The conference was the School’s latest step in sharing and promoting best practice ideas amongst the wider community, following the creation of a regional network of more than 30 local schools. The network meets regularly and a ‘Buddy Scheme’ provides additional support between meetings.
The sharing of best practice follows exciting internal developments in the Spring Term, which saw students given the opportunity to volunteer for a more active role. “We’ve long recognised that sometimes, girls would prefer to talk to one another,” explained Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead, Miss Fenice, “and that’s why our Peer Mentor system worked so well. However, we also recognise that with the right support and training, girls can be wonderful advocates for each other, and may often spot girls who need support before staff. We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure. By giving girls the tools to spot mental health issues, they will be better able to help themselves or their friends before those issues become more serious, whether that’s now or in the future.”
Miss Fenice organised a day’s training with David Gumbrell of Teach Well Alliance. 30 girls from Year 7 to Year 12 volunteered for the training to become Wellbeing Student Ambassadors. Following the great success of this, Miss Fenice invited local schools to join Cobham Hall for a day’s Anti-Bullying Training with The Diana Award. Approximately 130 students from other schools joined a number for Cobham Hall girls for the day, which involved understanding what bullying is, and how to tackle it. The students ended the day by creating an action plan to promote harmony and reduce bullying in their schools. Students will now be encouraged to put the training to work, by supporting their peers and bringing any issues to the attention of staff.
In addition, Miss Fenice, who was the first in the country to receive training from ‘Girls on Board’, implemented this initiative in school. ‘Girls on Board’ aims to empower girls to manage their relationships with one another and solve their own friendships problems. To supplement the roll out of the programme with particular Year Groups, Miss Fenice hosted a ‘Four Week Focus on Friendship’; a series of workshops held in the School’s Wellbeing Centre looking at ways to mend fences after a fall out, considering the impact of things shared online, resisting peer pressure, how to forgive, and how to rebuild trust, amongst other topics.
All of these initiatives took place around additional sessions designed to promote good mental wellbeing, including ‘Time to Talk’, ‘Mindful Mondays’, a workshop with the Self-Esteem Team, who support the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and several staff events including Yoga and ‘Tea and Talk’ sessions.