Monday’s Prep assembly focused on the importance of loneliness with regards to mental wellbeing as Rydal Penrhos joined thousands of schools across the UK in recognising children’s charity Place2Be’s week-long event.
At Rydal Penrhos we appreciate the central importance of good mental health in a pupil’s educational journey. In order for children to thrive in all parts of school life and achieve the extraordinary exam outcomes that Rydal Penrhos have enjoyed over recent years, a strong support system is needed; one which equips children with the right toolset to tackle the difficulties and challenges that may arise growing up in modern life.
Events such as Children’s Mental Health Week can provide an excellent accompaniment to Rydal Penrhos’ day-to-day focus on pupil’s mental wellbeing, drawing attention to an important topic that can sometimes be difficult to discuss. The number of children with mental health issues has been a growing point of concern over the last decade; according to Place2Be, up to 78% of the children they support have experienced anxiety in social situations. With that in mind, it is important to providing a platform to discuss the key issues; in the Prep, there is no platform quite like a morning assembly.
Prep pupils lead ‘Let’s Connect’ assembly for their peers
Year 6 pupil Alexandra Lopez Moreno, Mental Health and Wellbeing Champion, led her team of anti-bullying ambassadors as they presented an assembly on the theme of ‘Let’s Connect’. The pupils asked their younger peers questions about loneliness and how we can help to prevent it. The presenting team devised their assembly independently with inspiration from the Place2Be website, as they encouraged their young audience to ponder important questions like ‘What does connecting with others mean to you?’ and ‘Who have you already connected with today? How did you connect?’
As part of the assembly, the team also shared the poem ‘Together’ by Matt Goodfellow, a primary-school teacher turned children’s poet who delivers inspiring and high-energy verse. The poem touched upon a number of key themes of the assembly and Children’s Mental Health Week at large, such as the idea that ‘together we clap and cheer […] and face the things we fear’.
Overall, it was an exceptionally mature and well-researched assembly from Alexandra and her team; Rydal Penrhos would like to thank and congratulate them for successfully communicating the importance of this vital subject.
Placing emotional security at the heart of school life
Already a leader in pastoral support, Rydal Penrhos has placed an increased emphasis on pupil wellbeing since the Covid-19 pandemic, which proved an unprecedented challenge for children, young people and parents across the country. During the crisis, Rydal Penrhos were quick to establish continuity measures to ensure that children still felt connected to their teachers, classmates and the school community despite remote learning.
The school’s maintains an effective mental health first aid process that is widely communicated to children and young people of all age groups throughout school. Several members of Rydal Penrhos’ staff are fully qualified Mental Health First Aiders, meaning that they can provide a first point of contact for pupils should any child be dealing with issues of mental health including depression, anxiety and psychosis. Furthermore, a select number of staff in Prep and Senior are fully qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistants, or ELSAs.
While Mental Health First Aiders and ELSAs can have a hugely beneficial effect, Rydal Penrhos’ mental health support measures are structured with an awareness that neither can substitute for professional mental health aid when more complex psychological support is needed. As such, the school can look to arrange third-party support where required and will always pass on concerns to the relevant authorities when a child’s wellbeing is deemed to be at risk.
Through a combination of day-to-day measures such as our mental health support structure and special events like Children’s Mental Health Week, Rydal Penrhos can ensure its pupils are well informed and supported when it comes to this critical topic.