Being Healthy: Inside and Out
Ensuring our students and staff are healthy inside and out is an important aspiration of AIM Academies Trust and one we work hard to deliver. This year National Children’s Mental Health Week has focused upon ‘Being Healthy: Inside and Out’ and after years of working in partnership with Place2Be we are proud of the range of initiatives, services and partnerships provided.
Over the last year Deansbrook Junior School have undertaken a Mindfulness project. The school worked with an inspiring consultant, Philip Davies to bring mindfulness techniques into the school. Throughout the project Philip worked with staff and students to establish healthy habits of mind with techniques such as looking at the importance of switching from ‘doing mode’ to ‘being mode’ in the mind. The project has provided real benefit to staff and students alike helping them identify techniques to help them in an increasingly busy world.
London Academy have continued to work hard to ensure that students are supported through a wide range of techniques. One such technique is Place2Talk. This is a lunchtime service and provides a quiet, safe environment to talk and play during the busy school day which is open to all students through self-referral. We have found this scheme helps children understand Place2Be and the role it plays, which helps to breakdown potential barriers to some students engaging in the scheme. It has also allowed Place2Be to identify children who need more in-depth support such as one to one counselling. Over 400 children used this service at London Academy last year.
Other techniques are focused upon small groups of students with specific needs, and initiatives such as ‘Strength in Horses’ have allowed counsellors and staff to engage with students on a very different level to programmes such as Place2Talk.
Ensuring that staff have the right training and understanding to help and support students is also a critical factor in ensuring students feel valued and reassured. As such the AIM Alliance has ensured that not only the Trust schools but also other schools within the Barnet area have benefitted from additional training. In November, a taster day for Level 2 children’s counsellor training was held at London Academy with two thirds of participates seeking to gain further formal training. In October, 12 members of AIM Alliance schools’ staff from across North London undertook the Mental Health Champions – Senior Leaders course sponsored by the Mayor of London. One teacher having attended the course commented ‘I found the course really useful. I am enjoying developing a Mental Health Policy for our school and chatting to colleagues to find out how they support mental health issues within their schools.’
A community course also ran as part of the National Mental Health First Aid course programme being sponsored by the government. During this course they learnt skills and developed the confidence to spot the signs of mental health issues in a young person, how to offer first aid and guide the student towards the support they need.
The issues and challenges faced by our communities are becoming increasingly complex and it is important that as a Trust we endeavour to ensure we provide the highest quality support and advice to our students, staff, parents and colleagues.