St. Anthony’s School: developing a whole school approach

The school’s story

St Anthony’s is one of five Behaviour & Learning Schools in Kent. The Behaviour and Learning schools cater for pupils who have significant learning difficulties along with Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties.

At the start of our journey we reflected on the work we do linked to mental health and additional support we put in place for our pupils. As every single pupil has special educational needs (SEN) they are therefore at a higher risk of developing mental health difficulties now and in the future.

Research has shown that staff working with children with mental health difficulties experience higher stress levels and therefore at higher risk of developing mental health difficulties themselves, we have always tried to support staff wellbeing the best that we could.

What has the school introduced?

Welfare Forms and Resilience Conversations

Safeguarding at St. Anthony’s has always been at the forefront of our work, supporting families during difficult circumstances. Due to high demand in the local area the threshold for social services and early help is very high and many of our families do not get the support they desperately need. We introduced a Welfare Concern Form so that staff could report concerns they knew would not meet the safeguarding threshold and were more around welfare.

Using this form now leads to staff doing a resilience conversation to see if further support could be put in place for the pupil. An example of this, staff handed a Welfare concern in from a year 5 pupil with Autism which reported she was worried about her elder brother, this led to a resilience conversation which identified her mood was low because she could not communicate with her younger sibling who could only communicate through sign language; we could then help with this.

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentoring training was put in place and we trained 14 peer mentors between ages 10-16, pupils were asked to volunteer for this role and we were encouraged by the children that put themselves forward for it. Peer mentoring is established now and working well. Mentors have supported other pupils with confidence, friendship issues and self-esteem.

Working with external agencies

We have made several successful referrals to both SALUS and Young Lives Foundation and this has meant that we have been able to access mentoring for some of our pupils. One example is a Mentor supporting one of our pupils by taking him out into the community to do activities he would not be doing otherwise; we have noticed a positive difference in the pupil’s mood. Pupils are happier and those that have had sessions in school leave with a smile on their face.

Talents and Interests Grants

Using the Talents and Interests Grant we have been able to access the following for some of our pupils; a BMX bike for a pupil who was unable to go to the local skate park, a travel pass to enable a pupil to attend a Youth Club, access to a local athletics club for a pupil with a real talent in running, lessons at a boxing club, plus taxi’s for the pupil to be able to get to the club. This pupil said how he felt it was great for his fitness, he had made friends which he couldn’t do at school, it had helped his confidence and is

something just for me.

Pay It Forward Grants

The Pay it Forward Grant has allowed one pupil the opportunity to do something for others which made her feel “inspired to help others”; she set up a Lego club for other pupils.

Staff training

We now have 14 staff trained in Mindfulness. We have been able to train 2 staff to deliver Yoga for children; this means we are now able to meet the social and emotional needs of our pupils. Feedback from pupils has included

are we doing yoga today with you? I love it.

I find it hard to relax but yoga makes me feel tired and stretchy.

The Kent Award

St Anthony’s School were presented with the Kent School Award for Resilience and Emotional Wellbeing in 2019.