St Eanswythe’s

How did you become involved?

I first met the HeadStart leads from St Eanswythe’s primary school in October 2018.

The school’s story

St Eanswythe’s primary school have utilised HeadStart to develop their existing good practice around resilience, emotional wellbeing and peer support within the school.

For example, the school matches every Year 5 pupil to a Reception pupil, which carries on into Year 6 and Year 1. This means that the buddied children have learnt what it means to be a buddy when their turn comes. Buddies spend a lot of time together, through buddy reading, buddy assemblies and buddy trips. They are school role models.

This system already worked well, however identified Year 5 pupils were also chosen to receive HeadStart Peer Mentoring training to operate at play times and lunch times. This ensures all children can access a Mentor and develops healthy relationships and conflict management during play/lunch times. In addition, the school mixes year groups on their creative days so children of different ages learn to work together.

The school has developed 3 Safe Spaces – the first being the school therapy dog, Tiki, to reduce pupil stress, improve self-esteem and concentration. An indoor games club as an alternative to the playground has also been developed, for pupils who are feeling vulnerable or find playtimes difficult. An outdoor Safe Space is also being developed, including a seating area and plants, for pupils to access.

School staff have benefited from training, including Youth Mental Health First Aid 2-day training and FRIENDS resilience training. Lead staff will be establishing a space for Mindfulness practice for all pupils and staff within the daily curriculum. The school has made use of the HeadStart Resilience Conversation tool and has been referring children to adult mentoring, transition support and talents and interests grants.

The school also has, in conjunction with another HeadStart primary school, begun parent resilience workshops, to equip parents with the skills that they need to help their children develop resilience, such as; e-safety workshops and surgeries, financial help (universal credit advice), cookery classes, how to talk about puberty with your children and literacy and numeracy workshops.

The school has a comprehensive team of staff available to support pupils, with ambitions to develop resilience building for pupils, families and staff, which has been enhanced through training opportunities and HeadStart tools. They employ both a CLO and a FLO one to emotionally support children the other to do the same for their families. This provision has been enhanced by the staff training that has been made available through the HeadStart provision.

Children are encouraged to develop their talents and interests and school support children by paying for clubs and individual music lessons and singing lessons, this has been enhanced by the Talents and Interests grant enabling them to increase the numbers of pupils who are able to access specialist support for their talents.

What concerns did the school have?

Concerned about the length of time it had taken for them to receive their grant funding. Concerns over mixed messages given to the school initially and breakdown of communication due to internal HeadStart staffing issues. Concerns over paperwork and form filling.

How did you address the concerns?

Worked closely with the school so they felt confident to develop an action plan and work through the resilience toolkit. Reassured the school that upon receiving a draft action plan and signed contracts, their grant funding would be transferred to them. Kept the school up to date with this transfer, which took place before the end of financial year 18/19. Clarified the HSK offer to the school and ensured they knew I was their contact for any queries.

What were the challenges?

The school found it challenging initially to create an action plan to complement the existing wellbeing work that they had going on already in the school.

How did you address them?

Working closely together with the school helped them to see what else they could achieve and develop, and the school also worked alongside another HeadStart Primary which helped them to maximise the opportunities for their pupils.

What were the successes?

  • Trained the school in receiving DI emails ASAP.
  • Trained year 5s as peer mentors.
  • General relationship with the school has been a success in terms of answering any queries and communicating with them.

What actions did you take to ensure sustainability?

Ensured the school was aware of any further staff training opportunities, which they took up.

The school’s action plan and finance plan consisted of sustainable plans such as training peer mentors, developing their safe spaces, parent resilience programmes, joint transition projects with other HSK schools etc.

Comments from the school

We have been pleased to be a HeadStart school. HeadStart have offered practical solutions and given children opportunities to develop themselves. Often low self-esteem is caused/accentuated by not being able to achieve academically so to be able to develop talents and interests is a life enhancing intervention.

The resilience conversations were mixed. One child really opened up with the questions whereas another was suspicious of them. HeadStart were flexible and allowed us to find other ways.

We are pleased that there is transition work and that there will be cross phase work as this is so often where it goes wrong with our vulnerable pupils.