A Penzance primary school has been named as the first Thrive School of Excellence in England for the role it plays in supporting the wellbeing of its pupils in order to prevent mental health issues.
Gulval School has been named as a School of Excellence after going through a rigorous assessment process by Thrive®, which trains teachers and other education professionals to support the emotional and social development of all children. The award recognises extraordinary schools which are making a positive impact on their pupils, and on the wider community, by prioritising emotional wellbeing and creating an environment in which children’s wellbeing thrives.
The school has embedded the Thrive Approach® in all aspects of the pupils’ day to prioritise mental wellbeing so that children are ready and able to learn. Initiatives include establishing a school farm with vegetable growing, chickens and goats and having a school dog, to encourage children to try out different activities such as caring for animals and selling vegetables grown on site at a special pop-up shop.
“I’m absolutely delighted to hear that we have been named the first Thrive Ambassador School of Excellence in England, it’s a real honour and a credit to the whole staff team. This is a journey we have worked so passionately towards for many years now and to get this external recognition for what we are doing is just fantastic for all of our staff, pupils and parents,” said Headteacher Paul Baker.
“We’ve put the Thrive Approach at the heart of everything we do at Gulval School, it really has made a huge difference to our children and families. Attendance has increased and we’ve been able to directly support children who may feel anxious about the events of this last year. We are passionate that all children should feel a deep sense of belonging, that they are valued and feel special. One way we achieve this is through our responsibility program where children, among other roles, can take responsibility for our animals here in school. We also provide a curriculum based on adventure too – last year 10 children aged between six and 11 beamed from ear-to-ear as they stood on the summit of Snowdon in gale force wind and driving rain, an expedition I was so proud to lead.
“The really key thing for us has been understanding that children’s behaviour is a communication, we have been able to provide bespoke support to help children understand and manage their own emotions and to remove any barriers to learning they may have.”
The School of Excellence award is the highest level of achievement in Thrive’s Ambassador Schools scheme, which was launched last year as a way of recognising excellence in member schools. There are five areas in which schools can evidence how they use Thrive to support children’s social and emotional development: Environment, Leadership, Right-time, Reparative and Relationship, with the School of Excellence award reserved for schools that achieve the highest standard across all five categories.
As well as submitting an in-depth application form, the school was visited by Thrive staff, when allowed under coronavirus restrictions, to observe and assess the way that teachers and other staff implement the Thrive Approach® to help build the emotional resilience of children, so that they can better manage the ups and downs of life and be more open to learning.
“Gulval has done a fantastic job in embedding the Thrive Approach across the whole school. All staff have a great understanding of the Approach and are able to play their part in bringing it into lessons across the school day. Gulval has changed things not just for its pupils, but also the wider community, and has been a powerful force for raising aspirations and bringing people together. The school really deserves to be recognised in this way,” said Rose Webb, Thrive’s South West Relationship Manager.