A Wessex school which has a zero exclusions policy has been named a School of Excellence for mental health.
Wessex Lodge School has 48 students, aged from 8 to 18, and is based at Frome with a farm and outdoor learning site at nearby Maiden Bradley, near Warminster. It is owned by Outcomes First. The school has been named as a School of Excellence after going through a rigorous assessment process with Thrive, an organisation which trains teachers and other education professionals to support the social and emotional development of children and young people.
“We are so proud to be a School of Excellence for mental wellbeing. Building strong relationships between our staff and students is the foundation of what we do and Thrive is a fundamental part of that, along with our Thrive Lead Rebecca Miller. Our students have had a bad experience of education before they came here and our starting point is helping them to be calm so that they can stay in school and re-engage with education,” said Headteacher Kate Stradling.
Wessex Lodge students have high levels of social, emotional and mental health need and may have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Global Development Delay. As well as taking GCSE and BTEC qualifications, students can learn a range of land management, equine and health and beauty skills. The school has a zero exclusions policy and staff are proud that no student leaves without having the skills to go onto further study, an apprenticeship or a job.
The School of Excellence award recognises extraordinary schools which are making a positive impact on their pupils, and on the wider community, by prioritising emotional wellbeing. The award is the highest level of achievement in Thrive’s Ambassador Schools scheme, which was launched in 2020 as a way of recognising excellence in member schools. There are five areas in which schools can evidence how they use Thrive to support young people’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 evidence and impact application form, the school was visited by Thrive staff to observe and assess the way that teachers and other staff implement the Thrive Approach® to help build emotional resilience — so they students can better manage the ups and downs of life and be more open to learning.
'A trusting and nurturing environment'
“Wessex Lodge is an inspirational setting that has truly embraced the Thrive Approach to develop young people’s skills to help them to engage with life and learning. All staff have built rich relationships with their students which are woven throughout the school day to create a trusting and nurturing environment. Their School of Excellence achievement is very well-deserved,” said Eva-Marie Ford, Thrive’s Relationship Manager and Trainer for Wales and the South West.