A specialist setting has become the first in Kent to be named a Thrive School of Excellence for the role it plays in supporting the wellbeing of its pupils in order to help prevent mental health issues.
Heath Farm School, in Ashford, was named as a School of Excellence after going through a rigorous assessment process by Thrive®, an organisation which trains teachers and other education professionals to support the social and emotional development of children and young people. 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.
Heath Farm School is a special independent school and has 103 pupils, aged from five to 18. Some have Autism Spectrum Disorder, while others have emotional and behavioural difficulties or have experienced trauma. In addition to creating the best possible environment to help children feel calm and ready to learn, the school also runs Thrive courses for parents and carers; these help families support children's mental and emotional health at home.
Thrive Lead Practitioner Nina Jones said: "Everyone here was very proud when we found out we were a School of Excellence. There's a lot of hard work that takes place here behind the scenes and it's been lovely to have that acknowledged. Since Thrive was introduced to the school we have found that attendance levels have gone up, children are accessing their education more and are engaging in lessons better. They are leaving the school with more prospects and our GCSE and accreditation grades are higher than they used to be."
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 evidence and impact 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.
"Heath Farm is a school that has put the mental wellbeing of its pupils at the heart of everything it does. Staff there have worked incredibly hard to embed the Thrive Approach and to create a culture of wellbeing that means pupils feel calm, emotionally-regulated and ready to learn," said Lee Prichard, Thrive's Head of UK Development.
Over to you
Are you leading the way in developing happy, emotionally-resilient children or young people? Are you feeling the impact of embedding the Thrive Approach throughout your setting? You too may be eligible for Thrive Ambassador School status. Click here to find out how to apply.
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