A Powys primary school has been named as a Thrive® Ambassador School with two areas of expertise for the role it plays in supporting the wellbeing of its pupils, helping to prevent mental health issues arising in the future.
Maesyrhandir County Primary School, in Newtown, which has 121 pupils, has been named as an Ambassador School with Excellence in the Environment and Leadership after going through a rigorous assessment process with Thrive, an organisation which trains teachers and other education professionals to support the emotional and social development of children and young people.
The Environment award recognises extraordinary schools which are making a positive impact on their pupils and on the wider community, by having a focus on emotional health and creating an environment in which children’s wellbeing thrives. The Leadership award recognises extraordinary schools where senior management and governors have prioritised mental wellbeing, recognising that this is the foundation for successful learning and life skills such as resilience that will equip children, staff and the wider community with the ability to cope with life’s ups and downs.
The school has embedded a culture of mental wellbeing, with all children regularly assessed to make sure that they are emotionally steady and ready to learn. Children that are found to need additional support are given regular Thrive sessions to help them to feel safe, secure and better able to express their emotions. Teaching staff greet each child as they come into the classroom, every day, checking in with them to see how they are and seeking to gain an understanding of why they may be behaving differently or struggling to learn.
Assistant Headteacher and Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator Caroline Bufton said: “Thrive has allowed us to put the building blocks of support in place for children who maybe struggling to access their learning. It’s something everyone at the school is incredibly passionate about. As a result, our exclusion rate has dropped dramatically and the amount of children moving to specialist behaviour provision has also fallen. Gaining Ambassador status is a validation of all of the hard work that everyone in the school has put into getting this status.”
As for the children themselves, they are enthusiastic about Thrive and the relationships and benefits it has brought them. “Thrive helps me to express my feelings,” said one Year Six pupil.
“Thrive helps me feel like I can talk about my feelings and it makes me feel calm,” said another.
Thrive’s Ambassador Schools scheme was launched as a way of recognising excellence in the way schools use Thrive to promote positive mental wellbeing. There are five areas in which a school can evidence how they support children’s social and emotional development: Environment, Leadership, Right-time, Reparative and Relationship, with a special Ambassador School of Excellence Award 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 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.
“Maesyrhandir County Primary School is a school with a deep-rooted commitment to the wellbeing of its pupils and a pro-active approach to realising this vision. Staff have worked hard to put positive mental health at the heart of school life and their efforts are making a real difference in their lives of their pupils,” said Lee Prichard, Thrive’s Head of UK Regional Development.