A Lowestoft 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 in order to prevent mental health issues.
Red Oak Primary School, in Southwell Road, has been named as an Ambassador School with Excellence in the Environment and Excellence in Leadership 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 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 wellbeing 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.
Red Oak Primary School has 470 pupils and has seen its attendance rate improve from 96.5 per cent to 98.5 per cent with no permanent exclusions in the last four years. It has also seen parental engagement make huge improvements from a parents’ evening eight years ago when just two parents turned up to parents’ evenings now where more than 90 per cent of parents participate.
Headteacher Heather Madsen said: “We are really excited to have been named as a Thrive Ambassador School and it’s something that all of our staff have worked hard to achieve. As a school we’re committed to the mental health and wellbeing of our pupils, our staff and the community we serve because we know that if our children don’t have their social and emotional needs met then they won’t be ready to learn and access the curriculum. We are really gratified to see the direct impact Thrive has had on attendance, and also the huge improvement in relationships with the pupils’ parents and carers.”
Some of the pupils also fed back on the impact Thrive has had for them: A Year Six pupil said: “The Thrive staff are special people who understood me. They helped me to learn.”
A Year Five pupil said: “In Thrive sessions we play games and it is calm and fun. My adult used to help me when I was upset in Reception and she still helps me in Year Five.”
A Year Three pupil said: “Thrive always made me feel happy. I don’t need to go to my sessions anymore but when I see my adult in the corridor they still make me smile.”
The Thrive Ambassador Schools scheme has been launched as a way of recognising excellence in member schools. There are five areas in which schools can evidence how they use the Thrive Approach® to 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, in line with 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.
“Red Oak Primary is a fantastic example of a school that has really embedded the Thrive Approach and put mental wellbeing at the heart of everything they do. All of the staff have worked hard and richly deserve this Ambassador School status and it’s inspiring to reflect on how much has changed at the school over the last few years. In particular, zero exclusions for several years now and the leap in the school’s engagement with parents,” said Mel Fisher, Thrive Relationship Manager for the East.