Pupil Wellbeing Champions
In May 2021, Burlish Park Primary School established a task force of wellbeing champions to promote and encourage positive pupil wellbeing in the school.
A group of eight Year 6 pupils were specially trained to help create a mentally healthy school. They aim to promote positive mental health by providing peer-to-peer support, being good role models and listeners and building awareness of where to go for support.
Mr Lindley, Head of PE and My Life (PSHE), created the team of wellbeing champions as part of a pupil leadership programme. He approached pupils who demonstrated suitable qualities for the role, who then had to apply to be a member of the team.
When asked what makes a good champion the pupils said, “Kindness, empathy, patience and trust.”
The chosen champions undertook a two-hour training session delivered by the Wyre Forest School Sport Partnership. “We learnt what to look out for and what to do if someone was sad.”
Following on from their training, the champions’ first task was to create an action plan, to determine what they would aim to achieve over the year.
The champions introduced themselves to all pupils during a whole school assembly and explained their approach to supporting wellbeing.
The champions have initiated a variety of methods to be able to promote and support mental health and wellbeing, such as:
- creating a wellbeing display board in school,
- presenting on wellbeing issues during awareness assemblies,
- reintroducing buddy benches in the school playground,
- introducing ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ and ‘Mindful Monday’, lunchtime sessions for Year 3 and 4 children which provide an opportunity to be mindful,
- adding a worry box in each classroom, which enables adults to monitor concerns and then direct children to well-being support,
- setting up a worry library, containing helpful books on wellbeing and dealing with concerns.
The champions have been able to support pupils with worries over the pandemic and those worrying about Year 6 SATs. When asked what support they offer children worrying about tests, the champions said, “We tell them to try and not worry and to just try your best.” Where the children cannot offer support themselves, they refer to teachers.
Being a champion is a big commitment, however, the champions have enjoyed the responsibility, stating, “It’s really fun and we get to know the younger children.” Being a champion has taught them how to solve problems, “We’ve learnt that worries can be restricting and that it’s not good to sit and worry, it’s best to do something about it and speak to someone.”
The champions hold meetings once a month to review their actions and feedback any ideas to Mr Lindley.
When asked what impact the champions have had, Mr Lindley said, “The wellbeing champions have played a part in virtual assemblies and going forwards will help deliver live assemblies. They have made lots of younger pupils' lunchtimes more accessible by providing them with time to talk and colour in a quiet area of the playground. They have also implemented the buddy benches which have helped pupils who feel lonely at breaktime and lunchtime.”
Due to the success of the programme, The Rivers CofE Academy Trust has planned a trust-wide Mental Health Champion training course for Year 5 children from across the family of schools, to develop a new group of wellbeing champions at each school.
The champions are proud to be part of the pioneering wellbeing programme “Our school has set a good example by recognising that mental health is very important and has taken the wellbeing of pupils seriously.” Henry added, “It’s amazing to know we are the first group of wellbeing champions; we’ll go down in history like the people that founded the American constitution.”