Pastoral & Behaviour Support
Pastoral and Behaviour Support
For the past three years we have taken a holistic approach to interventions with our students, ensuring we support all students in line with our core values. Below is a summary of this approach, which is also best on evidence-based practice and support by academic research.
Leadership and Strategy
At Penistone we have adopted a senior lead for mental health for students and they have just completed an MA in School Leadership in Mental Health and Wellbeing. The named Governor is met with on a regular basis to discuss pastoral and behaviour initiatives, issues and support. The Governors have been incredibly supportive in putting positive intervention strategies at the forefront at Penistone - two of the Governors are trained counsellors. They actively support the school, holding behaviour panels which support in changing behaviours and attendance panels to improve engagement.
An update on inclusion initiatives is presented at the Governors which covers the current provision, the number and type of issues the students, staff and school are facing. The Foundation Governors have provided financial support to help support students pastoral needs; helping fund a member of staff to become a full trained counsellor (via Leeds Beckett); training staff and student wellbeing ambassadors and to employ an art therapist. We consult with staff, students and parents throughout the year to understand their needs around pastoral and behaviour interventions.
We have developed a clear organisational structure which supports student wellbeing and behaviour which breaks down support into waves; universal, targeted and specific. The first stage is universal intervention. Wells et al.. observed that the biggest impact on student wellbeing can be achieved by embedding a culture of support across a school which aims to promote mental health rather than prevent mental illness (Wells et al.., 2003). Wave one, or universal, intervention at Penistone therefore is provided by Achievement Mentors in a morning and classroom teachers. Mentors are kept up to date with concerns over students within their mentor group and provide a positive and supportive start to the day. Teachers of individual students (and Mentors) are met with after briefing on a Tuesday to update them on developments with students and they then tailor their in-class support. They drive a supportive and open culture which Mackenzie and Williams denote is essential to supporting students’ wellbeing (Mackenzie and Williams, 2018).
Wave two, or targeted, intervention comes from the Student Support Officer/Achievement Lead. All of our Student Support Officers are trained in counselling skills and mentoring. They deliver mentor sessions on issues ranging from anger management to coping with anxiety. They may put a student who is struggling with their behaviour on support, hold parental meetings, work with the SENDCO on an necessary assessments or involve external agencies. Elfer et al.. (2012) noted the importance of having a ‘key person’ to support students who is outside of universal intervention, someone they can talk to and who can become their champion.
Wave three intervention, or specific intervention, comes through our Head of Pastoral Care, Head of Behaviour, SENCO and Head of Attendance who provide specific interventions. They use a range of supportive strategies, in particular around supporting high risk categories (LAC, LGBT+ students). Around behaviour, pastoral care and attendance we have individual pathways to support students, using the best evidence-based practice available.
Staff Professional Development and Learning
All of the Inclusion Team are trained in Mental Health First Aid and all of the Student Support Officers and the Head of Pastoral Care are trained in counselling and mentoring skills. The Lead Student Support Officer is undertaking an MA in Interpersonal and Counselling Skills. We provide training to staff around mental health - we run a twilight session where external agencies, such as Barnsley Substance and Misuse Service, ChilliPep and MindSpace run a carousel of training. We are also training Staff Wellbeing Ambassadors, not just from our school but from six of our feeder primary schools. This is a new yearly programme training 50 staff to date. As part of our safeguarding training (which we do at the start of the school year and then regular updates throughout the year at briefings, insets and twilights) we discuss with staff how they support students around cyberbullying and the impact which social media can have on our wellbeing.
Support for Pupils
Our students are emotionally aware and can ask for help and support and the open-door policy of the Inclusion Team supports this. Our student committees directly feed into decisions which we make to support our students, and this goes right the way through to our Post 16 Student Leadership Team. We have a number of mechanisms for reporting bullying, both via our VLE and in person. We have anti-bullying advocates who have been specifically trained in how to support students around bullying (they have a different coloured lanyard to everyone else and so are easily identifiable to students and parents). We have a bullying tracker which records bullying incidents and allows SLT to quality assure the actions which have taken place. Staff make a phone call home within 2 weeks of an incident to check that it has been resolved.
We do not have a behaviour system at Penistone but rather we have a rewards system. Students access reward events such as a fairground which comes into school or a visit to Xscape at Easter. Individual and group successes are celebrated at assemblies and we have events every year where we invite parents into school to celebrate with us. For students who require additional support we have Individual Support Plans. This follows an assess/plan/do/review model and allows us to put in wellbeing support and assess impact. These ISP's are discussed at the weekly referral meeting and there is a review conference once a term.
Working with Parents
The organisation Mentally Healthy Schools advocates that working with parents and carers is one of the most important protective factors in supporting positive mental wellbeing of students (Mentally Healthy Schools, 2018). We have a very positive relationship with parents and the wider school community. We have an extensive survey which goes out to parents every year. From this survey we develop an action plan which we then act upon. As a senior leadership team, we then act upon this throughout the year. We run parent meetings and working parties to involve parents in our school community. We run parenting support classes called 'Talking Teens' which help support the relationship between parents and students. We also work with TADS to support students and parents’ relationships. We involve parents in supporting their sons/daughters with their mental health/behaviour and involve them at all levels. We discuss with them any intervention, such as mentoring, which we do with them and naturally involve them in any counselling or referrals to external agencies. Through Early Help Assessments we provide support to students and their families and the TAF meetings coordinate the interventions cooperatively with the parents. Individual Support Plans are also produced in conjunction with the parents and there is a parent voice section which goes home for them to complete. We keep parents informed about the progress and effort of their sons/daughters and encourage meetings/support when necessary. We have signposted a number of parents for support around their own mental health.
We have a Head of Pastoral Care who coordinates and gatekeeps the support for our students. She is highly experienced, trained in mentoring and counselling and was regional commissioner in the girl guides. By having one person with responsibility for this it means we build up strong relationships with external agencies, the internal processes can be quality assured, and the referrals are of the highest quality ensuring consistency and therefore the best support for our young people. The Head of Pastoral Care constantly assesses the impact of these external agencies and where necessary stops using or brings in new agencies. We are incredibly fortunate to work with MindSpace, which comes into school twice a week to run individual and group sessions with students around their mental wellbeing. This service is invaluable; they provide us with advice, can work with students at a lower level to stop mental health issues escalating, can undertake assessments and can refer into CAMHS or other agencies. This is an action point in the governments green paper and it has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of targeted students. We also work with a range of external agencies who come into school including Family Support Workers, Social Workers, the Family Intervention Service, Barnsley Substance Misuse Service (who come in a day a week), SYEDA (a worker comes in once a month). We work with around 25 external agencies and are constantly seeking other support structures to work with our young people.
Gold Award – Mental Health
We were delighted to be awarded in 2020 the Gold Award for Mental Wellbeing Support from Leeds Beckett University. The is the highest award possible and we were one of the first secondary schools in the country to receive it. Below is the report which accompanied the award:
Penistone Grammar School has presented a detailed and extensive profile of evidence. The school has used the framework and content of the Award to very good effect to develop their mental health and wellbeing strategies, structures and practices from a strong starting point. It is clear the culture of the school coming from the top. The Principal talks explicitly about the pupils being “happy, content and better people” when they leave Penistone and clearly lives and breathes the school. The staff body and the whole community have embraced this. The school is “not an exam factory” and genuinely cares about its young people.
The mental health and wellbeing of the pupils is addressed on every level. The mental health designated Governor is strongly focused on the impact of all the work that occurs which has given an additional focus to the leaders on what they are doing, its impact and what to stop doing. The mental health lead is studying for a Master’s degree in mental health which has sharpened the focus on ensuring that everything that is in place in the school is evidence-based. The Head of Pastoral Care gate keeps the work that the school engages with in over 25 external agencies. Referrals for high level of need are a “really high standard” and there is a range of early intervention in school which pupils can access quickly. Having carried out research about the impact of art therapy, the trial took place which was shown to have impact so has now been rolled out. Pupils are benefiting as a result.
Staff have embraced the opportunities to be trained as Wellbeing Ambassadors. Twenty-Five staff were trained in the last year and there has been a high number of applications for training for this role recently.
All leaders, including governors, have embraced the opportunity to move forward with the wellbeing agenda. The SLT mental health lead is required to present data around waiting times, access to external services and other indicators around the mental health provision for the pupils at regular governing body meeting. This level of scrutiny is well appreciated by the school leaders. The foundation governors have supported the school through financing which has enabled additional staff with a mental health focus to be employed and to access additional external provision. The School Mental Health Award framework has given a direction for the school in knowing what needed to be covered and the senior leadership team have reviewed provision so that there is a rolling programme of improvement year on year.
The school mental health lead plays a significant role in supporting mental health across the local authority. As well as attending the Fair Access Board, he has helped set up and chair the Early Intervention Panel. This was set up to address needs such as attachment issues and to support other schools within the authority to develop their internal provision. All secondary schools, CAMHS, MindSpace and other agencies such as social care and YOT meet monthly to ask for support around particular pupils. This early intervention is designed to share best practice and ensure that pupils are supported as quickly as possible.
The school’s staff wellbeing ambassador program of three training sessions has been taken up by around 15 staff from nine primary schools within their local pyramid. The school lead has also delivered whole staff training in two primary schools. In addition, he has shared good practice to the schools within their pyramid at a roundtable event. Work with the principal of a primary school has helped that school to shape their staff wellbeing policy. The school lead was invited to join the Expert Research Group on mental health. This was a national joint venture between the DfE and the NHS. Penistone was one of two secondary schools and one primary school that were invited to join representatives from the DfE, the NHS, such as doctors and nurses, and external agencies including CAMHS in this group.
Due to the wide range of influence and contributions that the school is making to the mental health and wellbeing agenda within the region and nationally, I have no hesitation in recommending that Penistone Grammar School is awarded the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools School Mental Health Award at Gold level.