It's Empathy Week! Reading is a wonderful way to walk in someone else's shoes at any time and we'll be highlighting some great books in our lovely library over the next few weeks that encourage this. Meanwhile, our warm and wonderful Student Welfare and Pastoral Team featured in The Newbury Weekly News recently,know how important empathy is in their approach to mental health and wellbeing with students and their peers. They are a dedicated bunch of super-committed professionals and we're so proud of them!
Heading the team of four, Student Welfare Manager Mr Sean Harper said 'Mental Health is something we take seriously every day, every week of the year in the Excalibur Academy Trust of schools that John O'Gaunt belongs to; particularly when we know mental health issues are on the rise in children and young people and have been exacerbated by the Coronavirus Pandemic'.
Mr Harper explained 'the emphasis is on talking and listening, finding coping and dealing strategies and building positivity, confidence, and resilience in our young people. Students know where to go if needed and practice looking out for each other, too. Often, it's just a case of talking something over, and resetting that positive, can-do mentality.'
The team work closely with parents, teachers, and agencies such as Time to Talk, West Berkshire Youth Hub, The Emotional Health Academy, Daisy's Dream and The Mental Health Support Team in West Berkshire. Mr Harper said, 'students find they gain strength and inspiration from a newfound resilience, which feeds back into their educational and community life and ultimately, a bright future'.
Head of School Mr Richard Hawthorne said 'In a small school like ours, we know our students really well, and wobbles or concerns are spotted early. Other staff in school are undertaking training to be Mental Health Champions through the expertise of children's charity Place2Be - so we are well-placed to build on good mental health across the school. Our Welfare and Pastoral Team are a really dynamic, positive force of nature! We are very proud of them - and of the way our students respond to them too!
Pic: L-R Mr Harper, Mrs Hopkins Ms Winslett, Mrs Wade.