“Be the best you can” is the Academy’s motto – and incorporated in that vision is our commitment to supporting students and staff in relation to their wellbeing.
As such, we are delighted to share that we recently achieved the Wellbeing Award for Schools – a whole-school award developed by Optimus Education in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), which focuses on ensuring effective practice and provision is in place that promotes the emotional wellbeing and mental health of both staff and pupils. The award has a focus on changing the long-term culture of a school, and embedding an ethos where mental health is regarded as the responsibility of all – and Skinners’ Academy is the first school in Hackney to have achieved it.
To achieve this award schools are expected to demonstrate how they:
- Show their commitment to promoting mental health as part of school life
- Improve the emotional wellbeing of their staff and pupils
- Ensure mental health problems are identified early and appropriate support provided
- Offer provision and interventions that matches the needs of its pupils and staff
- Engage the whole school community in the importance of mental health awareness
- Capture the views of parents, pupils and teachers on mental health issues
… which Skinners’ Academy successfully achieved.
Excellent teaching is at the heart of Skinners’ Academy; and our pastoral provision, which was considered as part of this process, is also something that we take a huge amount of pride in. The Academy has ensured that we have support professionals on staff beyond quality SEND, EAL and safeguarding teams. Somewhat unique to Skinners’ we also have a school nurse, family support worker, academy counsellor, CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) representative as well as colleagues focused on pupil and parent engagement as well careers guidance support.
Some direct quotes from the Wellbeing Award for Schools verification report include:
- “It was great to hear such positive views of the Academy from all stakeholders. Students, families and staff have a strong sense of the school’s focus on emotional wellbeing and mental health (EWMH), understand their role in it and where they can seek support. They are proud of the school’s commitment and achievements in this area. Its holistic approach to EWMH is shared and appreciated across the community.”
- “The school understands that supporting emotional wellbeing and mental health is central to its work. This is exemplified by its vision statement and borne out by comments from pupils, parents and staff. The school’s vision is clearly exemplified throughout the building and beyond via the website etc.”
- “EWMH is integrated into the curriculum within PSHE and elsewhere. The school also offers a range of enrichment activities that support student wellbeing and the development of self-confidence and resilience. Pupils clearly appreciate how these contribute to their EWMH.”
- “Parents and students speak highly of how the school works with them to resolve issues. Parents report that they feel welcome and listened to. The school is working hard to engage some parents and students who are, as yet, less able to access support. There is evidence from evaluations of a significant improvement in student and parent awareness of the support available during the time that Skinners has been working on the Wellbeing Award.”
- “Students describe how the support they receive helps them at school. In particular, they refer to the strategies designed to help them combat stress in relation to exams etc and speak highly of the many occasions offered both within and outside the formal curriculum to pursue creative opportunities and to talk openly about EWMH. One said ‘I was very shy when I came to the school but they boost your confidence’. They really appreciate that staff (and in particular their ‘advisers’) ask how they are every day.”
Encouraging a sense of wellbeing and achieving this award was the mission of Zehra Jaffer, Skinners’ Academy’s senior vice principal until the end of 2018 (now head teacher at Stoke Newington High School) and the work in this area is being continued by Joe Maloney, examinations officer and new chair of The Change Team – the Skinners’ Academy wellbeing committee.
Speaking of the award, Joe said “Skinners’ Academy is the first school in Hackney to have achieved this accolade and we’re pleased to have been recognised for our efforts in this area. As the new Chair of The Change Team, I’m happy to be continuing in Zehra’s footsteps, leading a team of wellbeing champions for the Academy. The Academy sees achieving the Wellbeing Award as recognition of some very good work in this area but also as a reminder to our community of students, staff and beyond that wellbeing is essential to our success and happiness and that as a team, we hope to always be able to support each other in this respect and intend to keep evolving in this area.”
Tim Clark, Principal of Skinners’ Academy noted, “As an Academy who employs more than 150 members of staff and teaches over 1100 secondary and sixth form students – we know that both staff and students will be most likely achieve the goal stated by the Academy’s motto ‘be the best you can’ when their wellbeing is acknowledged and supported. Educational institutions like many others have competing issues and pressures which can affect the school community and while I would not claim that the Academy is perfect when it comes to wellbeing, wellbeing is undoubtedly a priority and staff and students recognise that there are processes and initiatives in place to support them. In instances where support is considered lacking, staff and students know of my open door policy which encourages them to discuss issues and ideas with me – and some of our success which has been recognised by the award has been through initiatives created by members of the Academy community who saw a need. Long may that continue.”