Positive mental health and wellbeing is a key part of life at Ipswich Academy.
In modern life everyone faces external pressures which can affect their wellbeing, so we work hard to support staff and pupil mental health, raise awareness of mental health issues and overcome stigma in our local community.
We provide all our teachers and support staff with training so they can understand, identify and respond to the emotional needs of pupils. This includes laying the groundwork for managing anxiety in the classroom, a practice which came into its own when integrating pupils back to school after the long Covid lockdown.
Another way in which we support our pupils’ health and wellbeing is a programme we have developed called the Skill Zone. It allows children to explore choices and consequences, emotional intelligence, managing authority, equality, bullying and making a positive contribution. It also gives them the language to express themselves and provides a safe space where they can talk about things they would not get a chance to at other times of the school day.
Every child is different, with different ways of learning and expressing themselves, so the exact way in which we support pupils varies depending on their age, needs and preferences. As children progress through secondary school and gain more independence and autonomy over themselves and their decisions, getting them to engage with support depends more on the young person feeling positive about the intervention. To this end, we focus a lot of our attention on making sure interventions are relevant and accessible.
We employ learning mentors to give extra support for those pupils with additional emotional needs and we have also enlisted external specialist services to support our most vulnerable pupils and families with complex needs. One of these specialists is Teenage Mental Health which helps to support children and families struggling with anxiety and disruptive behaviour across both primary and secondary school.
There is no doubt the importance of mental health has been pushed into the spotlight by the coronavirus pandemic. However, even outside the current circumstances, we know it is essential to have a school that is healthy and balanced for us all to achieve sustained success, and we will carry on working hard to sustain this goal.