Wellbeing and Pastoral Support
Welcome from Mr A. Jones, Wellbeing Lead
Whilst I have only worked at Blenheim High School for 2 years, I have worked in education for over 18 years. My previous roles have included; Assistant Headteacher in charge of Key Stage 3, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead and Director of Sixth Form. In my short time here at Blenheim, it is clear that the safety and wellbeing of our pupils, both inside and outside of school, is at the heart of all that we do as a community.
Whilst we wish our students to thrive academically, this can only be achieved within a caring and tolerant environment where everybody is recognised as an individual and a growth mindset is constantly promoted.
The pastoral system at Blenheim is a vital part of school life. Every Head of Year is a Safeguarding Officer, ensuring that there is a member of staff at every layer of our school community who is fully equipped to identify the signs of any student who may require support in overcoming the many hurdles that they may face on their journey through Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.
The student journey is rarely straight forward with challenges cropping up when least expected. It is our job to build strong, sustainable relationships with our students and families so that every student’s potential, both academically and vocationally, can be realised.
Blenheim is fortunate to have the experience and expertise of Ben Cole as Designated Safeguarding Lead, ably supported by the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead – Mrs Peacock. As Blenheim’s Office Manager for over 15 years, Mrs Peacock has a wealth of experience in dealing with a range of issues that affect the wellbeing of children. As well as supporting the Designated Safeguarding Lead, she also provides additional support to families as required.
As well as our Safeguarding Leads, we work closely with Mrs Leon and Mrs Topson (Blenheim’s Pastoral Facilitators), Mrs McCreery (Attendance Officer) and Mrs Peacock (Office Manager) work to ensure that all of the staff at Blenheim are confidentially aware of the challenges affecting our students.
At Blenheim, we aim to create a supportive learning environment where all students, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or academic ability, feel safe and secure. However, it is at home that their confidence and self-esteem must also be cemented and celebrated. By working closely alongside us we can achieve so much more together than we ever could apart.
Understandably, parents/carers sometimes have a fear that asking for extra support will be a poor reflection of their parenting skills. In 99% of cases this is totally untrue. Raising teenagers is an incredibly tricky business; we should know, we have over 1300 of them! We will do all we can to support you and your child through their time at Blenheim and to signpost them within and outside of the school as necessary.
We do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach. In reading the information below along with the full copy of our Wellbeing Guide I hope that you will appreciate the range of bespoke support available. A comprehensive range of intervention will ensure the right strategy for each student.
As Wellbeing Lead, I chair termly meetings with Blenheim parents/carers. I will be in contact throughout the year to inform all parents/carers of planned meetings and events so that they can discuss the issues affecting student wellbeing and the strategies we can adopt to alleviate them. If you would be interested in joining this group, please contact me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this introduction and feel free to call me or any one of the Safeguarding Team as necessary.
Mr A. Jones
Silver School Mental Health in School Award
The Mental Health in School Award was established in 2017 by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – part of Leeds Beckett University – and social enterprise Minds Ahead.
The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools aims to strengthen pupils’ mental health by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK's education system, improving students’ outcomes and life chances.
Schools are assessed against eight key criteria, with inspectors looking for examples of evidence-based approaches that align to the latest professional guidance surrounding mental health.
The eight areas are:
- Leadership and strategy
- Organisational structure and culture – staff
- Organisational structure and culture – pupils
- Support for staff
- Support for pupils
- Staff professional development and learning
- Working with parents and carers
- Working with external services
Schools must demonstrate that they not only have the proper structures, strategy and support in place to care for the mental health and wellbeing of their own community, but that they are also sharing knowledge, resources and best practice nationally, and internationally, with other school and external agencies.
"Mental Health and Wellbeing has never been more important and as a school we made it a priority in recent years to prioritise our Mental Health and Wellbing provision. This has been reflected in our promotion from Bronze to Silver Status by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence. I am extremely proud of the dedication that our community has shown in supporting both staff and students proactively with their mental health, especially during what has been a particularly challenging period for all.
Having this accreditation will stand as a constant reminder and motivation in ensuring we continue to have a positive impact and promote good mental health and wellbeing throughout the academy."
Mr A. A. Bodell, Headteacher
Blenheim's Wellbeing Team
Mr T. Smithson, Assistant Headteacher Pastoral Lead
Mr B. Cole, Assistant Headteacher Inclusion and Designated Safeguarding Lead
Mrs H. Peacock, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead and Office Manager
Mrs A. McCreery, Attendance Officer
Miss L. Briant, Educational Inclusion Officer
Mr A. Jones, Wellbeing Lead
Mrs T. Leon, KS3 Pastoral Facilitator
Mrs M. Topson, KS4 Pastoral Facilitator and ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)
Mrs L. Acton, Key Stage 3 & 4 Pastoral Administrator
Mrs Julie Nelson, Teaching Assistant and ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)
Miss H. James, Head of Year 7
Mr N. Flaherty, Head of Year 8
Mr R. Jones, Head of Year 9
Miss L. Scott, Head of Year 10
Mr J. Lewis, Head of Year 11
Miss A. Armstrong, Head of Sixth Form
Mr D. Harris, Deputy Head of Sixth Form (Academic)
Miss F. Thomas, Deputy Head of Sixth Form (Student Wellbeing)
Mr R. Brooks, Assistant Headteacher, SENCO
Miss S. Bird, Deputy SENCO
Mrs Leanne Ludlow, School Nurse
Mrs G. Ciesco, Examinations Officer
Mrs A. Barnes, Primary Schools Liaison Facilitator
Parents’ /carers’ first port of call should always be the student’s Form Tutor. Form Tutors see their tutees daily, and are often the best equipped person to deal with matters when they first arise. Any concern that a Form Tutor feels needs extra intervention will be brought to the attention of the student’s Head of Year. They will contact parents/carers to try to resolve the matter or suggest measures that might be taken at home or by the school. Should the Head of Year feel unable to deal with the matter alone, then they will seek the support of the Assistant Headteacher Pastoral Lead, Mr Smithson.
Examples of interventions are outlined below. These include:
- Time out cards (permitting students to step outside of a particular lesson if they feel stressed or anxious until a conservation can be had with the class teacher in the privacy of the corridor)
- A ‘Toilet Pass’
- A ‘Lunchtime Pass’ to enable students to spend their breaktime with a Pastoral Facilitator rather than in the Canteen or outdoors
- A ‘Movement Pass’ to enable students who find the transition between lessons too daunting to move between classes when the corridors are quieter
- An ‘Early Morning Pass’ to ensure that students arriving by bus very early do not have to wait outside
- Providing a ‘Lift Pass’ to any student using crutches or a wheelchair
- An email to teaching staff asking that a student be discreetly moved away from another student on the seating plan
- Temporarily moving a student’s locker to be with a Pastoral Facilitator in order to support them with their organisation
- Allowing students to register with a Pastoral Facilitator or our Attendance Officer each morning in order to reduce any anxiety
- Modifying a student’s timetable to enable a slightly later start each day, or leave a little earlier (with agreement of the Education Inclusion Officer)
- Emotional Literacy Support (weekly sessions with a trained member of staff to talk through matters which spark an emotional response in a student)
- Mentoring from a member of the Pastoral or Safeguarding Team (e.g. in dealing with self-harm or anxiety)
- An appointment to speak in confidence to Leanne, the School Nurse
- Restorative Justice sessions (a supervised meeting between students who have experienced a friendship issue which they wish to ‘put to bed’ and move on from)
- Arranging a TAC meeting (Teachers Around the Child). This involves all the teachers of a specific student meeting over lunch to discuss how they can best support the student by ensuring a united and consistent approach. The meetings are chaired by the student’s Head of Year.
These are just some of the strategies which work in supporting students. However, parents/carers are encouraged to make other suggestions. Typically, parents/carers will contact the child’s Form Tutor in the first instance.
The School Office
The School Office is a central part of Blenheim High School. Mrs Peacock, Officer Manager, and her team not only help communication channels open between home and school, they are also trained first aiders and responsible for managing the Medical Room. If students need medication in school, it should be left in the School Office, in a container or zip up bag that is named and has clear instructions regarding dosage. No student will be given ibuprofen or paracetamol without written consent from a parent/carer. All students that use medication regularly (e.g. inhalers, epipen users, diabetics) will need to complete a Health Care Plan and ensure that the School Office has an up to date copy of this at all times.
It is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that any medication left at school has not expired. A team of school nurses offer vaccinations from time to time. This is communicated via ParentMail. Consent for vaccinations is now given online.
If a student is feeling unwell, they can ask to leave their lesson and visit the Medical Room. Please support Mrs Peacock and the team by not accepting calls from students before they have got to the Medical Room and been assessed by one of the team. In most cases the student will be encouraged to remain in school unless they are deemed unfit for lessons. If they are suffering a headache, it might be appropriate for them to continue working in the Library. Sometimes students contact home from the toilets and ask to be collected without the School Office being informed. Should parents/carers receive such a call, please support the school by encouraging students to visit the Medical Room. In the interests of safeguarding, the school must know where students are at all times, particularly when they are feeling unwell. Blenheim appreciates parents’/carers’ support in this matter.
The School Office team are also able to provide a print out of what students have been purchasing from the school canteen. Parents/carers often worry students are skipping lunch or making unhealthy food choices, so feel free to contact the School Office if you require a print out.
The School Office has supplies of sanitary products and spare uniform if ever a student needs to use them.
A ‘Toilet Pass’ can be created for students needing to visit the toilet on medical grounds and a key to the school’s lift will be given to students in need, providing that the School Office receive written confirmation from a medical professional that the lift should be used.
It is crucial that the School Office has parents’/carers’ most recent contact details on the school system. In an emergency, the school needs to have more than one contact in case the first is uncontactable. It is recommended that parents/carers provide three contacts. Whenever a mobile phone number or email address is changed, please let the School Office know so that records can kept up to date.
Finally, if parents/carers need to get a message to students during the school day, they should contact the School Office rather than texting or calling the student’s mobile phone. Mobile phones are not permitted to be out of a student’s bag during the school day, so sending a message via the School Office is the most efficient means and will also ensure students do not receive a sanction for using a mobile phone in school.
Wellbeing Ambassadors and Mentors
Sometimes students prefer to discuss things that are on their mind with a peer rather than an adult. In most cases, the other student is older and has experienced and overcome that particular hurdle themselves and can share how they managed to overcome it.
Blenheim has a team of Wellbeing Ambassadors who are trained in how to be a sympathetic listener and how to coach their fellow students in how to develop skills of resilience. The Wellbeing Ambassadors work mainly with our incoming Year 7 students to support them through their transition from primary to secondary school. Some students find this a more difficult period than others, but with the support of a trusted Wellbeing Ambassador, students usually manage to settle in quickly. All of our Wellbeing Ambassadors have been trained to refer any students that they feel require additional support to a member of staff.
Sixth Form Mentors
Our Sixth Form students are excellent role models to students in the lower school. If a student loses their way at any point on their journey through Key Stage 3 or 4, then they can be ‘buddied up’ with a suitable Sixth Form student to meet weekly with the student and mentor them (with support from a teacher) to get things back on track. Please contact Miss Thomas for more information about setting this up.
Miss Fiona Thomas, Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Pastoral Lead
Learning Mentor Support
Sometimes students might benefit from some more specialist advice in overcoming a particular challenge in their life and they may be referred to have three structured sessions (each approximately one hour long) with Steve Loizou or Tania Gauci who work at Blenheim as Learning Mentors.
Sometimes students prefer to speak to an adult that is not their Form Tutor, teacher or somebody seen as in a position of authority. Instead, they feel that they would rather open up to somebody external to the school who is trained to deal with such issues as anxiety, bereavements, behavioural issues, eating disorders, self-harm, gender identity or sexuality. In such cases we would contact parents/carers to see if students may benefit from the support of Steve or Tania.
Some of the issues that students face are complex and they may feel anxious discussing them with any adult.
Steve and Tania do not take it personally if a student feels that they do not want to continue seeing them after their first meeting. The sessions are confidential in nature but with the student’s consent, certain aspects of their conversations might be shared with parents/carers over the telephone. If Steve or Tania feel that a student needs more intensive support than they can provide, it would be communicated to Mr Smithson and Mr Cole immediately.
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) is a service which many parents/carers have heard of, but are often unsure if their situation would warrant their support. They may worry about who makes the referral and how long it might take to get the desired support. It is true that CAMHS, like any other service, has a waiting list. However, if the need is urgent Blenheim may be able to get the required support more quickly.
One option is to refer students to be assessed by the school’s Childrens’ Wellbeing Practitioners (CWPs). They are specialists in supporting students with anxiety and low mood. If they feel a student requires higher level support, then they can refer a student on our behalf to work with CAMHs.
Often a CAMHS referral can be made via the GP. It is recommended to seek the advice of a GP if a CAMHS intervention is being considered. Blenheim can also make a CAMHS referral on behalf of students. Often, a two-pronged approach, by way of a joint referral from the GP and school, is an effective way of ensuring that a referral to this fantastic service is actioned swiftly.
The North East Surrey branch of CAMHS is conveniently located on Hook Road, just around the corner from Blenheim, so often students are granted permission to walk to their appointment.
CAMHS specialise in supporting under 18 year olds with the following issues:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attachment disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Depressive disorders
- Deliberate self-harm
- Developmental disorders
- Eating disorders
- Hyperkinetic disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post traumatic syndromes
- Psychotic disorders
- Severe behavioural problems
- Somatic syndromes
Once support has been offered by CAMHS to students, it is very helpful if parents/carers give consent for CAMHS to share updates on any progress being made with the school. This ensures that communication is open and we are able to share strategies, concerns, updates and progress and make the support as effective for students as possible.
Please contact Mrs Peacock for more information or start the process of a CAMHS referral.
Mrs Peacock, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead
Exams always create a sense of nervousness and apprehension. With the new linear style of GCSE courses, arguably students today feel more pressure than ever to perform their best when it comes to public examinations. At Blenheim we recognise that some students find the build up to the examination period more than a little daunting. We seek to support all students to ensure that they have the most positive exam experience possible and that they feel relaxed and able to achieve their best. Mrs Ciesco (Examinations Officer) and her skilled team of invigilators work tirelessly to accommodate the needs of students in order to reduce anxiety.
There are many things which the examinations team can put into place. These include:
- Working with the SENCO to identify candidates that meet the criteria for exam access arrangements and ensure that they are delivered (e.g. extra time, a scribe, a reader, use of a reader-pen, use of a laptop).
- Supporting students before, during and after their exams. Students will always be able to rely on an effective, empathetic team who are able to respond to any situation whilst keeping within the rules. This ranges from providing students with a tissue to blow their nose, heating a wheat bag for a chronic back condition to supporting a student having an anxiety attack or simply understanding the signs in order to avoid one happening in the first place.
- Working within exam regulations to provide students with an exam setting that supports their needs. All formal exams need to be administered by invigilators. A number of spaces around the school are utilised to support exams. By the time a student sits their formal exams they will know exactly where they will be sitting their exam. We will endeavour to provide students who have approved access arrangements with the same desk and venue for every exam. Invigilators in each room will understand any known support requirements.
- Notifying the Exam Board of any circumstances which should be taken into consideration by any examiner marking a student’s work (e.g. period of illness, a bereavement, an anxiety attack).
In applying for any of the above, Mrs Ciesco and Mr Brookes (Assistant Headteacher, SENCo) must be able to provide the relevant exam board with evidence of why the candidate should receive access arrangements or special consideration. It is therefore vital that you keep copies of any medical appointments or letters to professionals which could be submitted to them. Blenheim cannot guarantee that any of the above measures will be granted but we will do our best to support your case.
Please contact Mrs Ciesco to discuss any exam related issues at any point in the academic year. It is always better for issues to be raised as far in advance of the exam as possible, so that it can be documented and communicated to the Exam Board before the exam is sat.
Finally, if students are ill, or going to be late on the day of an exam, please ring Mrs Ciesco as soon as possible so that steps can be taken to reduce the impact of any disruption to the grade achieved.
Mrs Gina Ciesco, Examinations Officer
Wellbeing Presentation 2023
Please click below to download a copy of our Wellbeing Presentation Autumn 2023 for those that weren't able to attend the face to face event.
Wellbeing Presentation - Support with Anxiety
Please find below a copy of the presentation delivered at our recent Wellbeing Event.
Wellbeing Presentation - Support with Exam Stress
Please find below a copy of the Presentation delivered by Blenheim's Wellbeing Team on exam stress and anxiety.