Wellbeing, Health & Safety
We understand that the return to school this year will be unlike any other in our history. We recognise the need to prioritise safe, supportive, culturally-sustaining, and equitable learning environments that promote the social and emotional competencies of both students and adults in order for ACS schools and the communities they serve to thrive.
Ready to Return, Ready to Reconnect, Ready to Thrive
Ready to stay healthy and safe
We will remain fully compliant with UK Government guidance on the full return to school: following public health advice, revisiting all aspects of school operations, planning robust contingencies for further outbreaks, and carefully assessing all health and safety risks.
We are working together to ensure a COVID-secure school for all members of the ACS community by:
- reducing the risk of transmission
- limiting personal contact through social distancing
- introducing new procedures for cleaning, hand-washing and hygiene.
ACS schools will implement all essential measures for prevention and managing infection, including:
- a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
- expectation that ACS parents, students and staff follow government guidelines
- robust hand and respiratory hygiene
- enhanced cleaning arrangements
- active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
- formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible
- reduced opportunities cross-contamination so far as is reasonably practicable.
Ready to be well and to thrive
As our students return to school, we understand that for some the period away from school will mostly have been a safe and enjoyable time, whilst for or others, it will have been challenging or even traumatic. To help our students return to school, stay in school and resume their learning we will create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote students’ social and emotional development through:
· cultivating a sense of belonging and community
· providing the necessary structures for physical and emotional safety
· provision of support systems to meet the needs of our students
· creating space for student voice and agency
· offering opportunities for students to develop collaborative solutions to address inequalities
· engaging in practices that affirm diverse social and cultural identities
We will do this by providing access to internal and external experts, including school counsellors and our ACS wellbeing partners at Renner Wellbeing and the Family Wellness Practice. We will also ensure that, at all times and across all grade levels, we are educating for wellness in a dynamic programme of personal. health, social, and relationships education, along with advisory groups for personalised pastoral care. And, in order to ensure that the systems we have in place are successfully impacting on our entire student body we will monitor the wellbeing of our students, through self-reported measures such as the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Health Scale.
Student mental health
ACS Student Mental Health policy aims to ensure that our schools:
- promote positive mental health
- increase the understanding and awareness of common mental health issues and reduce the stigma attached to them
- cultivate a culture of inclusion that welcomes students whose mental health challenges can be effectively supported in ACS schools
- provide a secure environment that encourages openness and trust
- can respond effectively and in a timely manner to concerns about students’ mental health
- provide appropriate support to staff working with young people who are experiencing mental health problems
- help students develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes they need to make good decisions about their own mental health and wellbeing
- offers high quality school counselling, pastoral care and medical support.
Our approach to mental health is transparent, empathic and positive. We work to eliminate the misinformation, stigma and social isolation often associated with mental health concerns. We recognise that developmental challenges are a part of the human life-cycle, and that it is normal and expected for students to encounter and learn to overcome many issues. We promote good mental health hygiene and self-care.
ACS believes that supporting student mental health is a partnership with parents and carers, and is vitally important for the best care of the young people in the ACS community. We work with our local communities to support students and their families, including public and private mental health professionals, agencies and institutions.
Our wellbeing expert advisors
Family Wellness Practice are group of expert mental health practitioners, Counselling Psychologists, Psychotherapists and Psychiatrists qualified to the highest standards. FWP practitioners work individually and together as part of a team with a common passion for therapy and a commitment to emotional wellness and intellectual wellbeing.
Rener Wellbeing helps organisations to support their employees to sustainably improve their wellbeing. through a holistic four-pronged approach, focusing on: mental health, physical activity, sleep and nutrition.
Dragonfly Impact Education provides Mental Health First Aid Training for ACS pastoral care teams
Mental health resources
These online resources available to help you and your child with mental health, including:
- MindEd, a free educational resource from Health Education England on children and young people’s mental health
- Rise Above, which aims to build resilience and support good mental health in young people aged 10 to 16
- Every Mind Matters, which includes an online tool and email journey to support everyone to feel more confident in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing
- Bereavement UK and the Childhood Bereavement Network, provide information and resources to support bereaved pupils, schools and staff
- Surrey County Council’s Schools Alliance for Excellence has published a brief on Supporting Young People to Return and Recover: Wellbeing & Mental Health
During 2020-21, we plan to develop a Staff Wellbeing Charter, continuing the work we launched at the WELL-come Back virtual conference. Our staff wellbeing partners and other useful resources are accessible through the conference website.
The Health and Safety Executive has noted teaching as a high-stress profession. ACS is committed to helping teachers understand the importance emotional health and wellbeing, learn about and use strategies and techniques to promote positive emotional health and wellbeing, and develop self-directed approaches to stress management.
ACS provides formal clinical supervision for Safeguarding, Counselling and Pastoral Care staff who are responsible for supporting student mental health, as well as coaching and professional guidance from designated group leaders for Safeguarding and school nursing. Our Employee Assistance Programme is available to all ACS staff, providing 24/7 clinically-led guidance and LifeManagement support.
Addition support and guidance is available from