Ensuring counselling sessions for all pupils at Oswestry School has been an initiative that has been in place long before the COVID lockdown and return to school.
In recent news there has been much reporting on the lack of counselling in more than half of state school in England following research conducted by The Institute of Public Policy Research.
The school’s counsellor, Soraya Bellis, has been working hard to make sure that each pupil at Oswestry School, and the Prep Department, Bellan House, have received the support they need.
Working as a team, staff refer pupils from Bellan up to Sixth Formers for counselling, when they feel a young person is struggling and in need of a deeper level of mental health support. Pupils are offered up to 6 sessions and sometimes more, depending on the complexity and level of distress.
The Headmaster, Julian Noad, recognises that counselling at school means less time is lost leaving the premises to have therapy elsewhere during the school day. Counselling sessions are part of the strong school pastoral team offering, and certain details can be shared providing informed support that is contained under one roof.
Counselling provides young people with the opportunity to talk in a safe, confidential environment, without judgement and gain a better understanding of what is going on for them.
“The benefits of counselling are too many to mention,” said the Headmaster, “but it can provide a release of pressure and stress, that can distract pupils from their studies; it can improve relationships; provide strategies for dealing with anxiety and help the bereaved to learn how to live with grief.
“In this current climate, counselling can also help to build resilience.”
The School Counsellor agrees with Paul Whiteman and the recent report that identifies the urgent need for counselling in schools, and not just ‘access to counselling’.
“Young people need a sense of consistency and stability in their lives,” said Soraya. “This is a time when it feels like nothing is guaranteed and can be very unsettling for everyone.
“Anxiety is heightened, and family stress may be more of a feature at home. So, to be able to meet regularly with a counsellor, in a familiar and calm space, to discuss any issues that may be concerning young people at this time, COVID related or not, will help to keep their mental health on track.
“I feel very privileged, every time I come into school and share a part of a young person’s life.
“Oswestry School sees the benefit of offering students the emotional support they need, so that they are better able to attend to their studies; research on mass has unanimously proven that mental health issues prevent young people from being able to learn effectively.
“I see it as a partnership in learning and enabling, between me and the school.”