A commitment to the wellbeing of pupils, parents and staff has led to Felsted School being presented with the prestigious national Optimus Education Wellbeing Award. The independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 4 to 18 has recently developed its wellbeing facilities and expertise and has embarked on an initiative to engage the whole school community in activities designed to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining good mental health.
“Wellbeing matters at Felsted because we want to deliver happy, well-adjusted young people who are ready to go out and face the world,” comments Felsted Headmaster, Mr Chris Townsend. “We want the whole school community to understand the importance of positive wellbeing and mental health awareness and in just one year 25% more pupils believe that they can get help at school if needed. Requests to engage with counselling have also increased by 20%, which demonstrates a more proactive approach to positive interventions.”
In order to achieve the award, Felsted’s Deputy Head, Counselling & Wellbeing, Karen Megahey, and her team demonstrated the effectiveness of the school’s active wellbeing services throughout 12 months of rigorous and ongoing assessments. Affective Social (AS) Tracking, Mental First Aid Training, PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education), Counselling and Peer Counselling were all assessed and found to be well above the required standard.
The school has made significant investment in its wellbeing provision in recent years. A dedicated Wellbeing Centre was officially opened in April 2018 by former Felsted pupil Dr Simon Walker and his wife Dr Jo Walker, who have developed the online AS tracking assessment, which is now accessed by every senior school boarder twice a year to help assess their mental health needs. The Centre is a hub for the school’s wellbeing activities and is shared across both Felsted Senior School and Prep School, caring for over 1000 pupils, 300 staff and parents.
All pupils from Year 7 upwards are introduced to the Wellbeing Centre through timetabled Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) lessons and activities associated with wellbeing, such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and pilates. Younger pupils may use the Centre for counselling services, including peer counselling, one to one therapy and creative therapies such as art, sand play and play therapy.
Staff, senior pupils and parents also have the opportunity to sign up to Mental Health First Aid Training with one of Felsted’s three instructors, held on a regular basis to improve the emotional literacy of the community. 80 Sixth Formers are now trained in MHFA and 70 members of staff.
Future plans will see all Felsted teachers trained in Mental Health First Aid, and a range of external speakers will be used to deliver key messages for Felsted pupils and staff. The care of each and every pupil remains the priority for Felsted School, and it is hugely encouraging to see this recognised.