Our students’ wellbeing is our prime concern at St Mary’s. We know that when our students feel happy, secure and supported they are more likely to make the most of the opportunities our school has to offer and to develop as individuals. ‘Happy girls are high achievers’ sums up the St Mary’s ethos – we create an environment in which our students feel able to concentrate on their lessons, put energy into their learning and achieve academically.
WELLBEING VISION STATEMENT
The atmosphere at St Mary’s is relaxed, yet purposeful. In our tight-knit school community, everyone knows everyone. Students are encouraged to make friends with those in their own year as well as other year groups, through house activities and whole-school events. Our students are extremely supportive of each other – they celebrate each other’s successes and help each other out whenever needed.
There is a very strong system of values at St Mary’s, which runs right through all we do. Kindness, thoughtfulness, respect and fairness are central to the St Mary’s ethos, as are politeness and good manners. These values are communicated through academic lessons, enrichment activities and challenges. Some positions of responsibility are democratically elected.
Support network - Buddies, Listeners and Mentors
No student is alone at St Mary's - each one has a 'Buddy', a student in the year above, who befriends and keeps an eye on her throughout her time at St Mary's. Our trained Year 11 Peer Mentors – the ‘Listeners’ – are on hand at break-times and lunchtimes to give informal support to students in any year group, with minor problems, ranging from friendship issues to homework struggles. Strategies are put in place for students who have specific difficulty in any area of school life and our most experienced members of staff act as Mentors to students who benefit from continual one-to-one support. Form Teachers know the members of their form well – forms never exceed 20 students and Form Teachers progress through the school with their forms, as do Heads of Year.
Rules and sanctions
There are very few formal school rules at St Mary’s – our students know what is expected of them and they rarely fall short. Students whose behaviour is not of an acceptable standard are counselled by a member of staff to help them to learn and improve.
Alongside the academic curriculum, students take part in two Enrichment Activities each week. These develop skills and interests, as well as strength of character and techniques to maintain wellbeing. Sessions are timetabled and students may choose which activities to take part in.
Wellbeing Award for Schools
As part of our commitment to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, we were delighted to be the first independent school in Essex to achieve the prestigious Wellbeing Award for Schools (WAS) from Optimus Education. This award has been developed in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau and focuses on ensuring effective practice and provision to promote the emotional wellbeing and mental health of both staff and students. We want to ensure mental health problems are identified early and appropriate support is provided, offering provision and interventions that match the needs of our students and staff. At St Mary’s it is vital that we engage the whole-school community in the importance of mental health awareness, capturing the views of parents, students and staff on mental health issues.
For further details see www.awardplace.co.uk/award/was
As part of our WAS status, we have access to a number of resources, please see below for a document outlining some self-help website for young people:
Wellbeing award for schools guide to self-help websites for young people