Therapeutic Interventions for Improved Mental Health and Well Being

The Pastoral Support Team (PST) works with children in school to help them access all aspects of school life; learning, social, play and achieving greater emotional resilience.

The Pastoral Support Team provides a range of services to support children and their families:

Please see the overview of the therapeutic interventions and strategies the Pastoral Support Team use to deliver improved mental health and well being for our children. If you would like more information about any of our services, please contact us on pst@lhaines.herts.sch.uk 

Nurture Group – We now have an established Nurture group which is integral to our whole school approach for children social and emotional development, mental health and well being. Our Nurture group is in its 5th year and continues to successfully address barriers to learning, helping children to progress in all areas of their social, emotional and behavioural development as well as school readiness, including self-regulation. It is a small group of 8 children staffed by two supportive adults who consistently role model positive relationships. Our Nurture group offers a short term, focused intervention which addresses barriers to learning arising from social, emotional or behavioural difficulties (SEBD), in an inclusive, supportive manner. The children follow a developmentally appropriate curriculum. Children continue to remain part of their own class group and usually return full time within 3 terms.

National Nurturing School Programme – We are excited to be the first school in the United Kingdom to achieve this accredited programme. The programme allows all our staff to develop and embed a nurturing culture throughout the school, enhancing teaching and learning, promoting healthy outcomes for children, all by focusing on emotional needs and development as well as academic learning in a whole-school environment. The programme also involves the whole school with parents and the community, allowing us to embed the nurture principles across all stakeholders..

Nurture Lunch – A targeted provision for children who find lunchtime difficult or a challenge. It provides a quiet area to eat lunch in a small group and also play opportunities to encourage friendships, turn taking and sharing. In addition Nurture lunch is a safe base for children with medical needs. It is staffed by the Nurture staff.

Inside/Outside – A targeted provision for a small group of children whose playground behaviour is a cause for concern. The children eat together with good role models and have a planned programme to support positive playground behaviour.. It is staffed by 2 members of the pastoral team.

Mindfulness – All staff have received mindfulness training and the children have participated in workshops from a registered mindfulness in schools practitioner. Mindfulness is becoming embedded throughout the school and is used frequently throughout the school day. We open each of our weekly staff meetings with a mindfulness activity.

Philosophy for Children (P4C) – P4C is a pedagogical approach that centres on teaching higher order thinking skills and the ability to question, debate and reason.  It is a student-led, enquiry based approach to learning. P4C develops thinking that is critical, using reasoned moves to build arguments; collaborative, with the sharing and challenging of ideas; creative in the willingness to speculate, take risks and imagine; and caring, because everything is set up to foster consideration and respect for one another. P4C is a whole school approach and is taught throughout the school day including P4C questions on the tables at lunch, a question set every week in assembly as well as in dedicated P4C lessons in class. It gives all children a voice and encourages children to become a community that can have thoughts and opinions of their own but accept and respect the thoughts and opinions of others.

Peer Massage – We are a massaging school. It is a whole school approach used to calm and relax our children ready to learn. Research shows peer to peer massage releases oxytocin and serotonin and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. During children’s mental health week all 510 children massaged for the first time simultaneously. Massage will now be included in assembly once a week.

Drawing & Talking – This is a safe therapeutic method of working with children who may be suffering from emotional and behavioural difficulties or who have suffered from some form of trauma known or unknown. It is highly valued therapeutic approach and has proved a way of breaking down emotional barriers for our children.

Lego therapy -  The purpose of  lego therapy is   to help  our children to develop their social and interaction skills through a highly structured individual or small group activity.      It is a talk therapy and benefits our boys greatly.

Sand Therapy – This therapeutic approach is used with our younger children demonstrating social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It follows the same principles as drawing & talking but through the tactile medium of sand and with small world toys.

Drumming Therapy -`An ancient therapeutic approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. Our family support worker and Nurture leader are trained in this approach and it is used as one of our approaches with boys.

Mentoring- Mentoring in a tool helps children to grow in confidence and in their understanding of self but in a collaborative manner with the mentor. By using the mentor as an example to follow focus is drawn away from just the child and placed on the child and the mentor as both parties look to explore understanding and growing together. This is a longer standing model of change used with children over a period of a number of months. Change is often gradual but effective. Our family support worker mentors children identified as needing this intervention.

All About Me- a group for targeted children who we have concerns about their relationship with food, eating issues, body image or have signs of self harm. A volunteer eating disorders nurse supports a member of staff to deliver activities to give a positive message about these subjects. 

Mosaic – a mentoring programme for girls aged 9-11 years old and their mothers to increase their confidence raise their aspirations and encourage them to engage in their long-term education. The programme seeks to equip young girls with the skills to connect education to work at an early age through female mentors from professional backgrounds acting as role models, and so that girls can aspire to careers in a range of different sectors. Mothers participate in lessons that raise their awareness of the importance of education and how to support their daughters through school and beyond. Something we have successfully been part of for 4 years.

Seasons For Growth - is a loss and grief peer-group education programme to support children in our school who are affected by change, loss and grief associated with death, family breakdown, or any other form of separation. One of our most experienced members of staff has been delivering this sensitive talk programme for many years

Transformers – a structured peer to peer mentoring programme. An older student from year 5 or 6 mentors a student from year 1 or 2 whose behaviour is a cause for concern either in class or in the playground. The transformer (mentor) works with his apprentice, role modelling positive behaviour and language. They report back on their progress and become a buddy for the younger student once the programme has completed.

Social Skills – is a small group of 4-6 targeted children led by an experienced member of staff who teaches the children how to interact appropriately with others their age. The group helps our children learn life skills such as conversation, friendship and problem-solving and to control their emotions and understand other people’s perspectives.

Buoyancy Balloons – A whole school initiative to encourage resilience, teach empathy and inspire behaviour for learning. It is an added way for the children to know and what they need to achieve to be recognised for their good choices and why. Rewards were added to existing rewards such as house points, head teachers award, celebration certificates. The new rewards include praise postcards sent home and Larry the school mascot to go home with someone who demonstrates consistent qualities in behaviour for learning.

Badges of Honour – An initiative inspired from the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ programme. There are five badges to collect; take notice, connect, keep learning, be active and giving. The five ways to well being are evidence based actions that promote positive mental health.  The children take ownership over their own well being through working towards the badge. They are recognised and nominated by the staff, their parents or carers or other members of the school community. Once they receive three nominations they achieve the badge in celebration assembly and wear it on their school uniform.

House System –all the children and staff belong to one of four houses named after the rivers of Watford; Chess, Gade, Ebury & Colne. It gives everyone a sense of belonging and a structured reward system. The houses have staff and children’s captains and provide healthy competitiveness and promote fun and resilience.

Family Learning – we actively encourage our families to engage in school life. By supporting our parents to achieve a qualification in English and Maths they in turn support their children’s learning and also support each other, make friends and raise expectations of themselves.

Yoga - Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them.

Protective Behaviours -Protective Behaviours is a safety awareness and resilience building programme which helps children and adults to recognise any situation where they feel worried or unsafe, such as feeling stressed, bullied or threatened and explores practical ways to keep safe. Protective Behaviours also looks at identifying support networks for times when we need someone to listen and help.

Run a Mile – Children challenge themselves daily with their class peers to run a mile. It is not only daily exercise, it releases endorphins and builds resilience and self-esteem.

Emotion Coaching- Emotion Coaching is a technique that helps children understand their feelings. When staff Emotion Coach, the children learn how emotions work and how to react to feelings in healthy ways. Emotion Coaching starts by recognizing the child's feelings, labelling them and empathising. Step 2 would be to set the limits on behaviour and then step 3 is to co-learn with the child about finding a more appropriate way to manage their behaviour.

Hertfordshire Step On Approach – All staff are trained in the Step On approach to de-escalation. It emphasises the importance of consistency and teaching internal, rather than imposing external, discipline. It focuses on care and control, not punishment. It uses techniques to de-escalate a situation before a crisis occurs and, where a crisis does occur, it adopts techniques to reduce the risk of harm.

No Shoes Learning - by removing shoes, children have a grounded feeling, providing a calmer atmosphere in class where pupils were more willing to engage in learning activities.

Fishing Project – Targeting children that appear quiet and withdrawn in class. They are taken by two supportive adults and spend time fishing. It builds confidence, self esteem and social conversation.

Attachment Awareness Project – Is a 3 year project, collaborating with other schools from within DSPL 9 to understand and raise attachment awareness within our school community.

Safe Spaces – Every class has a designated safe space within it to ensure the environment is a safe, happy one and does not trigger fear or anxiety in any child. The space is used as needed by individual children to take some time to relax and then be ready to learn.