A London primary school has been praised by the government’s mental health minister
A primary school has been hailed as a “pioneer” for making its mark in children’s mental health provision.
Charles Dickens School, in south London, received the praise during a visit from the government’s mental health minister, Jackie Doyle-Price.
The state school says it provides a “whole-school approach” where good mental health is embedded into “every aspect of school life” and enables better teaching.
It has used mindfulness techniques – such as filling a bell jar with water and glycerin, then sprinkling in coloured glitter to represent moods – to transform their approach to wellbeing.
Cassie Buchanan, the headteacher, said: “We have more time to teach a full curriculum, the school is calmer and for the most part, we are self-healing and resilient.
“Giving children the tools to manage challenges, to support each other, and articulate their feelings more precisely, means less time is taken unpicking friendship fall-outs or problems at home, or simply not wanting to join in.
“An example: we are based close to London Bridge, the scene of the recent terrorist attacks – and most of our children knew someone who had been there or they live there themselves. We talked a lot after that night and the children could express themselves so well, in a way that many parents struggled with.
“We talked about it and nearly all of the children moved on. Those that didn’t, we were able to spot immediately.”
Ms Doyle-Price praised the school’s approach, and insists the government wants mental health leads in schools, support teams and reduced waiting times rolled out to at least a fifth to a quarter of the country by 2022/23.
She said: “I had great expectations ahead of this visit, and I’ve not been let down.
“What I have seen today is staff, pupils and parents all working together and understanding mental health and how it impacts on every aspect of our lives. I’ve seen what is possible – and I now ask every school up and down the country to follow their lead.”