Leading Wellbeing and Mental Health: On Visiting MCS

Wellbeing and Mental Health have been a high priority in education for a while. Both have generated a lot of headlines about the state of the UK education system. There are wellbeing and mental health concerns for the children, as emphasised by the NSPCC’s published report today:

  • 50,000 children rang childline last year
  • on average they received a crisis call every 11 minutes
  • this is an 8% increase on last year

Statistics like this really worry me and make me question the status quo:

  • What is going wrong in our schools?
  • How are we addressing these issues with our young people?
  • Why is our school system exasperating wellbeing and mental health issues?

A lot of schools now have reactive interventions to support those who are vulnerable. But, more importantly, how can we be preventative in out strategies?

The beauty of social media is that through #wellbeing #mentalhealth #teacher5aday tweets and blogs I have connected with a community of educators who  not only care, but are being proactive in crowd-sourcing/ cascading strategies and initiatives they are embedding in their schools. This is how I stumbled across Clare Erasmus. In May 2016, I saw a tweet about a #MHteachmeet at Magna Carta School, Staines. I shared it with a few friends and a group of us went down. I was intrigued as I had not seen a #teachmeet with a pastoral focus before.


The event was brilliant. It blew me away in fact. Nina Jackson was the key note and there followed a series of presentations on mindfulness, yoga, peer mentoring, family outreach, a mental health app designed by the students which showcased the #wellbeing ethos of the MCS. Clare had recently been promoted to Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing; she and her team had created a Wellbeing Zone with a provision of physical and virtual resources to support the community.

Clare and I have stayed in touch since the spring, and I have followed her as she has tweeted and blogged about their journey. She has presented on her research-led strategies  at numerous events including the Mental Health Conference that we hosted at Harris Crystal Palace, funded by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and curated by Dr Pooky Knightsmith. Today I visited her, with some Wellbeing colleagues and our HR team from GLF schools to see the  provision in situ.

mcs wellbeing 1.jpg

What I took away from my visit:

  • Collate the data – the student and staff voice focus is strong and underpins decision making but also gives leverage to get buy in
  • Create the space – MCS is well-provisioned with a suite  of rooms and offices
  • Invest in the training – the staff team have been trained to do yoga instruction, mindfulness, counselling – great CPD for them and brings value to the community
  • Identify role models – the young people have been trained to be Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, Wellbeing Ambassadors and Peer Mentors
  • Use the technology – an app designed by the students and a provision mapping tool have saved time and energy, whilst also breaking down barriers/ stigmas
  • Embed in culture – the different themed days, national awareness weeks, PSHE lessons and competitions include art and film artefacts displayed around the school

MCS 4.jpg

So keep Thursday 25th free as Clare and the team are planning the 2nd #MHTeachmeet t build on the success of last year.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Creating a values based education at Aureus School, with #wellbeing at its core

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The Magna Carta School #wellbeing research which has informed their strategic direction and decision making re preemptive initiatives

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Clare Erasmus – a visionary when it comes to the strategic leadership of Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Nicola Lainsbury – what a team these 2 make – great operational insight in to the day to day management of the space, the policies and the student ambassadors
  • Sue Webb – looking forward to working with Sue on embedding a VBE at Aureus School with #Wellbeing at the heart of our values
  • GLF Schools HR team – looking forward to collaborating on a MAT/ TSA wide strategy on how to ensure all of our stakeholders are well

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