York school scoops pioneering mental health award

York school scoops pioneering mental health award

28 February 2023

Queen Margaret’s School for Girls (QM) provides a wide range of activities to boost the wellbeing of pupils and staff; mindfulness, meditation and focus days which put mental health and wellbeing at the forefront are commonplace in the timetable. Each year group has student Wellbeing Champions who take the lead in encouraging positive mental health amongst their peers. The school also invites external speakers to run sessions for parents, ensuring that the whole school community is factored into its mental health strategy.

Tania Davidson, Deputy Head (Pastoral) at Queen Margaret’s School for Girls said: “Achieving the Gold Status School Mental Health Award has recognised QM’s ability to weave mental health and wellbeing into every aspect of school life. A critical part of the Award is ensuring that mental health is fully embedded through policy and strategic planning”.

Mrs Davidson added: “A key part of working towards the award was working closely with our Deputy Head Girl (Wellbeing) and the student-led Wellbeing Council to ensure wellbeing is ingrained into everything we do, from the pupils’ perspective. We have truly been able to put our pupils’ wellbeing at the centre of our practice.”

Furthermore, Queen Margaret’s, also named Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing in 2021, is working with other schools both locally and globally to share its expertise in the field. Staff are supporting the leaders of another school in York, and a school in West Africa to embed a strong mental health and wellbeing culture. They have also been invited to speak at a conference in Dubai, demonstrating QM’s position at the vanguard of wellbeing provision.

The award was established in 2017 by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – part of Leeds Beckett University – and social enterprise Minds Ahead.

The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools aims to strengthen pupils’ mental health by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK’s education system, improving pupils’ outcomes and life chances.

Rachel C. Boyle, Dean of Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “The achievement of the Mental Health award is a demonstration of the school’s significant commitment to improving children’s and staff’s mental health and wellbeing. It is also a commitment to developing practices in school that seek to improve awareness and expertise in creating safe and secure learning environments in which all children can truly fulfil their potential. This award is one that all staff can be truly proud of”.

Nationally, more than 1000 schools have signed up to take part in the mental health award.

Dean Johnstone, founder and CEO of Minds Ahead said: “This award shines a light on the excellent work schools are doing to promote mental health for their community of children and adults.”

“It is thrilling and humbling to learn about Queen Margaret’s and the many other schools engaged in the quality award process. I’d like to offer my congratulations on this deserved recognition.”

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