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Spotlight on Wellbeing at Kingswear Primary

As research continues to emerge about the negative impact of the pandemic on children’s mental

health, one local school has taken a proactive approach to addressing issues of wellbeing, supporting

its children and families since the return to school in September.

A 2020 government report, Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, compiled by the

Office for National Statistics in conjunction with the University of Exeter has revealed that one in six

(16%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing

from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. Of these children, more than half reported that lockdown made

their lives worse.

As Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator for a group of primary schools when the pandemic struck

in the Spring, Head of School at Kingswear Primary, Sarah Lord, noticed a pattern emerging as she

contacted families throughout the lockdown:

“Families frequently reported increased anxiety in their children as the lockdown progressed.

However, the anxiety predominantly stemmed from two distinctly different viewpoints. Some

children missed the routine and structure of school, whilst others thrived in the home environment

and were anxious about returning to school.”

As a qualified counsellor, Sarah recognised that schools needed to consider the therapeutic needs

which would be evident as the children returned to school, as well as the academic ‘catch up’

requirements. As she transitioned to the role of Head of School at Kingswear Primary in the summer

term, she worked with the school staff to create a curriculum and policies which would address

these needs.

The school has adopted relational practice which places relationships at the heart of all the school

does. Staff work hard to build strong, trusting and resilient relationships with pupils and their

parents. The return to school focused on supporting children to feel safe and comfortable in the

school environment once more, with emotional support taking priority. The leadership also signed

up for the Wellbeing in Schools Award, which gave them a framework for developing this approach;

from pre-school to year 6, feelings are discussed daily and the whole school participates in weekly

lessons which help them to recognise and support their own mental health. They also take part in

Forest School sessions once a week as the mental health benefits of being outdoors are so well recognised.

So far, it has been a great success, with children and parents reporting reduced levels of anxiety and

greater awareness of their own feelings and wellbeing. The school recently carried out parental

surveys and 100% of parents said they would recommend the school to others, as their child feels

happy, safe and is well looked after at Kingswear Primary. One parent commented: “This new 2020

start feels really positive. Particularly the increased focus upon the children’s emotional education/


The school continues to look at building upon this positive start, and take the children forward in

their learning to catch up on any gaps emerging from their lockdown experience. The teachers are

keen to ensure that the children use the skills they are building as confident and happy learners to

maximise their opportunities for academic success. “We are aware that as a small school we have a

unique opportunity to really get to know our children and families, and offer a very personalised

learning experience for each individual child. We also know that when our children feel happy,