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Title of innovation provision: Mental Health Champions School Leader Programme

Date of innovation provision: Innovation Pathway February – July 2020

Contact details:

The process of applying for the Innovation pathway funding was very straight forward and supportive. Place2Be had a long-established Mental Health School Leader Programme operating in England and Scotland, but we needed support to review and adapt the programme, to contextualise for Wales, and run a pilot phase.

After the application process we had an interview to discuss our provision in detail. The National Academy for Educational Leadership were extremely helpful, supportive, and keen to work collaboratively. They not only provided the innovation funding, but importantly also introduced us to two of their Associates who could work with us on the project, which proved invaluable.

Our Mental Health Champions – School Leader Programme was developed for the Welsh context and made available bilingually. We piloted the programme in Rhondda Cynon Taf with a group of 8 schools and 16 school leaders (two from each school). The programme was designed around individual school consultation meetings at the start and end of the programme and a series of four group workshops across the space of two terms. This was supported with additional tools and resources such as the Place2Be Whole School Approach Audit Tool.

COVID-19 struck during the delivery of the pilot programme, so we adapted for online delivery. Despite the challenging circumstances, amongst those who participated in the training, the impact they reported included:

  • Sharing resources from the training to support the wider school team.
  • Better supporting well-being when the pupils returned to school after the first lockdown.
  • “It has been built into our weekly planning, with the assembly ideas being used fully across the school. It has helped me focus on the health and well-being of the whole school community, not just pupils.”
  • “As a result of COVID-19 and no longer being able to move between bubbles we trained children from all key stage 2 classes as well-being coaches to deliver daily mindfulness sessions (a quiet time to reflect and think about their breathing).”
  • “We developed a ‘drop-in café’ where parents could find out about internal services provided by the school and where they could access support.”

It has been a thoroughly positive and supportive experience. The National Academy for Educational Leadership worked collaboratively, sharing their knowledge and insights and helped us connect with the right people so we could properly develop and pilot the provision. They have always been quick to respond to any queries along the way and just been thoroughly supportive and encouraging throughout the process. We look forward to working with them through the endorsement process in the future.

“The programme provided the opportunity to look closely at school concerns re: mental health and we were able to devise an action plan. Although this was compiled prior to lockdown, it proved to be more relevant than ever during this time. The training was informative, and we were provided with a range of resources and further training opportunities, that other members of staff were also able to access. Linda [facilitator] was extremely sympathetic and supportive of our challenges.”
– Participant

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