Wellbeing and pastoral care

Looking after yourself and others

The importance of wellbeing

The wellbeing of the children is at the heart of everything Prospect House does. A warm and nurturing environment along with the excellent relationships between the children and the staff means that no child has any doubt their teachers will lend a safe and sympathetic ear whenever they may need it. Understanding the challenges that each child faces is crucial, and from this we have created a comprehensive pastoral programme to support the children in our care.

Wellbeing in childhood sets the stage for positive mental health, resilience, and the ability to cope with challenges later in life. It also plays a crucial role in a child’s ability to learn and thrive in various aspects of their development, from academic achievements to building essential life skills such as being healthy, having strong relationships with family and friends, feeling safe and secure, and enjoying activities that bring them joy.

A whole school ethos of wellbeing

The level of pastoral care at Prospect House is outstanding not only because all our staff are involved, but also because we have many initiatives to ensure a whole-school ethos of emotional awareness and resilience.

In Years 1 and 2, we run DOTS sessions, a classroom-based curriculum for children aged 3-6, teaching them about their personal, social and emotional development, whilst developing their resilience and thinking skills. The children learn methods to help themselves self-regulate when experiencing a range of emotions and during the course will focus on making good choices, ways to help themselves concentrate and how to respond rather than react.

The ‘High Five for Wellbeing’ is also an embedded part of the Lower School ethos. The five areas are resilience, gratitude, physical wellbeing, helping others and reflection. Throughout the year these are discussed both in assemblies and within the classroom, whilst initiatives such as a gratitude jar and a perseverance post box have been implemented to encourage the children to frequently reflect on these areas.

In the Upper School, through the twelve-week ‘Paws b’ mindfulness curriculum, children learn about specific areas of the brain and how to recognise when their bodies or minds feel busy or out of balance. The children explore how mindfulness practices can support them in daily activities including emotional self-regulation, concentration and relationships.

As the children move through the school, we want to continue providing them with more tools to help themselves in stressful situations and in Year 6, they build upon their mindfulness learning in the ‘.breathe’ sessions. The children focus on skills such as working with others, why humans worry and the importance of sleep. These sessions are particularly designed to support children around key transition periods, such as the one from primary to secondary school.

We run regular ‘strengths assessments’ in which each child identifies what they love to do and how they connect with others. Additionally, they identify what they would like to do more easily and come up with a plan in which school can support them. This exercise is reviewed termly and any mental health or wellbeing concerns are raised. It also helps us get to know the children better together with how they view themselves and allows children to celebrate all their strengths, not just their academic ones.

Creating a supportive environment

At Prospect House we believe it is vital to teach the children how to recognise when they need more support and to create an environment where talking to each other about how we feel is part of normal life. We have a school ‘chatterbox’ where the children can write down thoughts that they would like to share. This might be a worry that they have, in which case, a teacher will then talk to that student to address their concerns. The children can also write down acts of kindness shown by their peers or members of staff that they want to celebrate. These are recognised each week in our celebration assembly and their names are added to our Kindness Tree.

In this ever increasing world of technology, it is imperative that we give the children a safe space to report online concerns and therefore Year 5 and 6 have access to ‘Tootoot’ which is an online app. This allows them to submit any occurrences on social platforms which worry them and staff are notified immediately so they can quickly deal with any concerns.

One of our newer initiatives is the introduction of ‘Wellbeing Ambassadors’. These ambassadors are children in Year 4 and 5 who have been trained to support the wellbeing of their peers. They focus on a positive emotion each half term and run activities to support their classmates. The school also has a communication jar, where children can write directly to the Wellbeing Ambassadors.

Smooth transitions for seamless growth

There are certain key moments in a child’s life and starting school is definitely one of them! Prior to starting at Prospect House, children are invited to a number of induction events, familiarising themselves with a new environment and classmates.

An integral part of our ethos is fostering a connection that goes beyond the school gates and we work closely with parents to ensure a smooth transition. There is also a buddy system, pairing children with a mentor from an older year group to help create a supportive network where the older students guide and look out for their younger peers, fostering a sense of belonging and community.

To make sure that the secondary school transition process is as seamless as possible we have a system of tutor groups in Year 6. Students meet in small groups with a member of staff each week to talk about their experiences and share any thoughts or concerns they may have. This allows the children to have a safe and contained environment, with a member of staff that they know well, to voice and discuss anything on their minds whilst enabling us to keep an extra eye on how they are coping.

Throughout the last half term of the year this transition process is a particular area of focus and a special curriculum is run which includes giving the children the chance to hear from headteachers of secondary schools and past pupils, as well as get into deeper discussions around topics such as discrimination and diversity, relationship and sex education and keeping safe online.

Getting parents involved

It is important to us that parents are involved in the pastoral care programme at Prospect House. We organise ‘Wellbeing Walks’ on Putney Heath where the parents are encouraged to take time out of their day to come along and walk with their child. We also have occasional no homework weeks where children are asked to do something with their families such as cook, read, play in the garden.

There are many events arranged throughout the year to get parents involved in school life. In the autumn term all the parents are invited in for an afternoon to spend with their children taking part in an activity such as a teddy bears picnic, bingo, strategic board games, or ‘cardboard creations’. Throughout the year we also invite parents in for special occasions to spend quality time with their children including Valentines Tea parties, French Breakfasts and the hotly contested Adults vs Children chess matches.

Meeting new challenges

At Prospect House, the holistic approach of smooth transitions, mindfulness practices, targeted support and a whole school ethos of wellbeing creates an environment where every child thrives.

Our dedicated Head of Pastoral and Pupil Welfare meets with every class teacher each half term to discuss the wellbeing of all the children in their class. A school-created system is used in these meetings to monitor the children’s mental health so, by the end of the year, we can see how each child’s wellbeing has been throughout the year.

Our lovely wellbeing room allows for counselling to take place for children in a safe and comfortable environment. We offer blocks of weekly 1:1 sessions with a staff member who holds qualifications in child counselling and mental wellbeing. These sessions are unique to each child, focusing on their individual needs and helping them to make sense of their thoughts and feelings.

We collaborate closely with both parents and class teachers to assess the child’s progress, discuss any challenges, and identify specific areas that may require additional support. The overarching focus of these sessions is to empower children with practical strategies and coping mechanisms, enabling them to effectively navigate challenging situations and regulate their emotions.