Harrogate High - Vicky Green, Medical Room Nurse and Associate Assistant Head, Emma Dobson
Harrogate High - Vicky Green, Medical Room Nurse and Associate Assistant Head, Emma Dobson

Harrogate High School talk about their approach to good mental health on World Mental Health Day

10 October 2019

World Mental Health Day 2019 is on the 10 October and we spoke to Harrogate High School about good mental health for their students.

The approach is all about equipping both the students and teachers with a toolkit of strategies to lead to better wellbeing – it flows through all aspects of school life rather than being an add-on for any children struggling.

Emma Dobson, Associate Assistant Head, said:

In baselining where we are at currently with mental health in our own school community, we have looked outwardly to examples set by other schools. As a result, we have formulated a personalised solution for all members of our community, passionately recognising that this needs to be at the heart of everything we do. Being a relatively small secondary school allows us to know all our students well, to build a responsive approach that encompasses all.

Our students are only with us for a short time of their lives and it is integral to us that in that time, we equip them with the skills needed to be an outstanding member of a community in the ever changing 21st century landscape. Through our long-term strategy of the 6 ways to wellbeing, we are equipping students with a toolkit of skills to ensure that they are well rounded and balanced individuals, able to reflectively deal with a wide range of complex issues.

We are always aiming to promote courage and aspiration in our students and feel that the 6 ways of wellbeing are integral to that. The 6 ways of wellbeing integrates into the curriculum and pastoral time and it is used daily.

The 6 ways to wellbeing are

  1. Be Active
  2. Keep Learning
  3. Give
  4. Connect
  5. Take Notice
  6. Care For The Planet
Harrogate High School
Harrogate High School

Emma Dobson said:​

The 6 ways to wellbeing strategy is primarily during VMG (Vertical Mentoring Groups) which allows students to work with students from other year groups with their dedicated VM tutor. The ways to wellbeing are also woven into whole school off timetable days and the renewed core PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic education) programme which will be delivered fortnightly after Christmas. Students also have weekly assemblies that incorporate the 6 ways, instilling longevity and gravitas into our approach.

The school has a structure that gives easy access to support, from form tutor, Student support officers (who have a year each), the wider pastoral team and Vicky Green, the Medical Room Nurse.

Students are well supported by the pastoral team as well as being provided with access to external support agencies such as Just B and Compass Buzz. Both Just B and Compass Buzz provide a wide range of support for physical and mental health. Outside of school hours, a diverse range of enrichment activities is offered to all students.

Activities include: gardening, sports activities, vintage games club, musical ensembles, STEM clubs and opportunities to build links with the community. We are also actively working with Granby Care Home in the community and are always looking to continue to strengthen and build community links in the local, regional and national arenas.

Exam pressure is often talked of as significant contributor to stress of young people both within schools and nationally in the media. As well as the 6 ways to wellbeing being embedded in daily practise, all teaching staff teach responsively to all classes to create bespoke programmes of learning for all.

  • Responsiveness: using formative assessment techniques to plan bespoke sequences of learning that respond to individual groups needs
  • Spaced practice: teaching material once then returning to it in a systematic manner to ensure mastery and retention of knowledge and skills over time

Emma Dobson said:

It’s important that what we do isn’t just tokenistic and that it really works for our students. The work we are doing is continuing to evolve and doesn’t just stop during school time.

We have a reflective culture that is always striving to improve.

Mental health is an area of focus for us this year and we look forward to running more workshops with parents moving forwards and developing our strategy further as we work towards the Mentally Healthy Schools Award.

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