Upper Wharfedale is the first maintained secondary school in North Yorkshire to have been commended for their focus on students and staff wellbeing by being awarded the Carnegie Centre of Excellence Mental Health Award for Schools.
Mrs Helen Mukherjee, Assistant head said it was a ‘proud’ achievement but added that ‘achieving recognition of this type is pleasing but looking forward I am more interested in what we can do to continue to support our young people moving forward’. She added ‘Mental health is something close to all our hearts, and I think the work we do is really important. I really hope it makes a difference to both our students and staff’.
Liz Dawson assessor for the Carnegie Centre of Excellence in Schools Mental Health in Schools Award said ‘Upper Wharfedale is a family orientated small community school where every child is known. It has a nurturing aspect and students know that they can ask for help from anyone.
The School Mental Health Award framework has enabled the school to focus on what was being done and areas for development. Stigma around mental health and wellbeing has been “completely reduced”. “Talking about emotions and how you feel has been completely normalised.”
The school has a wide range of provision in support of wellbeing of their children, “making it real, it’s not something that’s hidden away”. Student surveys have given honest and open answers which help the school to guide the students towards self-harm support, mindfulness, support for eating disorders and other specific areas to help them. The school celebrates the achievements of its students and widely publicises the support it gives for example through high quality videos where pupils talk about the activities they have participated in and the impact they have had. The school’s increased focus on SEMH and improvements in behaviour have gone hand-in-hand in recent years. The “impact has been amazing; there is a calmness in school”.