Heathlands takes a holistic approach to pupils’ development and recognises our role in promoting positive physical and mental health and wellbeing.
As qualified Teachers of the Deaf, our teaching staff are aware that deaf pupils are more likely to be exposed to a range of risk factors that can cause mental health difficulties. Deafness itself is not a cause of mental health problems, but can lead to greater exposure to risk factors such as discrimination, communication barriers, social isolation, limited interaction with family and community and so on. As parents, communicating with your child is the most significant support that you can provide to boost their wellbeing. If needed, Heathlands can support you improve your British Sign Language (BSL) skills. Ask your child’s form tutor or class teacher to put you in touch with our BSL centre manager who can give you details about our parent sign language group. There are also many online BSL courses, such as this free Level 1 course:
Particularly during this global pandemic, chatting together with your child and answering their questions will help them to feel safe and supported. Our wellbeing guide for parents gives tips and ideas from how you could do this, especially if you child is feeling anxious. Specific information to help you discuss COVID-19 and current restrictions is available in BSL here:
At heathlands we promote positive wellbeing through teaching pupils about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. You can use the information slides below to support you to adopt this approach with your child at home. Research has shown that over use of social media is linked with increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Please use the resources on our e-Safety page and Anti-Bullying pages to help you teach your child to use social media safely and responsibly. Limiting screen time can be controlled using the settings on your devices, see for example:
In addition to the wellbeing aspects of the curriculum covered in PSHE lessons; pupils have a diverse range of opportunities at Heathlands to enhance their confidence, independence and resilience skills. The student leadership programme is one such opportunity and has seen a huge uptake in the number pupils applying to access this programme. Through this structured programme students develop responsibility, contribute to the community, develop British values, create SMSC opportunities and gain a sense of ownership for the leadership of the school.
As a Hertfordshire Steps school, our therapeutic approach to behaviour management places the mental health and wellbeing of pupils at the core of our approach by focusing on care and control, teaching internal discipline and emphasising recognition of positive behaviour. Our pastoral care takes a graduated approach. Small class sizes allow class teachers and form tutors to establish meaningful relationships with pupils and have time to support their individual social-emotional needs. In upper school twice daily contact with form groups as well as our substantial lunchtime allows tutors to provide enhanced emotional, well-being and conflict management support. As parents we encourage you to have regular contact with your child’s class teacher or form tutor to liaise with them to maximise the wrap around support provided to your child. A mentoring programme provides further targeted support for pupils working on specific areas such as friendship skills, managing emotions, personal organisation and so on. Through the backing of the charity Sign Health, Heathlands has a qualified play therapist one day a week to provide higher level, targeted support to pupils with specific difficulties.
Our whole school approach to promoting positive mental health is accentuated by regular awareness events throughout the year. Heathlands participates in local and national events such as Anti-bullying week and Hertfordshire’s Just Talk and Feeling Good weeks. Miss Naomi Jarrett, Pastoral Care Lead is our Mental Health Lead.
Further sources of information: