Special school stories

Special school stories

Emotional health and wellbeing and healthy weight 1

We are a large special school providing education for children and young people with severe, complex and profound learning difficulties from across the county. Many of our children and young people have additional sensory difficulties such as hearing or visual impairment. We hold specialist status in three areas: sports, mathematics and computing, and modern foreign languages. We have been committed to Healthy Schools for over five years.

We aim to provide as stimulating and inspiring a learning environment as possible for every one of our children. We include in this opportunities to learning outside the school, both in local community activities and at mainstream schools. Our drive to provide the best in health and wellbeing support to our children and young people is overseen by our health and wellbeing group. This is led by one of our assistant head teachers and participants include a cross-section of staff and our school nurse.

Number of pupils - 290 students aged 4 – 19 year olds,

43% FSM, 100% SEN, 74% BME

Entry level qualification passed: 29%.

What needs did we identify?

We discussed the areas that our needs analysis should consider. We then used existing data, including data on attendance, teacher questionnaires looking at children's emotional health and wellbeing, and surveys of parents/carers and teaching assistants regarding children's health and wellbeing needs and behaviours.

For example, we looked at how many fruit and vegetables children were eating on a typical day. We also collected information about vulnerable groups in the school and identified as a need the limited participation in wider school activities by our looked- after children.

We decided our priorities would be to focus on improving emotional wellbeing and improving the healthy weight among our children and young people.

What outcomes did we focus on?

  • Increase the proportion of children and young people who participate in out-of-school physical activity clubs from 20 to 40 per cent.
  • Increase the number of overweight and obese children who have accessed targeted support from 0 to 12.
  • Increase the numbers who show improved self- confidence (as monitored through public speaking and peer support) from 41 to 62 children and young people.
  • Increase the looked-after children who feel well- supported at school (monitored through the number of students accessing inclusive activities) from 9 to 45 percent.

What activities/ interventions did we put in place?

We set up nutritional workshops for parents/ carers of children who are obese and overweight. We agreed with the Food Routes programme that, in addition to delivering the workshops, they would approach the parents/carers directly to offer further support, for example we carried out a 6 week 'big cook little cook' session. This involved practical cookery sessions which encouraged parents/carers and their children to eat a variety of foods and learn together about cooking and healthier eating.

We developed a targeted approach to involving looked-after children who have lower attendance at out-of-school activities by regularly monitoring attendance and proactively encouraging their participation. We hired a specialist sports apprentice to deliver physical activity sessions who could tailor the activities to meet the needs of the children.

What did we achieve, and how did we know?

Parents/carers and children are now more knowledgeable about healthy eating following the 'big cook, little cook' sessions and workshops.

Children are now more actively participating in out-of-school physical activity clubs following implementation of a specialist sports apprentice to deliver physical activity sessions.

Our teachers now have easy access to information about our looked-after children, and they track their progress across the curriculum as well as participation in activities.

What will we do next?

We are now looking at how we can use and adapt our PSHE programme to further improve the self-confidence of children and young people. We have recently introduced PSHE mornings, which parents/carers are invited to attend.

Each morning has a theme of an aspect of emotional health and wellbeing. Parents/carers can find out about the knowledge and skills their children are developing relating to emotional health and wellbeing. We are also currently identifying a range of opportunities for children to speak publicly within school and build their self- confidence in this way.

Senior leader quote:

'We are very proud of the outcomes we have achieved, children a lot more confident and engaging in more physical activities. We aim to continue this work and the interventions put in place.'

Emotional health and wellbeing and healthy weight 2

We are a happy, family-friendly Community special school for 3-11 year olds. Our children have moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and many of our children also have EAL. We have recently relocated into a new building on a shared site with a mainstream primary school, including communal outdoor spaces and eating areas. Our partnerships with parents/carers, health professionals and mainstream schools are really important to providing good support for our children's health and wellbeing.

Number of pupils: We currently have 89 children on site, 51% FSM, 100% SEN

What needs did we identify?

We identified and gathered existing data, which helped us to better understand our children's health and wellbeing needs at a school level. This included PSHE progress and expected targets, parent/carer satisfaction questionnaires, records of annual reviews with parents/carers and student questionnaires.

Our recent relocation has resulted in a smaller outdoor space, which our children need to learn to share with children from the mainstream school. We were concerned about the effect of this on wellbeing.

Following discussions, we selected two priorities: improving emotional health and wellbeing, and the prevalence of healthy weight among children and young people.

What outcomes did we focus on?

  • Increase the number of children (years 2, 3 and 4) who say they are happy with their outside environment.
  • Decrease in the number of children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) who exhibit challenging behaviours at lunchtimes.
  • Increase from in the number of children from year 2, 3 and 4 who participate regularly in physical activity clubs

What activities/ interventions did we put in place?

We made changes to the outdoor environment to improve emotional and physical health by creating a new grass area, bike storage space and by investing in play equipment.

We worked with our the primary school on our shared site to create joint activity clubs at lunchtime and a joint Friends Against Bullying (FAB) club to improve understanding between the two groups of children. Some of our children have been trained as play leaders and help to organise lunchtime activities.

We have built on our active involvement in the local schools sports partnership to successfully encourage external partners to run activities for free, including street dance, golf, and tennis. Year 11s from a local grammar school also run a lunchtime athletics club for our children.

What did we achieve, and how did we know?

A greater number of students have stated they feel happy with their outside environment.

There is an increase of children who actively participate in joint school life.

More students participate regularly in physical activity clubs and exhibit less challenging behaviours at lunchtimes.

What will we do next?

We are beginning to monitor our early milestones, which will provide us with evidence of the impact we are already having on our children's knowledge and health behaviours.

We are about to start a 'food growing club' so that children can learn practically about benefits of fruit and vegetables. We hope to coordinate with the school kitchen so that produce can be used in some school dinners. In this way children will better understand how their food is prepared and cooked.

We also plan to encourage parent/carer involvement in the food growing club to promote their understanding of healthy eating and increase parent-school engagement.

Senior leader quote:

'As a school, it has made us think about our priorities. For us it's been a good process to actually record the steps and to be able to show that there has been an impact.'