Wellbeing Policy and Planning

Implementation of the government Wellbeing policy

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The implementation and monitoring of the Department of Education’s “Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice” has been guided by key principles, as follows:

  • Child/Young person-centred: The wellbeing needs and the best interests of our children and young people are a central focus of this policy. This requires us to respect and value the voice of children and young people and foster their belonging and connectedness to the school community. This ensures a sound developmental base for present and future wellbeing, as well as academic achievement.
  • Equitable, fair and inclusive: All children and young people need access to equitable, fair and inclusive opportunities to develop their wellbeing in ways that are responsive and suitable to their particular needs and contexts. Practices need to be tailored, responsive and relevant, building on the existing strengths of children and young people, school staff, families and school communities. This means that practices will vary across schools and centres for education and from student to student.
  • Evidence-informed: This policy promotes the use of evidence-informed practice, which brings together local experience and expertise with the best available evidence from research. It acknowledges that what works in one context may not be appropriate or feasible in another.
  • Outcomes focused: This policy promotes continuous improvement practices and the use of data relating to outcomes to guide practice in our schools in relation to the promotion of wellbeing for all children and young people. This policy and framework for practice will ensure the use of a self-reflection process for the identification, monitoring and review of outcomes.
  • Partnership/Collaboration: The wellbeing of our children and young people is a shared responsibility. Working in partnership with other departments and agencies is key to ensuring this policy is implemented.

The Department of Education’s “Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice” outlines:

  • What do we mean by wellbeing?
  • The role of schools and centres for education in promoting wellbeing
  • What is already happening in the system and in schools?
  • What needs to happen next?

The following definition of Wellbeing aims to take account of its multi-dimensional nature (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2001).

Wellbeing is present when a person realises their potential, is resilient in dealing with the normal stresses of their life, takes care of their physical wellbeing and has a sense of purpose, connection and belonging to a wider community. It is a fluid way of being and needs nurturing throughout life.

Research indicates that a multi-component, preventative, whole school approach to the promotion of wellbeing, with interventions at both universal and targeted levels, is the most beneficial and evidence-informed approach for schools.

To implement government Wellbeing policy, it was envisaged (pre-Covid) that every school would be required (by 2023) to use the School Self-Evaluation (SSE) process to initiate a Wellbeing promotion review and development cycle. Plans were significantly interrupted due to the Covid pandemic and associated school closures but now, as we return to a new normal, schools will be supported in this process through using the Wellbeing Framework for Practice and Wellbeing Resources. Schools firstly will select wellbeing promotion as a topic for SSE. At an information-gathering stage, schools will consult with and collect information from key stakeholders (including pupils, staff and parents) relating to current practice in the key areas of wellbeing promotion. This information is essential in order to highlight positive aspects and strengths in their practice and identify areas for development – an analysis and judgement stage. This analysis will inform actions for wellbeing in one selected area. At an intervention stage, appropriate school interventions and strategies will be generated and agreed. Schools will incorporate these actions into their School Improvement Plan (SIP). Steps will be put in place to implement the agreed actions. At the monitoring stage actions will be reviewed on an ongoing basis which will assist schools in evaluating impact and tracking their progress in this process of continuous improvement.

In Scoil Naomh Buithe, we are in the early stages of planning a school evaluation of Wellbeing in the four areas of:

  • Culture and Environment
  • Curriculum (teaching and learning)
  • Policy and Planning, and
  • Relationships and Partnerships.

Using the WELLBEING STATEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE PRACTICE FOR ALL, we will evaluate current practice with the following indicators of success:

  • Children, young people and staff experience a sense of belonging and feel safe, connected and supported.
  • Systems are in place so that the voices of the pupil, staff member and parent are heard and lead to improvements in school culture and procedures
  • Children and young people experience positive and high-quality teaching, learning and assessment which provides opportunities for success for all.
  • Children and young people access curricular activities to promote th.eir physical, social and emotional competence to enhance their overall wellbeing.
  • Schools use a Self-Evaluation Wellbeing Promotion Process to develop, implement and review wellbeing promotion.
  • Schools incorporate wellbeing promotion into whole school policies and practices.
  • Pupils, staff members and other external partners are actively involved in

wellbeing promotion within the school community.

  • All adults in the school have an increased awareness of the importance of wellbeing promotion, including listening to pupils and signposting them to internal or external pathways for support when needed.

In the early part of 2023/24, questionnaires will be distributed to pupils, staff and parents in order to determine areas of strength and to identify areas for improvement.

Currently, Wellbeing in our school is operating on a continuum with

  • Support for All
  • Support for Some, and
  • Support for a Few.

Support for All: a process of prevention, effective mainstream teaching, early identification and intervention for children who are showing mild or transient signs of difficulty. School support for ALL is embedded within every classroom and part of a whole school approach to mental health promotion.

  • Scoil Naomh Buithe prioritises regular review and development of policies relating to wellbeing such as child safeguarding, anti-bullying and critical incidents.
  • The voices of pupils, parents and staff inform the development, review and updating of many school policies.
  • Our mission statement contains the sentence “Scoil Naomh Buithe endeavours to enhance the self-esteem of everyone in the school community and to empower all, especially the pupils, to be kind and friendly, respectful and tolerant, confident, resilient and independent.”
  • The school building, grounds, classrooms, bathrooms and work spaces are well maintained and appropriately furnished, creating a welcoming, safe and warm environment.
  • The indoor space displays the work, talents and accomplishments of children and young people.
  • School leaders and management understand the link between physical activity and wellbeing and facilitate physical activity and movement breaks within the school environment.
  • Our school has a two year SPHE plan which ensures all strands and strand units are covered during the two year cycle and we also have a Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy.
  • We have a Students Council to ensure that the voices of children are heard and we encourage teachers to seek pupil’s opinions on their learning throughout our classrooms.
  • School leaders and management acknowledge the importance of staff wellbeing and promote this in a variety of ways including recognition of the value of staff contribution and their work.
  • School leaders and management ensure that appropriate support mechanisms are put in place for staff wellbeing and details of the Employee Assistance Service and other relevant supports are made available to staff.
  • Management supports staff to help them sustain their own mental health and well-being, using the PIEW (plan, implement, embed, wait) model to avoid overloading staff with new initiatives in any given year.
  • Our school uses the Education Passport (NCCA) for pupils transitioning to post primary school and we have a transition programme for our 6th class children moving to secondary school.
  • We have built good relationships with the local pre-school to plan for successful transitions of the majority of our incoming Junior Infants.
  • We prioritise fostering effective partnerships with parents and we have developed relationships with the wider school community including sporting organisations. We also liaise with appropriate external agencies and services e.g. NEPS psychologists, NCSE special education needs organisers, HSE health promotion and improvement division, primary care teams, and Tusla child and family services.
  • Two members of staff received training in the Friends for Life Programme to develop resilience in our children and, as one of those teachers is no longer on staff, further training for two more teachers will be sought early in the new school year.
  • We have a Healthy Eating policy and, if parents wish, they can order healthy school lunches through The Lunch Bag company which delivers to the school.
  • In P.E., we are developing physically literate children through the lens of Fundamental Movement Skills.
  • Children of all abilities are welcome to join the school choir.
  • There are a number of Lunchtime and After-school Clubs; including Lunchtime/board games, Drama, Knitting, Quiz, Coding and Gaelic training.
  • We promote the 4 pillars of Inclusion, Kindness, Respect and Fun in our classrooms and at break times.
  • We have a buddy bench in the yard.
  • There is a positive approach to discipline where issues are resolved with care, respect and consistency.
  • Our recent engagement with national Anti-bullying initiatives resulted in a school-wide project and display to reflect the motto of “No to Bullying, Yes to Kindness”.
  • In time, we hope to apply for the Pieta House Amber Flag award. This is an initiative run by Pieta House which recognises the individual efforts of primary schools to create healthy, inclusive environments that support mental wellbeing.

Support for Some: embedded in a whole school approach and focuses on identifying the small number of young people who are at risk of developing unhealthy patterns of behaviour or those who are already showing early behavioural signs of mental health difficulties

  • Staff and pupils are welcoming and inclusive of those from different cultural backgrounds and those with additional needs.
  • Teachers design and prepare for differentiated teaching methods and assessment of learning outcomes for pupils at risk or with additional and/or complex needs so that they experience a sense of achievement.
  • The school deploys resources based on individual learning, behavioural, social and emotional needs under the Special Education Teaching Allocation model.
  • School-based information is used, in conjunction with reports from external professionals, to set guidelines and recommendations for individualised supports for children and young people with additional needs.
  • A student support file is used to plan, record and review progress.
  • Individual behaviour plans will be drawn up for children who display behaviours of concern. These plans will be drawn up in collaboration with parents, class teachers, Special Education Teachers (SETs) and the Principal and discussed/reviewed regularly, at least termly.
  • We use the NEPs Continuum of Support model for children which enables us to identify students’ educational needs, to include academic, social and emotional needs, as well as needs associated with physical, sensory, language and communication difficulties. The Continuum of Support enables us to identify and respond to needs in a flexible way. This means that needs can be responded to as early as possible and pupils with the greatest level of need have access to the greatest levels of support. SETs provide supports in Language, Literacy and Maths but also look after other needs through, for example, social skills groups, nurture sessions and emotional literacy.
  • Our team of SNAs work in collaboration with teachers and parents to support children with additional needs. Personal Pupil Profiles are drawn up for these children which identify the challenges, establish targets and put in place strategies to achieve the targets. SNAs have access to the Sensory room to meet the needs of these children.
  • A Summer Programme is available to children with complex additional needs and those at risk of educational disadvantage.
  • For a small minority of pupils, attendance incentives are in place, punctuality is deprioritised and attendance is encouraged/supported at any time of the morning.
  • The school demonstrates commitment to identifying, including and providing targeted supports for children and young people experiencing barriers and challenges to wellbeing and learning.

Support for a Few: a particular focus on putting interventions in place for children with more complex and enduring needs.

  • A small number of children require intensive individualised programmes. These children are usually identified when interventions at School Support for Some stage have been insufficient to meet their needs.
  • We have a sensory room in our school which is available to more than 20 children on a regular basis and to any pupil in times of need as identified by the class teacher.
  • Befriending and buddy systems are in place for some pupils who require support to interact with peers.
  • Specialist technology is acquired as necessary.
  • We have access to advice and support from a NEPS psychologist, and all decisions in relation to pupils requiring significant supports are made in consultation with staff and parents.
  • We have 3 SETs and 6 SNAs who are highly committed to looking after the welfare of the pupils in their care and who regularly show great flexibility as required.
  • We have an extremely supportive Board of Management which provides funding for assessments urgently required for a minority of pupils but not available to them through public channels and/or in a timely fashion.

COMMUNICATION, IMPLEMENTATION & REVIEW

This policy and planning document has been made available to all school personnel and is readily accessible to parents and pupils on request. Implementation of the policy will be monitored by the principal of the school. In general, the policy/planning document and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year, or sooner if requested by any party. It is important to note here that early next year (as part of School Self Evaluation and School Improvement Planning) the procedures and plans will be thoroughly reviewed and updated as necessary. On-going review and evaluation will take cognisance of changing information or guidelines, legislation and feedback from parents/guardians, pupils, staff and others.

This policy/planning document was ratified and adopted by the Board of Management at a meeting held on Wednesday 31st May 2023.

Signed: Patrick Logue (Chairperson BOM)

Signed: Anne Phillips (Principal)

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