Our school’s approach to mental health well-being…


A North Yorkshire school is putting mental health at the centre of its curriculum in a bid to improve the engagement and well-being of its pupils.

Great Smeaton Academy Primary School has introduced a number of routine exercises as part of the school week including daily yoga, Lego therapy and “Rainbows”- a workshop made available to children who’ve experienced loss are also part of support for good mental health.

Staff say the yoga is already having a positive effect with enhanced concentration levels, a better attitude to learning and improvements in the children’s balance and core strength during PE.

Alongside the mindfulness work, a team of ex Royal Marines has also visited the school for a “training day”. The children braved the elements to take part in activities including circuits, an obstacle courses, tug of war, problem solving exercises and campfire cooking to help demonstrate and better understand the importance of resilience.

Jack Hucker from Elite Commando Survival said

“The aim of the “Mini Marines” day is to promote the core values of the marines: Perseverance, determination, resilience, courage and humility. We want them to try something new and encourage to get outside and engage in physical activity”

Despite the weather, the children got stuck in and revelled in the mud and marshmallows.

Assistant Head Teacher Ralph Goodchild said

“Great Smeaton has always been a very happy school, but we want to ensure we are continuing to support our pupils in both their physical and emotional resilience. Government statistics from surveys carried out in 2017 showed that one in eight 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder, so we know it’s a growing issue nationally and wanted to make good mental health a priority within school. We are taking steps to ensure the whole school cohort feels able to talk about how they are feeling, and can take action to improve their wellbeing. And we are already seeing positive effects across the whole school”

The school’s focus on wellbeing comes as the government announced a trial in 370 schools to see how improvements in mental health can impact on learning. The announcement was made as part of work being done in Children’s mental health week.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said

“As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children, while potentially making others worse”

“Schools and teachers don’t have all the answers, nor could they, but we know they can play a special role which is why we have launched one of the biggest mental health trials in schools. These trials are key to improving our understanding of how practical, simple advice can help young people cope with the pressures they face”