With high numbers of students entering the school with low prior attainment scores, and relatively high numbers of disadvantaged students, PE teacher, and Head of Year Stuart Cadman identified that there was a need to grasp the opportunity and develop a more focused approach to student wellbeing. With his PE background, Stuart identified that PE provided a perfect opportunity.
Stuart attended the My Personal Best training, facilitated by Youth Sport Trust, and from then decided to set about using some of the resource cards and ‘slowly and subtly’ building the principles and language into his PE lessons, with one of his Year 7 classes. Starting with resilience, and carefully selecting just a few of the ‘wellbeing key words’ to bring into his classroom. Stuart slowly but steadily built more and more of these skills into his lessons. By way of impact, baseline assessments (using a simple Google form) before and after these approaches showed a significant increase in the students’ own understanding of these terms, and also a marked increase in the class of resilience, teamwork and communication.
From his own lessons, Stuart has now started to develop this into the whole school, and it is ‘poised’ to play a central part school wide in the near future.
A whole school focus on re-branding over the last 12 months provided him with excellent timing and allowed some corporate branding to feature key aspects of the wellbeing approach. One quick tour around the school shows that there are:
- Displays around the whole school, showcasing on elegant signage, each of these key words
- A focus, front and centre, on the school’s website
- A clever ‘Wellbeing at Pleckgate’ logo (featuring physical, social and emotional imagery) subtly adorning much of the display around the school, including the main reception
- A staircase in the PE corridor, with the key wellbeing words placed between each step
- Displays in the PE and other departments, featuring students’ work showing how Pleckgate teaches PE to be about ‘More than PE’.
These clever techniques attempt to weave the principles into the everyday fabric and culture of the school, and Stuart has been keen to stress a ‘subtle’ approach. This is focused around ‘minimal workload’ for other people and ‘taking their time’ to do it well, rather than to launch it all at once with an initiative, before the school was ready. Keen to stress that there is still much work to do in this area to roll this out further. Stuart is about to do a short presentation to other Heads of Department, using a small but dedicated group of teachers in the CPD group he leads.
Keys to success
Some top tips and approaches about how this was launched and initiated:
- Gaining senior leadership buy-in
- Actively consider workload and try to keep this as minimal as possible
- Reward staff and students via awards at assembly
- Be patient; don’t rush it
- Look for opportunities to roll out and capitalise when they appear – don’t force it
- Build a team around you
- Have real-life links and examples of where this works
- Make it work for you – My PB is a ‘big’ resource with a lot in it – pick out the bits that work for you.
I really like the fact that this is something that ties in with other areas of school. Stuart Cadman, Pleckgate High School, Blackburn