Wellbeing at the heart of academic achievement at Giggleswick School
Ben Harris

How we look after our pupils at Giggleswick is equally important as academic achievement.

Wellbeing is placed at the centre of everything we do. It is embedded into lessons, co-curricular activities, boarding and day pupil life – and the school’s values of Participation, Respect and Ambition are representative of how important it is to develop the whole child.

We believe that looking after a child’s wellbeing, not only comes before academic success, but also lays the foundation on which achievement can be built.

Christian San José, Deputy Headmaster, oversees wellbeing at the school. He said: “Obviously schools are a place of education, so everything we do has got to focus on a provision of good learning. But it is also incumbent on us to ensure each child is safe, looked after and given the chance to thrive.

“Societal changes have really pushed good mental health and wellbeing to the forefront of people’s minds, and that’s a good thing. We should be looking out for each other and be comfortable having these conversations.

“What it’s not about is a lessening of expectations. In fact, it’s the opposite. By giving children the tools and support they need, and chances to do new things and pursue their own interests, we are able to push them to achieve and develop their confidence.”

Mr San José added: “One thing we’re very insistent on is a strong pastoral triangle between pupils, parents and us, and flow of information and conversations between each of the three corners of that triangle, recognising that supporting wellbeing is done in partnership with home.”

Wellbeing is about ensuring all children have a balance throughout the week between class-based learning, being active, being creative and reaching out to support others.

The school’s CAS (Creative, Active, Service) Programme provides over 70 different activities which range from academic enrichment, sport to creative classes and service across the community.

The school has been awarded the Silver Award by the Leeds Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, which is designed to ensure robust strategies are in place to enable a whole-school approach to wellbeing.

Emma-Jane Wharton, Head of Middle School and Assistant Pastoral Lead, said: “Having a comprehensive strategy is essential and it is wonderful that ours has been recognised by Leeds Carnegie. Wellbeing is at the heart of everything that we do, and it is fully embedded into all aspects of the school’s curriculum, from Curriculum for Life lessons (our PSHE curriculum) and chapel services, to co-curricular activities and weekly tutorials.

“One of the most important things is that children know they have someone to talk to. The child’s Housemaster or Housemistress is the key figure in their pastoral care, and our experienced Senior House Staff team play a vital role in helping ensure that the students enjoy good mental health. In addition, every child has a personal tutor, who not only looks after their academic progress, but has regular daily contact with them.

“We also actively encourage the pupils to talk to their peers and in the Senior Boarding Houses the Sixth Form mentors are a great source of support for younger pupils. Each year our Lower Sixth are given the opportunity to become mental health ambassadors as part of a Peer Education Project, which gives them specific training in wellbeing and mental health and enables them to deliver workshops to the Year 7 pupils.”