Wells Cathedral School receives Wellbeing Award

WELLS Cathedral School has announced that it has received Optimus Education’s prestigious Wellbeing Award.

Developed in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, the award is granted to schools who are able to demonstrate that they have made significant changes to their long-term wellbeing culture for pupils, parents and staff.

The school’s application for the award was led by Damian Todres, Head of the Creative Arts Faculty and Mental Health Lead, and Martin Ashton, Deputy Head (Pastoral). They presented a large amount of evidence that was gathered over a 12-month period, reflecting initiatives designed for pupils at all stages of their education – from Nursery to the Sixth Form – as well as for parents and staff.

Some of the highlighted initiatives included:

● ‘The Havenette’ in the Nursery, a tepee with cushions and mood lighting where pupils can retreat when in need of a quiet space

● Therapy dogs in the Prep School, available to comfort pupils while they talk through their feelings

● Wellbeing Wednesdays across the Senior School, an in-depth programme covering topics such as stress management and resilience, positive relationships, healthy lifestyle choices and emotional intelligence

● Pupil Wellbeing Captains in the Sixth Form, enabling pupils to voice their own ideas about how the school can improve its provision, as well as provide support to other pupils who would prefer to talk to a peer

● Training 20 staff as Mental Health First Aid Champions, giving them a deeper understanding of common mental health issues and the skills to support positive wellbeing

● A range of initiatives aimed at helping staff to exercise and unwind, such as weekly swimming, qigong and yoga sessions

● A further range of initiatives aimed at helping parents, such as free access to the TeenTips Wellbeing Hub, which provides a wide range of resources and advice

The Award report praised the school for these, commenting that: “The school’s well-being initiatives stand out for their clarity of purpose and tangible impact. Driven by a genuine desire to see children thrive, these initiatives lay a strong foundation for pupils’ future lives.”

Damian Todres said: “After a 12-month process of the school collaborating on creating and recording a broad programme of whole-school wellbeing provision, and following our verification and assessment day with Optimus Education, I am delighted to say that we have secured the Wellbeing Award.

“We had some outstanding feedback and the assessor was ‘overwhelmed’ by the breadth and depth of the evidence we provided, as well as the stakeholder interviews, school tour and presentation. I look forward to working with Martin and the whole school community in continuing to make this foundational area an explicit priority for pupils, staff and parents.”

Martin Ashton said: “I am so proud that we have received this award, which reflects how we aim to take care of every member of our community, from our youngest pupils in the Little Wellies Nursery to our Sixth Formers who preparing for life beyond Wells; from our amazing and dedicated staff who teach, inspire and support our pupils, to all of the parents and guardians who are passionate about seeing their children thrive. We know only too well the various pressure points and challenges that our young people face and we take very seriously indeed our responsibility to try and help wherever we can.

“I would like to thank Damian Todres and all of the many other staff who contribute to wellbeing every single day. We will use this award as inspiration to carry on doing what we have been doing, and to go on finding new and ambitious ways of supporting everyone in the future.”