Trustee Blog - GCSE Results
01st December 2017
I, Tim Bayliss, wanted to make sure that that we, the trust, had our delight and admiration recorded appropriately. The School is making wonderful progress and it is sometimes easy to take for granted the collective sense of purpose, dedication, professionalism and effort that goes into all that is achieved. The positivity, ‘buzz’, security, respect and sheer joy encompassing everything at Heathfield Knoll is always a privilege to witness, and it’s a delight to get into the lessons and see how those wonderful, tireless relationships ensure the remarkable development of each and every student. In a small school, ‘headline’ percentages and value-added computations can so easily be derailed by ‘issues’ and self-fails, and of course by definition they mask those one-to-one triumphs of devotion, encouragement, support, belief and selfless giving of staff extra time. That the results were simply outstanding was hard proof of yet more potentials exceeded and great possibilities for the future realised. The efforts and achievements of the students, their teachers and supporting staff, your SMT, and parents giving so much to make these opportunities possible, needed to be applauded – not least given that they were accomplished during such pivotal changes in education and of course the school.
Mr Tim Bayliss
01st December 2017
On yet (another) rainy day, I recently visited the Black Country Museum and particularly enjoyed my time in the Victorian school room. The ‘teacher’ delivered the lesson to the 50 or so pupils with suitably muted enthusiasm, sternness of voice and with a focus on the Three Rs. The assembled participants seemed to enjoy the experience, but this may equally have been because they escaped the rain! It made me consider again, a question that we spent time reviewing earlier this year - what are the key characteristics of today’s successful schools?
At Heathfield Knoll School we have recently launched the new school website, printed prospectus and school App. Whilst planning, we spent time thinking through what makes HKS special. Any review of other school websites would doubtless provide a list of similar key attributes – outstanding pastoral care, excellent academic results, breadth of co- and extra- curricular activities and so on. Heathfield Knoll School has all of these but ‘Happiness’ – this is what makes HKS special. It is my firm belief, that happy pupils working and playing in a happy school environment will achieve and then exceed their potential. Indeed, the very foundation of any successful school must first start with happy individuals. Don’t believe me? Next time in school, count the smiles of the pupils – regardless of the rain or shine outside!
Mr L Collins
Understanding Depression and Anxiety in Children
01st December 2017
‘Teenagers struck by depression epidemic’ appeared as a headline in a recent edition of The Times. Reading behind the headlines, the facts make for a depressing read:
Half of all adult mental health issues manifest by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 18 (Murphy and Fonagy, 2012)
Anxiety is the most frequent mental disorder in young people and the median age of onset is just 6 years old (Merikangas, 2010)
1 in 4 girls is depressed by the age of 14. (The Millennium Cohort Study)
The costs of anxiety go beyond a debilitating distraction at school. Studies have shown that it negatively affects self esteem, school learning, stress tolerance, motivation and relationships (Maldonado, 2013 and Layard, 2015). Unaddressed and unchallenged, adolescent mental health issues develop into wider societal problems - current estimates suggest a £70 -105 billion cost annually to UK society (DOH, 2014). In short, improving mental health early in life reduces inequalities, improves physical health, reduces health risk behaviour and increases life expectancy, economic productivity, social functioning and quality of life.
We all have a part to play in responding to this health challenge. As a school, much work continues to take place in supporting the mental health needs of our pupils. Oft widely quoted but arguably less frequently applied, wellbeing may be defined as ‘flourishing, not coping’. Our PSHE programme, including wellbeing enrichment lessons in Lower School, aims to teach resilience. Our focus on relationships, channeling positive emotion and celebrating each individual all have a part to play in developing resilience. The role of Head of Wellbeing is central in leading this but so too are the conversations that happen daily between teachers and pupils and parents. Early intervention is important when dealing with any illness and, for example, our use of pupils as role models and informal counselling all have a part to play in school. There is also much that can be achieved at home - for instance, studies have shown that a good diet, physical activity, sleep and, of course, positive behaviour and role models all help to counter anxiety and stress.
Of most importance is raising awareness and starting the conversations when you notice physical or emotional changes in your son / daughter - perhaps, mood changes, dietary concerns or overuse of electronics at the expense of meeting and interacting with friends in person. All of the pupils have wellbeing business sized cards with some useful websites as well as contact details of the Head of Wellbeing. Please do get in touch should you have unanswered questions.
Mr L Collins