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Case Study - Sewell Park Academy - Movement for Mental Wellbeing Benefits

Sewell Park Academy is a secondary school located on the north-eastern edge of the city of Norwich and is part of the Broad Horizons Education Trust. 


Their dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure every student receives the opportunities to succeed, through their vision of "Enriching minds, enabling success". 



We are absolutely delighted to partner with colleagues at Sewell Park Academy though the ‘Norfolk RISE Up programme’ funded by Norfolk County Council.


In this case study, Sewell Park's inspirational Head of PE, Lauren Perkins, talks us through their intent, implementation and impact of the RISE Up programme in their setting.



Intent 

Our intent for our ‘RISE Up’ programme was to improve our pupils’ knowledge of the relationship between exercise and positive mental health. We felt that this was really important for all of our students, but specifically for those who are known to us as struggling with their mental health and for students who are preparing themselves to sit their GCSE exams.


We aimed to create a programme where students would be able to take independent and positive steps in recognising when they were beginning to struggle with their mental health and what they could do to alleviate their symptoms.  


To do this, we felt that it was really important to first work on the students’ mindset towards physical education and being physically active in their own time and then develop an understanding of the benefits that physical activity can have both physically and mentally; our main emphasis being on the psychological benefits.


I completed the School Wellbeing Scorecard and an adapted version of the Warwick-Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale questionnaire to help me track the impact of our intervention.


Implementation

To begin the programme, we wanted to make our young people feel psychologically safer so we allowed students who were struggling with accessing the PE curriculum to wear their own sports clothes to lessons. This meant that they were able to engage in the lesson and focus more on the content, rather than worry about what they looked like in the lesson. 


We then created a variety of opportunities for students to get involved in the RISE Up programme, through extra curricular clubs offering fun activities such as dodgeball matches, wellbeing walks, orienteering and spikeball to including the programme in our fitness and nutrition unit in lessons. 


As well as this, we made connections with our pastoral team to help us to identify students who may need extra support, but who might be unwilling to approach us as a department, or to share their struggles with a member of staff. 


This allowed us to put together a group of students who we could work closely with to support their psychological development.


Impact

The programme has had a really positive impact on the students who have been involved, with students being more aware of their options when it comes to managing their mental health.


A good example of this would be the fact that our fitness extra curricular club has become more popular with students focussing on improving their mood through exercising and working out with their friends.  


This has benefitted many of our students including some of our care experienced young people and those with English as an additional language.


Attitudes towards the PE environment have improved with students anticipating fun and rewarding activities that they know will benefit them both mentally and physically. 


We have very few refusals to engage in the practical lesson as a result of the change to PE kit and a large number of those refusing to participate beforehand are more willing to engage.


This is a range of comments from our young people about how they feel about our programme:

  • “I know that if I am mad, I can just go to the gym and box a bit to feel better”

  • “I didn’t know that PE was so good for my brain”

  • “I can, like, enjoy PE and not all of it but for my mental health and that makes me feel happier in lesson”

  • “I didn’t know that I liked yoga because I was too scared before”

  • “Why didn’t we learn this before?”

  • “I love the lessons now.”

  • “Wearing clothes I feel comfortable in is so good. It makes me feel happy in lesson”


I re-completed the School Wellbeing Scorecard and an adapted version of the Warwick-Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale questionnaire to help me track the impact of our intervention.


Our young people made progress in 5 out of the 8 areas and stayed the same in the remaining 3 categories as you can see below.


The programme has helped us most with student engagement, mental health, personal development, and supporting our most vulnerable children.


We also improved our wellbeing provision by 16% on the School Wellbeing Scorecard in a short space of time.


Pre Intervention:


Post Intervention:


Moving Forward

Moving forward, we will definitely begin applying more of the principles of the 'RISE Up' programme and Trauma Informed PE programme to our lessons. This will begin with allowing those with self esteem issues to wear something that they feel comfortable in and prioritising our relationships by demonstrating empathy and care. 


This means our young people will be able to engage in the lesson, rather than sitting out or getting put through the consequence system for refusal to engage. 


By taking this forward, we can build a positive atmosphere in all our PE lessons and start to engage students who have a history of refusing. 


As well as this, we are keen to continue educating more of our students on how physical activity can positively affect their mental health and the strategies that they can use themselves when they feel that they are beginning to suffer."


Do you want to improve your students' wellbeing?

Take the first steps here by completing our 'School Wellbeing Scorecard here.


This action will help you map your school's wellbeing provision in 3 minutes and identify the key areas to focus on for your setting.


You will receive a personalised report and a complimentary login to our taster ‘RISE Up’ course.  Here you will be able to experience Step 1 and 2 of our 9 Step RISE Up teacher training course. 


Information about our RISE UP early intervention mental wellbeing teacher training course can be found here.


Information about our Trauma Informed PE teacher training course can be found here.


Come Join Us at the YST National Conference 2024

Our founder, Neil Moggan, Kate Reynolds, Jon White and David Saul will be presenting the "Beyond the Buzz: The power of a 'trauma-Informed approach' in improving behaviour and attendance" session.

We would love you to join us. More information on the conference can be found here.



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