Thousands of children set to benefit from new school mental wellbeing programme in Norfolk
The Rise Up early intervention programme is set to be delivered to more than 60 schools and academies across the county by award-winning Norwich-based company Future Action, which specialises in transforming young people’s wellbeing through whole-school online teacher training courses.
Norfolk county council has used funding from a Wellbeing in Education grant from the Government’s Department for Education to commission the programme.
Cllr John Fisher, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We’ve been delighted with the response from Norfolk’s secondary academies and special schools, which have been very keen to take part in this programme to help their staff improve their range of early intervention skills.
“Mental health and wellbeing is what young people across the county have been consistently highlighting to us as the issue they are most concerned about – they’ve made this clear after hundreds voted it their top priority in the recent Make Your Mark ballot during the Norfolk Youth Parliament elections.
“More consistently providing early intervention strategies and learning, and identifying those young people who need help earlier, are both key to improving support and we’re confident this programme will help to deliver these aims.”
Neil Moggan, founder of Future Action and director of sport, health and RSHE at City Academy, said: “We are delighted to create this partnership with the council and Norfolk’s schools and academies to improve support for the mental wellbeing of young people.
“This programme has already had significant impact in a number of schools, and we are thrilled that we can now extend this offer further to more schools so we can help many more young people now and long after they have left education.”
The programme has proven its success over the last year after being used by teachers in 30 schools across the world.
Rise Up is a nine-step online teacher training programme which upskills teachers and provides them with a comprehensive set of editable resources to use in PE sessions and Relationship, Health and Sex Education (RHSE) classes to reduce students’ anxiety and build their confidence.
It can be used for all year groups and offers a toolbox of self-care strategies and physical activities to support young people to develop the skills to manage their mental wellbeing.
After teachers have engaged with the training, they can tailor the programme to a particular class or school need. Students can be offered four categories of physical activities to benefit their mental wellbeing such as repetitive exercises, inclusive team sports, stress busters, and energisers alongside strategies to develop mindfulness, confidence building, self-kindness, using worries as a positive, and looking at healthy and unhealthy habits.
The programme has two aims. The first is to provide all young people with a range of self-care strategies to protect and build their mental wellbeing. The second is to identify individual young people struggling with their mental health and direct them to the specialist support they need.
The move has been welcomed by Sir Norman Lamb, chairman of the Children's and Young People's Mental Health Coalition and former North Norfolk MP, who said it could prove vital to supporting mental health services in the region.
He said: "We have got a massive challenge with children's mental health which has worsened over the pandemic and we have a situation where mental health services are under immense pressure.
"That is why early interventions like these are so, so important and could make a massive difference to helping the mental health services in Norfolk improve.
"We [the coalition] are very supportive of this."
'You really feel cared about'
Pupils at City Academy say that in the year the scheme has been running there, they have notice a discernable difference in school life for the better.
Lily Bailey, 14, started at the school during lockdown after moving to England from France and said the difference was incredible. She said: "Lockdown in France was awful, but coming here I notice that the teachers pay so much attention to everybody - not a day goes by where I'm not asked how I am about five times. You really feel cared about."
Harley Charlton, 15, added: "After coming back from lockdown I really noticed a difference in the way teachers were talking to us. They seem to have more of an understanding of how we feel now. The school feels a lot more open and teachers are really thinking about how they can help us. The teachers always seem to notice when we're not quite ourselves and look to try and help us, even if we haven't asked."
Year 10 pupil Wray Harland, 15, added: "I think the school has really improved and teachers have a better understanding of how our mental health can impact our learning. We've had more lessons that talk about mental health and we're being taught that it is okay to not be okay and try to make the bad days better."
Tremendous Effort From Norfolk Teachers
Over 170 teachers across the County have started the online training in the last 2 weeks. This is staggering in the middle of exam season and we commend Norfolk schools and teachers for their commitment to transforming their students' lives now and long after they have left school.
Norfolk County Council and Future Action hosted a media launch for the programme at City Academy Norwich on Friday 27th May.
The launch was covered by BBC Look East, BBC Radio Norfolk, Greatest Hits Radio and the Eastern Daily Press.
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