Student well-being of 'hoots' importance

The well-being of students is a top priority for Wakefield Girls’ High School, with the school taking a holistic approach, understanding that student well-being and happiness are key factors in girls being able to flourish academically. With around 10% of young people aged 8 to fifteen experiencing a low sense of well-being (MHFA, 2019), promoting positive mental health has never been more important.

The school’s recent well-being week, which is held every year, offers the perfect opportunity for girls to experience a range of different activities to help them achieve a study: life balance. Activities ranged from a high energy Clubbercise class for Year 7 students with glow sticks to boot, to the more reserved ‘crash out and read’ session, where pupils got to put their feet up and relax whilst reading their favourite book. The activities weren’t just for students either, as many teachers joined in the fun.

‘Film and facial’ was a popular choice for Year 10 and 11 students, where girls enjoyed a pamper whilst watching a movie. Meanwhile, Sixth Form students enjoyed a lecture from old girl Dr Charlie Cheetham and Dr Elle Newton, who talked to girls about the importance of being the best version of themselves. The Happy Café was enjoyed by the whole school where hundreds of cakes were consumed in less than an hour. The week culminated with a whole school assembly with a Burrowing Owl, a Barn Owl, an Eagle Owl and Geoff the Harris’s Hawk.

As part of the school’s holistic approach to positive mental health, Sixth Form girls volunteer to be trained as mental health first aiders, running student drop-in clinics in well-being week, as well as providing support and guidance throughout the year to girls at the lower end of school. When asked what well-being week meant to students, Jasmine Kaur, Year 13 student and mental health first aider, commented:

“Well-being week has provided the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a positive mental health. We have been taught how to focus on ourselves through participating in a variety of fun and relaxing activities, such as Happy Cafés, Zumba Classes and Sing-alongs. These activities helped bring the school community even closer.”

It is well documented that mental health and emotional issues often develop during adolescence, with 75% of mental ill health starting by the age of eighteen (MHFA, 2019). The school takes an active stance on such issues, operating a ‘Positive Mental Health Policy’, aimed at promoting whole school positive mental health and providing a safe and stable environment for students affected both directly and indirectly by mental ill health.

Heidi-Jayne Boyes, head of Wakefield Girls’ High School, said:

“I am extremely proud of the superb pastoral care our school provides to girls. Living in such a well-connected, fast paced society I believe it is vitally important to develop our girls to be adaptable individuals, able to cope with the different pressures that life inevitably throws up. The well-being of our girls is of paramount importance all year round, but well-being week is a calendar highlight and helps girls to see the importance of achieving a healthy study: life balance.”