Youngsters at Whitehaven’s Hensingham Primary School are building on the community spirit of lockdown and making a difference in 2020.
Hensingham has appointed 30 young Wellbeing Champions who have a role in making the school environment inclusive and welcoming for fellow pupils. Pupils have also tried their hand at techniques such as yoga and meditation as part of weekly wellbeing sessions.
Headteacher Faye Eldon said: “It’s a nice responsibility for the champions to have. We want our children to be really caring and look after each other.
“If they saw someone who was upset, they’d just go up and say ‘hello’ or play a game with them. They are being role models for how we want our children to behave.
“With everything we are all going through this year it has given them an extra boost.”
The older age children will receive training this half term on how they can further support their classmates.
Hensingham is a member of Cumbria Education Trust, which has a focus on wellbeing as part of everyday life at its 11 schools.
Hensingham has also introduced Wellbeing Wednesdays to the curriculum during which the children look at ways to help mental health, such as yoga and breathing techniques. They have also discussed their positive and negative thoughts and explored friendships and feelings.
Mrs Eldon added: “We’ve looked at our aspirations and achievements and generally how to stay happy and healthy and having fun with it.
“Despite the Covid restrictions the children managed to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support by making cakes and they donated to Whitehaven food bank at harvest festival. We want to look at more ways that we can share everything that we are learning about caring with the wider community.”
The school, which joined the trust 12 months ago, had a busy first half term after the enforced closure of lockdown.
Mrs Eldon added: “We developed a new CET curriculum which is tailored to provide our children with a positive, exciting programme of study and one relevant to their lives in West Cumbria.
“And we’re delighted with how children have responded to one of the first things we did with the trust which was introduce a new behaviour policy and visual commands to ensure a consistent approach to standards throughout the school.
“It helps promotes a calm and friendly environment for learning.”
A popular addition has been the awarding of the Golden Jumper, handed to one child in each class at a weekly celebration assembly. The recognition is given for showing Respect – one of the school’s 3Rs along with Responsibility and Resilience – whether that’s for good manners, being a positive role model or helping others.
The changes have gone down well with local families.
Parent Lynne Todhunter said: “We are delighted with the progress our children are making. Their learning and development has exceeded our expectations and they love going to school every morning!”
Mrs Clare Stratton added: “We love the school and all of the staff are helpful and supportive. It is a positive place which is very welcoming and our children always feel happy and safe. The learning environment is great and staff create lots of exciting new lessons for our children to learn.”
The school is also developing stronger links with its sister CET secondary school, The Whitehaven Academy, half a mile away. Specialist subject staff are helping children widen their experiences, such as a hands-on science project with Year 5 and 6 pupils.