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Children‘s Mental Health Week

Published by Godstowe School on Tuesday 29th of November 2022

As I am sure you are aware, in schools across the country this past week, there has been a focus upon children’s mental health and wellbeing.


Here at Godstowe, the timing is apt as our Fourths prepare to sit their mock Common Entrance exams next week. The job of boarding house staff at this time is to encourage – and on occasion enforce – a healthy balance between time spent revising and that all important ‘down time’ spent relaxing with their friends. The overriding aim is to help the girls maintain a positive, driven approach towards their studies, whilst at the same time seeing these exams for what they are, in the wider context of their lives.


House staff are obviously experienced in spotting the early signs that all may not be well. Several have completed courses on Mental Health First Aid. Some obvious rules prevail: for example, no exercise books, textbooks or revision notes are allowed in the dormitories. Film nights on Friday and Saturday evenings are compulsory, except in exceptional circumstances.


We aim to put theory into practice. To give you an example, this weekend all of the boarders in Highlands and Turner will complete up to three hours of supervised prep and revision on Saturday morning. To compensate, they will then take part in one of two, hour long yoga sessions on Saturday afternoon with an external, qualified teacher. There will be optional study groups, focusing upon the content heavy subjects including History, Geography, TPR and the Sciences, led by boarding house and teaching staff. The Saturday night film will have an emphasis upon happiness.


On Sunday, all of the girls will be encouraged to have Teams calls with home. Parents will know the weekend arrangements already, having received each house’s plan during the week. After brunch, all boarders will leave the school site for the afternoon. Highlands House will walk into town for bubble tea in one of the many street cafes. Turner House is planning to go for a walk along the River Thames from Cookham to The Bounty pub in Bourne End, With the promise of cheesy chips and a panini at the end of the journey!


We cannot hope to switch off the fears and anxieties of our boarding pupils, but we can help the girls to rationalise them, provide them with distractions and help teach them the importance of balance, positivity and emotional resilience in their lives. If we can make a difference to a few girls by having a relaxed chat, whilst out walking the dog by the river on Sunday, it will have been a good day!
Children‘s Mental Health Week - Photo 1
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