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Gold award for The Bemrose School as assessors praise mental health strategy for pupils, staff and community

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A DERBY city school has been officially recognised for its work in supporting the mental health of pupils, staff and its community by achieving a gold-standard national award.

The Bemrose School, in Uttoxeter Road, has become one of only a few secondary schools in the East Midlands to receive a Gold award from the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools.

Assessors praised the school’s staff wellbeing policies, which include access to an on-site gym, bike-to-work schemes and an open water swimming group, its community support groups and introduction of Mental Health Ambassadors for secondary school students, wellbeing ambassadors for the primary phase and ambassadors who access the Enhanced Resource Facility and Elmtree facility; a discreet provision that sits outside of the mainstream school and provides a calm, quiet and caring environment for young people with autism. 

The Bemrose School, which has almost 1,200 pupils on roll from ages 3 to post-16, was complimented for its work in developing links in Eastern Europe via staff visits to schools in Slovakia to help develop cultural understanding. At present, 25% of students are from Roma families and Neil Wilkinson recently spoke at a conference in Hungary about Inclusion and how The Bemrose School actively supports the inclusion of all.

Assessors also highlighted the school’s links with local, national and international organisations including the University of Derby, Derby City Boxing Academy and Derby Theatre and its relationship with NHS England; they have been asked to share their good practice on how they recognise and organise relevant Awareness Days in school.

The Bemrose School – which has pupils between the ages of 3 and 18 – has received a Gold award from the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools. Image: Penguin PR.

Executive headteacher Neil Wilkinson said:

“The wellbeing of our staff, pupils and community is of utmost importance and becoming one of only a few schools in the area to achieve the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools’ Mental Health Award at Gold level is fantastic.

“We achieved Bronze-standard in November 2020 and applied for reverification but were able to present evidence that demonstrates we are excelling and have adopted strategies that fulfil the criteria required to be Gold standard.”

Year 9 pupil Fatimah Ali is on the school committee and says it’s important to her that she listens to other pupils.

“Mental health ambassadors in schools are so needed,” she said, “our role is to help others who may prefer to speak to a student, rather than a teacher, who is of a similar age. It’s important, as an ambassador, to listen and not be judgemental.”

Karen Lamb is Pupils Welfare and Safeguarding Officer Schools Mental Health Lead at The Bemrose School and is proud of the award. She said: “Mental wellbeing is so important to us here at The Bemrose School and we find innovative ways in which to focus on self-care, whether that’s playing mindfulness games, colouring or breathing exercises. Going forwards, we’re keen to offer more sessions for parents and carers in our community.”

The award was established in 2017 by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – part of Leeds Beckett University – and social enterprise Minds Ahead.

The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools aims to strengthen pupils’ mental health by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK’s education system, improving students’ outcomes and life chances.

Rachel C. Boyle, Dean of Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education, said:

“The achievement of the Mental Health award is a demonstration of the school’s significant commitment to improving children’s and staff’s mental health and wellbeing.

“It is also a commitment to developing practices in school that seek to improve awareness and expertise in creating safe and secure learning environments in which all children can truly fulfil their potential. This award is one that all staff can be truly proud of”.

Nationally, more than 1200 schools have signed up to take part in the mental health award.

Dean Johnstone, founder and CEO of Minds Ahead said:

“This award shines a light on the excellent work schools are doing to promote mental health for their community of children and adults.

“It is thrilling and humbling to learn about The Bemrose School and the many other schools engaged in the quality award process. I’d like to offer my congratulations on this deserved recognition.”

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