Gladstone Primary School

Alun Cairns MP Visits Vale School

Alun Cairns, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan and Secretary of State for Wales, visited Gladstone Primary School in Barry on Friday 14th September to gain an understanding of the innovative approach to safeguarding and wellbeing the school is taking.

In Wales it is estimated that three children in every classroom will at some point experience a mental health issue1. Gladstone Primary School recognise this, and are taking a novel approach to their safeguarding responsibilities. The school demonstrates an excellent attitude towards their duty of care, nothing is more important than the wellbeing of their pupils.

The Growing number of challenges facing schools

Schools today are under an unprecedented pressure to deal with and support a significant rise in the number of safeguarding concerns experienced by children and young people. In recent years these have grown to include complex issues such as mental health, digital dangers and the sexual or criminal exploitation of children. It is important that schools have the tools they need to tackle these serious child protection issues.

We recognise that our role with safeguarding extends beyond the immediate child protection concerns that we have. To ensure that our children have the strategies and resilience to support themselves in respect of recognising when they are at risk.

Caroline Newman, Head Teacher of Gladstone Primary

Novel Initiatives:

Gladstone Primary School is the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) ambassador for the Barry Schools cluster. The Senior Leadership team have also received training in First Aid for Mental Health for youth and young adults, additionally the Head Teacher and Assistant Head Teacher hold qualifications as trauma informed practitioners. Gladstone is also the only school in Wales to be part of a wellbeing programme for Years 3 and 4 (Zippy and Apple’s friends). Children at the school can benefit from a varied range of initiatives including:

  • Play Therapy
  • Supported Lunch Times in the Friendship Garden or the Rainbow Room
  • A dedicated ‘Wellbeing Hotline’ where parents can text in concerns about their child if they are unable to speak to staff directly
  • Group Wellbeing sessions supported by a trained Learning Support Assistant

MyConcern in Gladstone Primary School

Gladstone invested in MyConcern®, our Queen’s Award-winning safeguarding software developed in South Wales. The child protection system allows staff to easily record, monitor and report on wellbeing concerns, enabling staff to respond quickly to a child’s needs.

MyConcern is invaluable to us in Gladstone – we honestly do not know how we would function without it. It ensures that every aspect of the child is logged and supports us to really understand what the child lives with and how the child reacts in school. We use MyConcern in a very sensitive way and it supports staff working with our most vulnerable children to really understand and have an empathy and understanding of how to support the child. We recognise that we cannot ‘fix’ experiences, but we can validate emotions and support a child to work through and come to terms or resolve trauma that they may have or still be experiencing.

Caroline Newman, Head Teacher of Gladstone Primary

On his visit, Alun Cairns was shown Gladstone’s safeguarding areas and spoke with some of the children who have been supported by the processes put in place. He was joined by one of the Directors of One Team Logic who explained exactly how MyConcern aids Gladstone on a day to day basis.

It’s a huge privilege for us to be able support schools in meeting the challenges and responsibilities of safeguarding children and young people and it is hugely heartening for our staff to know that their work is making a real difference to the lives of school staff and the youngsters that they care so much about.

Martin Baker QPM, Managing Director for One Team Logic

Alun Cairns said:

Gladstone Primary clearly leads the way in their approach to safeguarding children. Their approach is holistic and the MyConcern software is an excellent tool.

The MyConcern system allows them to accurately follow the stories of pupils who may be facing particular issues so that any problems can be flagged and tackled at the earliest opportunity. This means that pupils are given the best chance to progress and succeed and already we’re seeing results. I want to pay a huge tribute to the fantastic work of Mrs Newman, she is making an incredibly positive difference and I thank her for that.

Supporting Learning

All of this support, and the holistic approach to wellbeing that the school champions, ultimately allows for a more focused approach to what is the main objective of learning. Pleasingly, these initiatives have also contributed to a very positive inspection report. Gladstone Primary School hopes that it can be a model of exemplar safeguarding practices to other schools in Wales.

References

1 – National Assembly for Wales Children, Young People and Education Committee, The Emotional and Mental Health of Children and Young People in Wales, April 2018