Our project story

Henry Maynard Primary School & Nursery will continue their mental health programme which delivers counselling to children through Play Therapy.

Play Therapy helps children understand muddled feelings and upsetting events. Rather than having a child struggle to explain what is troubling them, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace. This stops them feeling interrogated or threatened. The outcomes of Play Therapy can reduce anxiety and raise self-esteem, which changes behaviour and improves relations with family and friends.

The 'Henry Maynard Mental Health' programme has three elements to it. 'Place2Be' which supports 36 pupils who are from disadvantaged or crisis backgrounds. 'Place2Talk' which is used by 33% of children who need daily contact sessions with a counsellor or learning mentor, and 'Place2Think' which develops internal practices for recognising and managing pupil behaviour.

'Place2Be' is a programme lasting 22 weeks. It includes 1:2:1 sessions for pupils with major behavioural difficulties, who suffer from anxiety, or are at the point of exclusion. The programme happens on the school site within a designated room. All 1:2:1 sessions are with volunteer councillors and are overseen by the Place2Be Manager who is a qualified and registered professional counsellor. 1:2:1 sessions are Therapy through Play using activities like painting, drawing, and use of toys. The child is encouraged to express their feels and emotions through these activities which helps take the direct focus off them while still giving them a way to communicate to the listening councillor.

'A Place2Talk' lunch time drop-in sessions are where 33% of the children at the school currently self refer. Children who need access to a counsellor or learning mentor voluntarily complete a slip and leave it in a postbox within the school. Slips are collected and converted into appointments at lunchtimes. The appointments are private and held in a room with a Place2Be councillor.

'A Place2Think' is the smallest part of the overall programme. It's focus is on prevention rather than cure. This programme helps develop internal practices for teaching staff to think about how to better notice and manage children's behaviour.

Combined, these elements create a unique programme that is tackling mental health in children in the Waltham Forest local community.

Aside from their homes, our pupils spend more time in school than they do anywhere else. That means our school has an important responsibility to identify and support the emotional and mental health of our students. Currently schools are unable to access specialists that can support with children's mental health in Waltham Forest Local Authority which is 'Red' rated by the Safeguarding Children Board. There's also an increase in the number of children needing mental health support both locally and nationally year on year.

Waltham Forest is joint 3rd in the London area for knife crime and gang culture. Gang Leaders have been recorded to recruit 10 & 11 year old children as drug runners. The catalyst for children interacting with these gangs is usually traced back to family trauma which could include bereavement, domestic violence, abuse, separation, or neglect. The Gang Leader offers the prospect of a stable family which the children desires and therefore turns to the gang for support. This why the 'Henry Maynard Mental Health' programme is needed.

It provides a safe space for children to acknowledge difficult feelings and experiences and gives counsellors the forum to guide children to see alternative positive choices. This develops self belief and esteem helping the children to manage their emotions and stopping the opportunistic gangs taking advantage of these tragic situations and turning them to a life of crime. This is not the only need for the Place2Be programme but it clearly demonstrates how important is can be to children's lives.

The 'Henry Maynard Mental Health' programme will positively impact the lives of all of our children as it will provide a safe space for them to spend time, and learn how to communicate better using Play Therapy. The unit will deliver valuable support and guidance, allowing our children to manage their mental health. Our project will ensure that pupils experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are able to talk about their condition in a supportive, caring environment.

We expect to see the following results in children:

Longer periods of concentration

  • Alert and engaged
  • Able to work in groups
  • Working productively

Improved behaviour

  • Willingness to engage in learning
  • Coping strategies when under stress
  • Communicating need more openly

Attendance of school

  • Managing personal anxiety
  • Improved parental / child relationships
  • Confident in the support received at school

By offering our students a specific space to practice Play Therapy we will work to increase their wellbeing. With the opportunity to express their concerns and take positive steps toward improving their emotional and mental state, we know that children will feel more able to thoroughly engage with the learning and their social groups.

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