Prestigious mental health award given to Willenhall school

A short-stay school where pupils benefit from a wide range of activities designed to boost their mental health, has gained a major award and recognition for its work.

The Shepwell Short Stay School in Willenhall has been awarded a Silver standard for its outstanding mental health and wellbeing provision. Pictured left, deputy head Lisa Southall and Tanya Birch
The Shepwell Short Stay School in Willenhall has been awarded a Silver standard for its outstanding mental health and wellbeing provision. Pictured left, deputy head Lisa Southall and Tanya Birch

The Shepwell School, which currently has about 60 pupils, has been awarded the silver School Mental Health Award for outstanding provision from the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, which is part of The Leeds Beckett University Social Enterprise for the charity Minds Ahead.

The school provides a wide range of activities for young people diagnosed with autism or complex social, emotional or mental health difficulties.

These help boost the well-being of pupils and include calming spaces in all classrooms, Well-being Wednesdays, Mindfulness practices and tailored interventions for those who need them.

Headteacher Stephen Pritchard Jones said: “This award acknowledges that we, as a school community, care for one another and we are so proud that it is being celebrated so positively.

"During months of lockdowns, Shepwell staff maintained their relationships with our students and parents both in school and via remote learning and as always, Shepwell staff are there for all, and go above and beyond, all the time.

"This is great news and a tribute to the creativity, care, skill and dedication of the excellent staff at Shepwell.

"Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, Shepwell Short Stay School has continued to improve the health and well-being of its staff and pupils.”

Tanya Birch, the 29-year-old designated mental health lead at the Willenhall school, said: “The impact of completing this award has been exceptional.

"It has been a vital tool in allowing us to develop a whole school approach to mental health and well-being.

"Completing the award has strengthened our relationships across the whole school from the staff, pupils, parents and the wider school community.

"Mental health and well-being has always been of a high agenda in our provision, however, now more than ever, it is seen as a everyday part of life and not a taboo subject.

"The open nature of our school encourages all to talk about mental health and completing this has encouraged us to ensure that mental health agenda is filtered throughout the whole school community and curriculum rather than it being saved for conflict and resolution or as a fixing tool.

"We now deploy a healthy culture of knowledge and prevention rather than recovery and cure and this forms the ethos of mental health across the whole school community.”

Professor Damien Page, Dean of Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “Achieving this award is not just recognition of a whole-school approach to mental health, it’s a recognition of the school’s commitment to improving the life chances of children and engaging with the wider community including staff, parents and carers."

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