Heads Up-School Counselling
Sometimes life can be tough, and people growing up can be under pressure. Having someone you can really talk to may be a help - perhaps a friend, a teacher, your parents, or someone in the family. At times, everyone feels worried or has problems that may be hard to talk about with the people close to you. You may worry about whether they will understand, whether you can trust them, whether they will blame you, or ignore your feelings. That is when you may think about talking to the school counsellor.
How are counsellors different?
- we don't blame or judge you
- we don't tell you what to do
- we are there for you - whatever the problem
- we are good at listening carefully
- we can see you in school time
- we help you sort things out in a way which suits you
- we understand how your school works and can get you more help and info if you need it
- we can give you the time and space you need
- we have had plenty of training and practice to help us do our job well.
Will the counsellor tell anyone about what I say?
We don't ordinarily tell other people about you or your situation without your permission.
But if we think that you or someone else may be at risk or in danger, there may need to get help from others to keep you safe. We will talk with you about this and together we will try to find the best thing to do for you.
What kind of things can I tell the counsellor about?
Whatever is on your mind, problems, decisions, worries, and changes. It could be lots of different things - making friends and relationships, parents separating, losing your temper and getting into trouble at home and at school, teasing and bullying, losing someone special, mixed-up feelings, health worries, exams and coursework. All these things can affect how you feel and how you behave. Talking with you about your worries and problems is the start of helping you sort them out.
How does it work?
Seeing a counsellor might be your idea, or your parents or a teacher might suggest it. You don't have to decide straight away. You can meet the counsellor first, to ask questions and find out more. Counselling is voluntary - it's your choice, and whatever you decide is OK.
You are likely to be offered appointments for regular sessions for several weeks at a room in school where you won't be disturbed. The school would like to contact your parents/carers to let them know you are seeing a counsellor, but will not go into details. It may still be possible to come to counselling without your parents being told, and you can discuss this with the Counsellor.
How do I find out more or ask to see the counsellor?
Ask a teacher or head of year or speak to your Head of House / Pastoral Head who will link up with your school counsellor.
‘I went to Heads Up when I was having problems with students, family, and well, anything that was bugging me. What they do is they sit down and just listen to you. When he has listened he always manages to resolve it by helping me see another way. Heads up has helped me a lot. I know I was really badly behaved in year 7 and now I feel much better. I feel now that I don’t have to worry all the time about being excluded or getting into trouble. I know now how I can control my situations and can take responsibility for what I do. I no longer blame other people for what happens to me because I can now control my life for myself.’ AV
Compass Mentoring is an intervention to help students with problems they may be experiencing. Its purpose is to give students help in how to overcome their issues, while at the same time building their confidence and motivation and providing general guidance about the choices they make which affect their futures.
This work can be done on a 1:1 basis or within a small group and can be either a short intervention or it can run over a period of time. Unlike the counselling service, known as ‘Heads up,’ the intention of mentoring is to act as a life coach, listening to the need and setting achievable goals to enable the student to reach their full potential.
‘The people in always check up on me to see how I am doing and how I am feeling. I can talk to Compass about how school is and how things are at home. After I chat to them I always feel good because I can get things off my chest that make me feel down. I always feel better after going.’ DC
‘You can just talk to Compass about anything that is going on. I wasn’t sure I could trust him at first but I found that after a few sessions with him I could see that I could. I feel like he has helped me to weather a lot of storms in my time at Harewood. If I was ever angry or anxious about anything I knew I could go and see him and after I would feel relaxed. If you are struggling just think about your life and know that there are people that you can go to that will assist you when you need someone.’ RH
The purpose of Reflections is found in supporting small groups of students or 1:1 to reflect on their responses to a given situation that has arisen in school and the emotions around the situation. Discussions aim to explore how different responses have different outcomes, recognise the triggers, and build coping skills and strategies to make better response choices.
Reflections encompasses ‘Guidance for Youth’ – the programme provides a constructive peer group environment encouraging students to understand their needs and wants; set and achieve longer term goals be that further education or a job or lifestyle they wouldn’t otherwise have worked towards. The overall aim is to provide students with self-management skills and help them discover what motivates them and understand what they want to do with their lives.
‘We are learning how we can be better students and learning how we can take more control over our school life. We have made targets that help us with our behaviour like not swearing or getting on-called. These targets change every week and its good because it gives me something to aim for and it will stop me getting into trouble. I notice now what I say to the teacher and other people. I think reflections is brilliant because it helps me do really well.’ JJ
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. CAMHS are specialist NHS services.
They offer assessment and treatment when children and young people have emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.
Children and young people and their families can be referred to CAMHS if children are finding it hard to cope with family life, school or the wider world. If these difficulties are too much for family, friends or GPs to help with, CAMHS may be able to assist.
Types of problems CAMHS can help with include violent or angry behaviour, depression, eating difficulties, low self-esteem, anxiety, obsessions or compulsions, sleep problems, self-harming and the effects of abuse or traumatic events. CAMHS can also diagnose and treat serious mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
How can we SEE CAHMS?
There are different ways to get an appointment with CAMHS. The most common is via your child’s GP.
You can discuss your worries about your child with their GP. If they are old enough and feel able to do so, your child can see the GP themselves.
It can be useful to write down what is worrying you before you visit the GP, including how long the difficulties have been happening and anything you feel might be causing them. The GP may be able to offer their own advice. If GPs think specialist help is needed, they can write a letter to CAMHS asking them to make an appointment for your child.
Others who may be able to make a referral to CAMHS include:
•Teachers or other school staff
•Youth counselling services.
CAMHS are expected to work with children and young people up to the age of 18. However, some services will only see young people aged 16-18 if they are in full-time education. Individual services vary, so ask the person you see at CAMHS at what age their service stops.
Starting a new school can be intimidating at the best of times. When a student arrives at Harewood we recognise that this can be the case and have clear procedures to make sure that the transition is as painless as possible. Not only is the student met before arrival by his Learning Co-ordinator and the SENCO, where appropriate, but when they start they are given a buddy in the tutor group who is assigned to explain things in student-speak; helping with day to day issues such as getting around; how and where to get lunch as well as familiarising the new student with the policies and procedures he needs to know. This enables them to have a friend from day one and has proved to be a helpful process. If concerns are significant we may also refer them to Lunch Bunch or Oasis.
Bullying has always been an issue in schools. At Harewood we never seek to adopt a ‘head in the sand’ approach. Rather, we feel it best to take an active role in stamping it out at the source. Our Bullywatch programme has been extremely successful in reducing rates of bullying in the college and restoring students faith that they can come to school in a safe and nurturing environment.
The premise of Bullywatch is that if a student is bullied, his House head will meet with him on a weekly basis to ensure there have been no further incidents. This eradicates a common student barrier of having to go to an adult to report it-the appointments are set and the groundwork has been done to allow students to speak freely with a trusted adult. These meetings will continue weekly for six weeks. If there are no further incidents then contact can be moved to monthly, or until such time as the student feels comfortable and secure. Of course, a student can see the House Head at any time outside the weekly mentoring slot if an issue arises beforehand.
‘When I started school I was getting picked on at break mostly, but also in lessons when the teacher wasn’t looking. I got put on to Bullywatch and it stopped straightaway. It made me feel a lot better that someone was looking out for me. I feel great now because I can come to school and feel safe.’ AW
‘Bullywatch was really helpful for me. I enjoy school now because I know that things will be sorted out quickly. I don’t get any problems now because it was all brought out into the open and dealt with.’ AD
Lunch Bunch is an initiative led by the House Heads. It allows for students to meet at lunch time in a quiet and nurturing environment. While there, students are able to meet other like-minded peers and can form productive and supportive friendships. The aim of the club is to build confidence in our young people as well as giving them a creative outlet that is not met for them by more physical lunch time pursuits. It is a popular and growing service.
‘It’s a good place to go if you don’t like the noise in the canteen. I think it’s an opportunity to make new friends because we eat our lunch together and we do fun things like the lego challenge and other things like that. It makes lunch go quick and I like it there.’ AB
At Harewood College, the name we give to our nurture group is Oasis. This is to avoid any negative stereotyping that may arise from its more traditional name. A nurture group is a small group of 6 to 10 children staffed by two supportive adults.
Nurture groups offer a short term, focussed, intervention strategy, which addresses barriers to learning arising from social / emotional and or behavioural difficulties, in an inclusive, supportive manner. Children continue to remain part of their own class group and usually return full time within 4 terms.
Central to the philosophy is attachment theory; an area of psychology which explains the need for any person to be able to form secure and happy relationships with others in the formative years of their lives and our ongoing knowledge of neuroscience. Nurture groups are an effective, evidenced based approach supporting Special Educational Needs (SEN) / Additional Support Needs (ASD) in the form of Social, Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) in an inclusive manner. Through successfully addressing the barriers to learning, this results in both improved academic attainment and improved health and wellbeing.
How does Oasis work? Trained staff create an attractive, safe, structured environment, within the Learning Support Environment, with a number of areas and resources designed to bridge the gap between home and school. Building trusting relationships are core to the approach. The children are carefully selected according to their individual holistic profile of needs, identified using the Boxall Profile whilst also ensuring the establishment of a cohesive nurture group. Individual and group plans are then formulated, with all targets thoroughly discussed with all involved including the pupils themselves.
Staff then provide a variety of experiences, opportunities, approaches and resources to address these needs within a culture of trust, understanding and knowledge incorporating the 6 principles of nurture as undernoted, with progress closely monitored.
The six principles of nurture
- Children's learning is understood developmentally
- The classroom offers a safe base
- The importance of nurture for the development of self-esteem
- Language is a vital means of communication
- All behaviour is communication
- The importance of transition in children's lives.
‘Oasis is cool because it helps you if you get angry easily because they go through sessions where it helps you control your emotions. I find traffic lights very helpful because it helps me understand what I am thinking and feeling. I think it is helping me with my schoolwork too because I am calmer when I go there and use the things they teach me.’ JJ
‘Oasis is brilliant. It helps me to relax and to make new friends. The teaching assistants were really nice and always give us fun activities to do. Having breakfast there was really good. We were taught to be responsible and to look after ourselves.’ DC
Return to Health Hub