All staff at Valentine adopt a 'whatever it takes' approach for the children we serve. If we don't strive to get it for them - who will?
Promoting PROTECTED CHARACTERISTICS
We work to ensure that our children understand that:
There are no outsiders at VALENTINE:
Everyone is different
We celebrate our differences
We are all equal in our differences
The Equality Act became law in 2010. It covers everyone in Britain and protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Everyone in Britain is protected. This is because the Equality Act protects people against discrimination because of the protected characteristics that we all have. Under the Equality Act, there are nine Protected Characteristics:
At Valentine, we actively promote these in our curriculum and work to embed them into our ethos. We refer with staff to 'linking our thinking' and this takes place in different ways - through text choice in Reading and Writing, through PSHE, understanding and promoting other religions than those common in the community and through celebrating the diversity of families.
Under the Equality Act you are protected from discrimination:
- When you are in the workplace
- When you use public services like healthcare (for example, visiting your doctor or local hospital) or education (for example, at your school or college)
- When you use businesses and other organisations that provide services and goods (like shops, restaurants, and cinemas)
- When you use transport
- When you join a club or association (for example, our local rugby club)
- When you have contact with public bodies like your local council or government departments
Promoting mental health and wellbeing at VALENTINE
We promote mental, physical health and pupil wellbeing through a multidisciplinary team approach. We are proud of our family ethos and the importance of knowing every child and their background. We hold strongly the principle that good mental health is essential in order for children to access learning.
NURTURE AT VALENTINE
We recognise the benefits of having a space within school where pupils are able to regulate their emotions, feel a sense of security and feel a sense of belonging for effective intervention to take place.
Our Nurture Room's purpose is to bridge the gap between child mental health, early childhood trauma and education. In addition, Nurture Rooms can also lead to significantly reducing the academic gap for these children, through effective usage of early intervention.
Within our local community pupils are affected negatively by contextual safeguarding factors - such as DV (domestic violence) and poor adult mental health. This room provides an essential element to create routine and calmness in an otherwise chaotic home life of a child.
Nurture Room mental health and wellbeing support structures:
- Daily breakfast and morning routines - to settle pupils into the school day. Especially important for those on our SEND and Child Protection registers.
- Withdrawl with our behaviour lead to talk through and discuss problems.
- A space for our School Counsellor.
Promoting well-being through the curriculum
The curriculum is the driver for improvement at Valentine. Through our bespoke curriculum, we teach and talk openly about significant people and their battles to overcome mental health barriers in order to succeed. For example: In our Art Curriculum, pupils become knowledgable about the life and times of artists such as LS Lowry - learning about the struggles he experienced through poverty and mental breakdown. In the book 'Wonder', read by our Y5 children, the concept of mental well-being is explored through the central character and their battle with Autism.
OTHER Well-being approaches
The Senior Team have considered carefully the needs of the children at Valentine and we have built the following well-being offer to support every child:
- An ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) for each phase at the school. Our ELSA colleagues cover: social skills, emotions, bereavement, social stories and therapeutic stories, anger management, self-esteem, counselling skills such as solution focus and friendship.
- Volunteer Mentorship for children requiring support to build effective relationships. Delivered through targeted group and individual interventions - these include 1:1 reading and gardening with a trusted adult.
VALENTINE FOREST SCHOOL & OUTDOOR CLASSROOM
In the Autumn Term 2023, the school is founding a Forest School and Outdoor Classroom in a bid to supporting pupils' mental wellbeing. We know that many children live in accommodation with little access to useable outdoor space. Post-COVID we also know that the increased screen time has impacted children's natural curiosity, confidence and independence.
The outdoor classroom will:
- Support pupils in risk-taking, child-centred play and exploration.
- Enhance our Science and Geography curriculum
- Support pupils in making better connections with the natural world
- Enable families to utilise and benefit from the space - especially those for whom the outdoors can be disregulating experience (e.g. parents of children with SEND).
COUNSELLING - no limits
No Limits is a charity offering counselling, advocacy and support to children and young people under the age of 26 in Southampton and Hampshire.
Young people can come to No Limits for free support on a wide range of issues including housing, homelessness, debt, employment, relationships, sexual health, mental health and substance misuse.
Valentine commissions 5 hours weekly for 5 children over 6 week blocks. Over the year that equates to 30 children receiving 6 hours of trained counselling.
Parents, carers, teachers and wider external colleagues can refer for counselling provision.
SMART SCHOOL COUNCIL
Our School Council is a democratically elected body who serve the student community by bringing issues to the attention of the SLT as well as their peers.
Valentine is a 'Smart' School Council - registered with the Smart School Council programme - which offers a 21st Century and digital approach to facilitating the democratic process of change.
Valentine's School Council enables:
- Greater input to have a voice - virtual meetings, held together or separately but recorded in a way that everybody can contribute.
- Develops community LEADERS who are able to enact change and to monitor the difference they are making.
- Supports leaders in measuring and understanding how the school is improving.
- Promotes leadership in a digital world - why write everything down on paper when we can save the trees.
DEVELOPING ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY
Around the school grounds and in the immediate community the problem of discarded litter reflects a lack of ecological responsibility for the local area.
At Valentine we have a committed team of eco-representatives who feed into and support our Smart School Council.
Targets they have set are:
- Ensuring that energy consumption reduces - both electricity and gas.
- Making sure that the local area is better taken care of - including sign-posting and reminding community members.
- Reducing waste - particularly single-use plastics and paper.
Impact so far:
- Removal of all school displays and replacement of energy efficient screens that don't provide waste when they need changing or updating.
- Banned use of laminators - to stop the single-use plastic
- Classroom and communal lights are switched off - and sensors installed to save electricity.
- Working with our school kitchen to identify gas-saving measures including cooking in different ways to reduce carbon emissions.
COMMUNITY ORIENTATED CITIZENSHIP
Valentine is a partner of Communicare Southampton - a charity that seeks to provide support to those in need. Communicare and Valentine established, in 2023, an intergenerational project to support loneliness in an ageing population locally.
For many children at Valentine, grandparent figures may be lacking or too far away to influence their lives positively. This project provides children with a unique opportunity to benefit from a positive friendship with an older community member and wiser elder. We love nurturing these links and the results, so far, have been excellent.
The Intergenerational Project links closely to our Character Curriculum attributes of 'Community Chloe' - teaching children the value and importance of being strong community leaders. We hope that these experiences transcend beyond the classroom and serve our wider-community well as our children grow.