It has been a very interesting week in the news. I particularly enjoyed listening on the radio to the inauguration of the 46th President, Joe Biden, on my commute back to Harrogate on Wednesday evening. I was especially inspired by the words of youth laureate poet, Amanda Gorman: ‘there is always light if we are brave enough to see it, there is always light if we are brave enough to be it’. Amanda Gorman ‘The Hill We Climb’ poem
Wellbeing and Mindfulness
Since joining the Red House community in September, I have enjoyed working with Mrs Cooper and Mr James and helping to build on the already excellent work that was being done in terms of wellness and positive mental health within school. The COVID-19 pandemic is an uncertain time for all of us, so it is only natural that it will affect our mental health in different ways. During these new challenges, children need extra assurance that how they are feeling right now is valid and that with the right help and support, they can get through this.
In school, we have continued to promote mindfulness, as part of our PSHE, Games and whole-school assembly programme, as well as with more bespoke activities. For example, the whole-school participated in Christmas card crafting on the last day of term and all pupils from Years 2-11 will be involved in keeping an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ log and making ‘Little Jars of Kindness’ when they return to school after the current crisis passes. Apart from support in school, there is a wealth of information available online. Two resources which I would recommend for parents are from Young Minds Young Minds Guidance and from the Government Government guidance. In addition, Mrs Cooper has produced the first of our half-termly Wellbeing Newsletters, which has some great ideas of activities which can be done to promote positive mental health: Wellbeing Newsletter.
Daily Wellness and Mindfulness Tasks
Since the start of the Spring Term, the pupils from Years 6-11 have been set a daily Wellness and Mindfulness task over Teams. The children have really engaged with the challenges and particularly enjoyed the ‘hug in a mug’ task of making their favourite comforting, warm drink e.g. a hot chocolate or if they were feeling more adventurous, making a brownie in a mug: Brownie in a mug recipe
Next week’s tasks are as follows:
- Monday: Put your hands in water – focus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?
- Tuesday: Move your body – do a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping up and down, skipping or jogging on the spot. Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands?
- Wednesday: Visualise your favourite place before lockdown – for example, it may be a foreign country or a football ground. Use all of your senses to create a mental image. Think of the colours you see, sounds you hear, and sensations you feel on your skin. Remember the last time you were there. Who were you with, if anyone? What did you do there? How did you feel?
- Thursday: Practice self-kindness – repeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself. For example, ‘I am having a rough time, but I will make it through’ or ‘I am trying hard, and I am doing my best.’ Say it, either aloud or in your head, as many times as you need.
- Friday: List favourites – list three favourite things in several different categories, such as foods, trees, songs, movies, books, places, and so on.
Weekly ‘Teams Talk’
I have been inviting pupils in the Senior School to meet with me each week, via Teams, to catch up and have a chat about any worries or concerns they may have. Each Teams Talk is 30-minutes long and they are non-compulsory, drop-in sessions. The chats take place over Teams at the following times:
- Year 6: Tuesdays 3.30-4.00pm
- Year 7: Wednesdays 3.00-3.30pm
- Year 8: Wednesdays 3.30-4.00pm
- Year 9: Thursdays 3.00-3.30pm
- Year 10: Thursdays 3.30-4.00pm
- Year 11: Tuesdays 12.30-1.00pm
Holiday Club and Sports Camp
Holiday Club and Sports Camp will be on at February half term but it is only open currently to pupils of critical workers and places will be limited. If things change, parents will be notified. To book a place, please refer to the letters from Mr Haywood at the bottom of Pupil Post.
Omegle App Alert for Parents
Please see below a link from Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command entitled ‘CEOP – Think U Know’ website regarding a social media app called Omegle. The website is for ages 13+ and appears to be similar to Chat Roulette. There is an option where children are able to access adult content by simply clicking a box to say they are over 18 and we thought we should bring this to your attention. If you have any questions, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. CEOP ‘Think you know’ Omegle Parent Guide
Year 11 Parents and Pupils: GCSE Examination Consultation
Last Friday, the Government published an invitation for an open consultation on how GCSE grades (and AS and A level grades) should be awarded this summer. Ofqual and the Department for Education want to hear the views of pupils who were due to take their exams, their parents, their teachers, school leaders and others who have an interest. If you would like to contribute to the consultation, please click on the ‘respond online’ hyper link at the bottom of the link below: GCSE Examination Consultation
Mr James, Mr Haywood and I are so proud of the efforts of all pupils, across both sites, during these very difficult and challenging times. The children should be commended for their positive attitudes and for maintaining their enthusiasm, effort and engagement in lessons. I wish you all a wonderful and relaxing weekend with your families. I will be spending my weekend packing for a house move to Teesside next Friday!
With very best wishes
Deputy Head & Head of the Senior School
Senior School Letters
Junior School Letters