Academy trust investing more than £100,000 in children's mental health

Daniel Thrower, chief executive of the Wensum Trust

Daniel Thrower, chief executive of the Wensum Trust - Credit: Wensum Trust

An academy trust with 11 schools across the county has pledged to invest more than £100,000 in measures to support the mental health of its pupils.

The Wensum Trust, which has its headquarters in Hellesdon, has lined-up a six-figure investment after agreeing to put mental health at the forefront of its agenda.

This investment will be used to roll out a range of measures that are designed to benefit its children from a well-being perspective which, the Trust believes, will improve their overall learning.

Among these measures are the recruitment of a new educational psychologist to work across all 11 schools and the roll-out of emotion coaching, a psychological approach to education which teaches children how to respond to their feelings.

Daniel Thrower, who succeeded the late Gerry Batty as the Trust's chief executive 18 months ago, said: "We are undertaking a major shift away from a behaviourist model, where children's behaviour is controlled and managed in school, often with punitive consequences, to a relational approach where relationships are key and behaviour is seen as a form of communication.

"We believe all children need support to feel engaged in school life.

"Unfortunately, for some children, traditional behaviour management approaches can lead to school becoming a place of fear which they sadly endure, rather than enjoy.

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"We have seen this, especially among pupils who are not academically minded, and are determined to change that.

"All our staff are now trained in facilitating a different conversation with pupils that will resonate well with parents, carers and most importantly the children."

The Trust recently opened a new special resource facility, The Base, at Arden Grove Infant and Nursery in Hellesdon, which is a purpose-built site catering for children with social, emotional and mental health needs.

It also hopes to launch a research and training arm to share its methods with other schools and professionals, while Sarah Naish, an author and expert in child trauma has been appointed a member of the Trust, along with former MP Norman Lamb, as an honorary member for mental health.

Mr Thrower added: "We are committed to meeting the needs of every child by making a significant change in the culture our schools have. This, I believe, is overdue. It is a challenging thing to do and will take time to fully embed, but we are on the right path."