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Skills for Life programmes embed the whole school approach

Here at Oldham Council, we are passionate about embedding The Whole School Approach to Emotional Health and Mental Wellbeing. We know that happy children make for a happy classroom, and we know that equipping children with a range of coping tools is vital in ensuring we are building happy and resilient children – this is why the Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends programmes are a crucial element of the whole school approach.

Oldham’s whole school approach is based on guidance from Public Health England, including their eight principles. These are:

  • Leadership and management
  • The school ethos and environment
  • Curriculum, teaching and learning
  • Student voice
  • Staff development, health and wellbeing
  • Identifying need and monitoring impact
  • Working with parents / carers
  • Targeted support

More guidance on how schools in Oldham and around the country can implement these in their schools can be found on our website.

With curriculum being one of the eight principles, we were finding our Oldham teachers were asking for ways to build their pupil’s resilience. We know that children are now facing much more complex issues in relation to their mental wellbeing, but the big question on everybody’s lips – how do they cope with this? Of course, it would be easy to run a few assemblies on coping strategies but would children forget half of them before playtime? Probably! We knew that in order to help support children, the skills needed to be developed at a pace children can digest this and fully understand it. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t teach maths in an assembly and never go back to it again! It’s exactly the same with social emotional learning programmes.

Zippy's Friends and Apple’s Friends have been a well-received programmes within our Oldham schools. We were in the fortunate position to fund places for 2 class teachers within all our schools to attend the training so they are able to deliver this back in their classes. We’ve found that teachers are fully committed to embedding the programme, and they’re already noticing that the skills learnt within Apple and Zippy sessions are being demonstrated by the children in a range of different ways. Teachers have talked about the impact within the classroom, within friendship groups and on the playground – we only hope this continues and grows.

Being in such a diverse borough, it’s refreshing that Apple and Zippy sessions are accessible for all, ensuring that there is a level playing field when supporting children and young people’s emotional wellbeing. Every child should have access to Apple and Zippy – the skills learnt are ones they will carry with them throughout their lives.

Partnership for Children, thank you for your collaborative working! Your Skills for Life programmes are making a real difference to the children of Oldham.

Aimee Thomas, Mental Wellbeing Advisor, Oldham Council
29 April 2019