Aspen Heights British School recognizes the importance of taking a whole school approach to wellbeing.
Aspen Heights has a number of progressive and ever-evolving supports in place to promote the positive mental health and socio-emotional wellbeing of our community. Wellbeing initiatives for students are embedded into our core curriculum through the provision of mindfulness activities in classrooms, as well as daily wellbeing and circle time sessions.
In addition to this, AHBS strives to establish early intervention, undertake wellbeing assessments and has a pastoral care team that is actively involved in ensuring our students and their families feel supported and heard. Aspen Heights also has a school counsellor on site to: provide individual and/or group counselling sessions in a confidential setting, run social emotional learning lessons across key year groups, send out weekly wellbeing and mental health resources to parents/families, organise and run family workshops, and make external referrals as and when needed.
We have two qualified Adult to Adolescent Mental Health first aiders in our pastoral team, available to support students during any form of mental health crisis.
At AHBS we recognise that children’s mental health is a crucial factor in their overall wellbeing and can affect their learning and achievement. In order to foster a nurturing and supportive school environment AHBS has put the following measures in place to support our students:
- A specialist identification and intervention program for SEND
- The provision of 1:1 confidential counselling onsite
- Group work sessions that focus on restorative practice, friendship groups and social skills
- Implementation of Social Emotional Learning Lessons for key year groups
- Positively themed weekly assemblies across the school
- UAE’s moral education program being embedded into curriculum
- A comprehensive transition programme for Year 6 students as they step into Secondary School
In addition, we also acknowledge the importance of staff and family wellbeing in relation to its impact on the school community, environment and the facilitation of engaging learning and our wellbeing provision extends to all staff members as well as parents/families. Supports in place as outlined in the AHBS Wellbeing policy include but are not limited to the following provisions:
- a social committee and Buddy Program for our staff
- an open door policy
- in house training on children’s mental health
- access to our school counsellor for tailored advice and support
- family workshops on parenting and children’s mental health
- Yoga with Mrs Shanahan for our families
This year Aspen Heights British School has also successfully provided internal training to all staff members on how to identify signs of mental health decline in students, as well as tips on how to support their own mental health. We have also had a number of guest speakers speak to staff members about the importance of putting wellbeing at the centre of all that we do. Guest speakers have included – Matthew Savage, educational consultant and creator of ‘The Mona Lisa Effect’, and Paul Dix, behaviour management instructor and author of When the Adults Change.
Mental Health Award
Aspen Heights is committed to not only prioritising wellbeing in our own school but also to contributing positively to the development of the mental health space and wellbeing in the region. We have steadily been doing so by running wellbeing/mental health-based TeachMeet Sessions for colleagues across ISP Schools. We have also been sharing our best practice approach towards Inclusion and the provision of our Specialist Oasis classroom with ADEK.
Our principal Mrs Emma Shanahan regularly contributes to articles in news publications across the UAE to bring focus back onto wellbeing and mental health. Please see her contributions below –
‘How can families support children in the new school year’
‘How to teach kids to be Mindful’
‘UAE: Principal organises free yoga sessions to help school’s mums unwind.’
Our proactive approach to wellbeing and efforts in raising the profile of mental health has been acknowledged and applauded by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools. The Centre has awarded Aspen Heights a Silver Award for Mental Health, citing ‘The school has made significant progress in achieving a strong profile in the last twelve months building on
work that had already been an integral part of their culture and ethos’.
“Our class teachers and staff members have taken a proactive approach to challenging the stigma that surrounds mental health by openly speaking about it, seeking out information and supports for themselves and their students. Our teachers have been implementing mindfulness, yoga, stretching, calming corners, deep breathing and various other techniques into their classrooms. These are vital supports needed to maintain student mental health as they settle back into to face to face learning after an extended period of being online – I am so privileged to be working alongside our staff to further bring focus onto mental health and wellbeing.” – Redah Khan, School Counsellor
Aspen Heights looks forward to continuing to support our children, staff and families’ mental health and wellbeing as we further develop and grow.