Our mental health and wellbeing strategy focuses on building pupils’ sense of resilience, so that they can weather the inevitable challenges that life may throw their way throughout adolescence and beyond.
These preventative efforts focus on those elements that we know support healthy and balanced lives, including good habits of exercise, nutrition and sleep, and having positive links with others.
Our school-wide wellbeing initiative BOUNCE (Brain, Optimism, Unwind, Nutrition, Connect, Exercise) has been running for three years and is designed to encourage self-reliance and resilience.
Although BOUNCE is embedded in the tutorial programme for the whole year, the culmination of the initiative takes place during the annual BOUNCE week of wellbeing activities.
As part of Latymer’s approach to supporting our students’ wellbeing, we have established an outstanding Peer Mentoring scheme which sees older student volunteers offering a listening ear to younger students in Years 7 and 8. Peer Mentors are carefully selected and the positions are highly sought after by Year 11 and Sixth Form students. They receive special training from our school counsellors and other senior teachers in areas like safeguarding and how to pass issues to the right members of staff.
Younger students tell us that they really value the Peer Mentors’ role and the ability to speak with someone who has been through the school and experienced the Lower School only a few years previously. Common things that Peer Mentors tell us they are asked is how to manage homework, cope with friendship issues or choose which sports to select. The Peer Mentoring scheme is something we are really proud of at Latymer, giving younger students a choice about who they might want to initially speak to about an issue, as well as providing older students with the opportunity to develop their listening skills and contribute to community life.
It is an exciting time to be a Chaplain. In a year when the NHS has appointed its first lead humanist chaplain alongside more traditional faith groups, Chaplaincy in schools, prisons, hospitals, football clubs and even airports is increasingly becoming more valued. Chaplains come from many faith traditions and draw inspiration from their own beliefs and traditions to serve multi-faith communities without prejudice or judgement.
At Latymer, as with many other independent schools, I follow in a long line of Chaplains at the School. Within the Chaplaincy we seek to honour and value the religious traditions and history of the school whilst embracing its present community of all different faith positions and pluralist views. One root of the word Chaplain comes from the Latin ‘capella’, meaning little cloak, which Martin of Tours gave to a person in need. This story reflects the aim of the Chaplain today, to offer support and a listening ear to anyone, regardless of background, without agenda or programme. The Chaplain can also act as a mentor to students to offer further assistance to supplement and bolster the important work of pastoral and academic staff.
As a school community, we celebrate the history of Latymer and its hopes for the future together on Foundation Day, Remembrance and Christmas Carol services. The breadth of cultures in the School means we also enjoy discovering the significant festivals and holy days of the many faiths practised by our student and staff body. Our beautiful Chapel at the top of the E block provides a sanctuary to be silent, meditate, pray or simply be, away from the busyness of school life – the Chapel is home to our increasingly popular Mindfulness courses. Indeed, as William Wordsworth reminds us in ‘The Tables Turned’, we all need a place to learn to:
‘Come forth, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives’.
Greg Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org