Undy Primary School’s focus on mental health


“We’re in a sort of natural amphitheatre on this site, surrounded by green. It’s a lovely site,” said co-headteacher Mr Gunn, obviously proud of his school.

He has occupied the top position for the last 14 years and has shared his role for the last year and a half.

“Mrs Willis is my co-head,” he explained.

“We have some young staff who are just starting on their educational journey and some staff like myself – I’m in my 39th year of teaching now.”

The integration of individuals of varying ages is something which is held in high regard at Undy Primary.

The 356 children who attend the school range in age from two and a half to eleven years of age – this included the on-site nursery which caters for the youngest of the pupils.

“We are a successful school; the children and the staff all enjoy coming to work,” said Mr Gunn.

“I’m glad to work here, it’s a great place to work.”

That enthusiasm is borne out in the attitude of the students.

Through pupil-led groups such as the school council, sports council, Criw Cymraeg, Eco Club the students are able to make their voices heard and influence decisions made at the school which will ultimately concern them.

This pupil involvement is one way in which the school caters to provide support for pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

Speaking in the school’s community newspaper, written and created by pupils, Mia Peacock and Liliana Marinou said: “Here at Undy Primary, we have a trained (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) ELSA, Mrs Searle, to help children who may need support in this area.”

ELSAs assist children in learning how to manage their emotions, build self-esteem and express themselves.

“I also run SEAL groups (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning)”, said Mrs Searle.

“These usually help remind the children about how we behave towards each other – building confidence, making friends, listening and appropriate reactions to feeling angry.

“I help them express their feelings in a healthy way rather than keeping them bottled up inside.”

Mr Gunn added that mindfulness permeated all aspects of life at the school with the emphasis on being able to learn from mistakes and failure.

“We like to include mindfulness whenever we can,” he said.

“We like to say “if you don’t succeed, it’s not that you don’t understand how to do it, you just don’t understand it yet”.

“It’s about that approach to education, errors are things you can learn from.”

At the same time as being supported by specially trained members of staff, the students at Undy Primary are also liaising with adults in order to get across points they feel to be important to their life at school and beyond.

“We had a governors meeting recently, for example, where our Eco Club who were talking very eloquently about whether they should take part in the latest proposed climate change strike for pupils,” said Mr Gunn.

“They decided they’d rather have an eco-awareness day and an electricity-free day.

“We’ll have to see how that works out, obviously we won’t be able to do any IT with no electricity, but the important thing is that it’s come from the children.

“They’re full of ideas and very insightful thoughts.

“I’m pleased that we’ve given them the opportunity to share that.”

Another idea which encompasses all aspects of daily life at the school is the overall theme.

Throughout the year a theme will be implemented across all lessons to provide cohesion in learning.

The theme at the moment is ‘the amazing and the wonderful’.

“This takes inspiration from The Greatest Showman which is really popular at the moment,” said Mr Gunn.

“We’ve been doing loads of stuff linked to that theme.

“It could be circus skills or more classroom-based such as one workshop where the children wrote down what they thought made something amazing and wonderful. It’s a good way to inspire more creativity.”

Creativity is certainly being inspired as the school’s summer concert is set to draw heavily on the musical starring Hugh Jackman.

Rehearsals are already well under way in the school’s fully kitted-out main hall.

Choreography and singing in harmony are just some of the ways the students are employing their creativity to fit in with the theme.

“It’s always a sell-out,” said Mr Gunn, pleased to note not only the creative success of the students.

Academic success is also highly prized as one would expect, and it is not hard to find at the school.

“We are a ‘green’ categorised school in terms of the Welsh Government’s school categories,” said Mr Gunn.

“At the moment our PTA are helping to fund an investment into Chromebooks and iPads, allowing us to address the digital competency framework which is part of the Curriculum for Wales.

“We also invest in staff training with regards to the Curriculum for Wales.”

He went on to say that Undy primary is a learning network school.

This means that other schools within the Education Achievement Service (EAS) come to them to have a look at their foundation phase practice and also our Welsh language work.

“What we do is seen as exemplary across the EAS,” added Mr Gunn.

It’s not just other schools who seek out Undy Primary however, through their community links, groups such as the Scouts, bowls club and rotary club all make use of the school’s facilities.





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