At Kirkstall Valley, we are a year and a half into our journey to becoming a school that empowers children to protect, nourish and advocate for their own mental wellness. Children have significant curriculum time dedicated to teaching them about emotional wellbeing and mental health and teachers are skilled at tailoring this to suit the needs of the pupils they teach. Using and adapting a highly-recommended set of lessons, teachers provide children with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to be compassionate, resilient and mentally strong in today’s challenging world.
Children also develop their understanding of themselves and the world through our teaching of PSHE. Again, we use and tailor a very robust curriculum to ensure our learners get the most bespoke teaching possible, whilst ensuring a broad coverage that builds on prior learning. This encompasses: drugs, alcohol and tobacco education; keeping safe out and about and managing risk; friendships, relationships, conflict and bullying; sex and relationship education; healthy lifestyles, Modern British Values; media influences and pressures; mental health. Children’s prior knowledge is always assessed, and we check understanding and knowledge retention, post-teaching.
The success of the above areas have been recognised and celebrated through the achievement of Healthy Schools, MindMate Friendly and MindMate Champion status.
We ensure our children are responsible users of technology. Online safety is fully woven in to every computing unit that children are taught – they will understand the risks and responsibilities in the context they are working. We recognise that this alone is not enough, and supplement this curriculum with discrete lessons on online safety. The school subscribes to a bulletin which is distributed to parents, detailing current threats, guidance and support with regards to safe use of technology. Staff are confident and proactive in tackling incidents of technological misuse, with both parents and children, and guidelines have a high profile in the school environment.
We have been recognised for our work on finance, budgeting and future aspirations, by our Investors in Pupils, and we are constantly aiming to do more for our children. We have an annual event which encourages children to think about their future and the skills and attributes they’ll need for this pathway. We also use this opportunity to teach discrete lessons on managing budgets and responsibilities. The children have visits from adults from a variety of jobs and backgrounds throughout the year. These adults share their journeys and experiences, and children have the opportunity to ask questions. In partnership with Wates Construction, we will also be delivering a pilot programme to our children aimed at encouraging them to look broadly at industries such as the construction industry and STEM careers.
We understand that our children may not get the same opportunities as other children and we want to change this. With the contributions of parents, children, staff and governors, we are implementing ’11 by 11’ – our promise to families that their children will have eleven rich and meaningful experiences, on top of what we do already, by the time they leave primary school.
We aim to share our personal development curricula with parents, holding information events and providing curriculum materials. We also have visitors, themed weeks and focus days to complement the development of these areas.
Our school is devoted to facilitating the best personal development for each and every child who comes through our door, regardless of any barriers they face. We invest heavily in staff who can make this happen, especially for children whose path may not take an expected course. We look at children as individuals, and, where needed, offer 1:1 or small group talk-time, focused sessions for specific personal skills/concerns, nurture groups, a variety of therapies e.g. Lego-based therapy, talk and draw. We also finance external support where needed.