A PRIMARY school in Barry has been named as the first school in Wales to receive a Trauma and Mental Health Informed School Award.

The award has been given for its commitment to children’s mental health and its relational approach to wellbeing and behaviour management.

The not-for-profit The Centre for Child Mental Health (CCMH) and Trauma Informed Schools UK (TIS UK), providers of trauma and mental health training for teachers and education staff across the UK, handed out the honour.

Gladstone Primary’s intervention showed significant improvements in behaviour, academic attainment, staff wellbeing and reduced disruptions and exclusions.

More than one in five (21 per cent) in the 480-pupil school have special educational needs and disability (SEND).

Nearly one in three (27 per cent) pupils are eligible for free school meals – more than the average of 19 per cent for Wales.

Gladstone Primary implemented a relational approach towards challenging behaviour and interventions to support a whole school cultural change - ensuring improved school bonding for pupils, optimising feelings of belonging, and actively supporting psychological and physical safety for all.

The emotional wellbeing of staff is equally important, and teachers have access to counselling services, regular coffee and chat time, social events, supervision and take part in being a ‘guardian angel’ to a fellow member of the team.

Director of education and training at the CCMH and co-director of TIS UK, Dr Margot Sunderland, said: “Gladstone Primary met the majority of the key Trauma Informed and Mentally Healthy School criteria evidencing key interventions to support the very best staff–pupil relationships known to markedly improve learning and academic attainment.”

“You can really feel the sense of emotional wellbeing as you walk around the school and the calm caring yet playful relationships that adults engage in at all levels promotes emotional regulation across the whole school culture,” said Suzie Franklin, education consultant and TIS UK Awards Assessor.

“The school’s ethos is focused on learning as the foundation for life, rather than league tables or exam results.

“Underpinning this is a comprehensive vision for students’ social, moral and cultural development.

“There is relationship policy for staff to ensure that interactions with pupils are reflective and warm, and the school really understands the evidence-based role that relationships play in shaping daily experiences.”

The school recognises that unless children are emotionally healthy and feel safe, secure and valued they will be unable to reach their potential or develop a love of learning.

Children are involved in the monitoring of lessons and given responsibilities to help them feel valued – which even include walking and looking after the school dog.

“The school has created an environment that supports all children with designated quiet areas, a memorial garden and extensive outdoor space.”

Head teacher Caroline Newman said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive the first Trauma and Mental Health Informed School Award in Wales for our ongoing dedication to the emotional wellbeing of our pupils.

“The approach has transformed our school’s culture and reduced incidents of disruption, conflict and internal exclusions.

“It is a key strategy for facilitating school improvement and has been at the forefront of our work in terms of behaviour and wellbeing.

“Receiving this award continues to validate our approach and we are extremely proud to be recognised as a Trauma and Mental Health Informed School.”