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Grove Life – Happiness and Wellbeing
Woodhouse Grove is a school that I have a deep connection with, having come here as a boy and boarded for 7 years. It is a school I love and am very proud of; the community is very dear to me and to my family – both my children are here at The Grove.
At Woodhouse Grove, we have always been known for our unique approach to education, focusing on nurturing the individual and helping each pupil grow into the very best version of themselves that they can be. But becoming the best that you can be is not limited to one aspect of school life. Being a Grovian is about more than academic success, sporting prowess or performing in the theatre. It is about becoming a more rounded individual, ready to meet the challenges the world beyond education will throw at you.
Pastoral care has a very important role to play in achieving this and is at the heart of everything we do. We have a strong pastoral system; well established Learning Support and Pastoral Teams offering provision and interventions that match the needs of students. Form Tutors, Heads of Year, an extremely good Chaplain and, of course, our Head of Wellbeing all spend a lot of time helping and supporting our pupils as they face the challenges of the modern day. At The Grove, each pupil is viewed as an individual but also as a member of a great community. Ultimately, we all have our individual characters, qualities and weaknesses. The strength of the Grove is that we aim to embrace these differences, educate where mistakes are made and cultivate a community that is respectful and honourable.
The very strong sense of community that we have here encourages our students to look out for one another. There is a strong mutual respect between our pupils. That’s where The Hub – our peer drop-in centre – comes in. Open every lunchtime and manned by trained staff and sixth formers, The Hub is a place where students of all ages can come to chat about any problems or concerns that they might have – school related or otherwise. Worries raised cover a multitude of subjects; exam or homework stress, friendship and relationship issues, sexuality, family tensions and divorce and mental health.
Rebecca Vernon, our Head of Wellbeing and PSHE and a fully trained Mental Health First Aider says:
A child may come into The Hub and just sit on the beanbags and chat to others in the room without actually mentioning what is worrying them. Sometimes it is enough to know they are not alone – and some lovely friendships have blossomed here. In other instances, it may take a number of these casual visits before a child feels comfortable enough to approach a member of staff or a sixth former to talk about a specific problem.
The Hub is just one of the factors that resulted in Woodhouse Grove being awarded the Wellbeing Award for Schools. We were the first independent school to achieve this and we were thrilled with our reaccreditation after three years which demonstrated our continued commitment to supporting pupil’s wellbeing and refining our approach. The Award has been developed in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, with a focus on ensuring effective practice and provision is in place within schools to promote the emotional wellbeing and mental health of both staff and pupils. It centres on the long-term culture of a school, embedding an ethos where mental health is regarded as the responsibility of all; a community enterprise.
Parents of potential Woodhouse Grove pupils often use our prospectus and website to learn what The Grove is like. Both are filled with cheerful images depicting day to day school life; children chatting happily to their friends, teachers and pupils engaged in lessons, a fun games lesson. Flicking through the prospectus or browsing the website are great ways to be reminded how privileged we all are to be working and learning at The Grove.
But with this privilege comes a responsibility to acknowledge and care for the individuals that make up this wonderful community – individuals with lives that sometimes do not feel as perfect as a glossy publicity image. We take our responsibility to help them learn how to cope with these imperfections seriously and let them know “it is okay, not to be okay”.
It goes without saying that happy students will be motivated and achieve all they can – be it in the classroom, on the sports field or within the performing arts. Happy is what we want from Day One. This begins with their transition to us from primary school and continues all the way through their career with us at The Grove. We want all our pupils to feel safe, secure, respected and happy within our school community.
So, as you leaf through our prospectus or browse our website, be safe in the knowledge that the happy, smiley children pictured know that there is always somewhere to go and someone to speak to, should those smiles ever feel difficult to achieve.
The Grove is not just a school, we are a community – and, as in any community, we take responsibility for each other’s wellbeing. I benefitted from this many years ago, as a boy of 11 far from home, and it is my privilege, in my role as Deputy Head Pastoral, to ensure that this remains true for all our current pupils – and those still to join us.
Anthony Cadman, Deputy Head Pastoral