At Bishopton it is recognised that good mental health is paramount and is a non-negotiable if our students are to thrive.
At Bishopton we are proud to have a bespoke mental health offer that is available for all our students.
We have an onsite Psychotherapeutic counsellor who can work with issues such as developmental trauma and attachment as well as grief, loss, and anxiety,
We also use trainee therapists from the Northern Guild to increase our therapeutic capacity. This means our students do not have wait more than a few weeks at most to be allocated a therapist. The number of sessions our students receive is based on need not on time constraints.
We also work with the Mental health Support Team at Stockton through the Trailblazer project. This gives us access to resources and a dedicated Educational mental health Practitioner who can work with lower-level issues such as low self-esteem and anxiety.
We are also part of the Anna Freud Schools and Colleges Early Support Service which allows us to refer appropriate students to their online service to work with a qualified practitioner.
Bishopton PRU believe that opportunities to work with animals provide unique opportunities for learning. We recognise our responsibility to provide a safe environment and positive learning experiences for all pupils and a high standard of care and welfare to all animals involved.
The value of pet ‘therapy’ is widely accepted as a powerful aid to stimulation and communication. Studies have shown that the presence of companion animals can improve the well-being of children and lower the rate of anxiety, simply by making the environment happier, more enjoyable and less forbidding.
Our aims in bringing animals into the school environment:
- To help pupils develop increased respect, empathy and a sense of responsibility for living things.
- To encourage pupils to consider the experiences and needs of other living things, including other pupils, school staff, and their families.
- To promote an interest in the natural environment and support hands-on learning across all areas of the curriculum.
- To help pupils develop a calm, confident, and sensitive manner when interacting with animals.
- To demonstrate best practice in the care of pets and other animals.
- To encourage pupils to consider careers working with animals.
Schools can be extremely stressful settings for students, creating a strain on resources that can help young people cope with emotions, disorders or relationships. Therapy dogs provide an inexpensive way to assist students in focusing on their education. They provide a comforting presence that should be available to young people in need.
The introduction of a non-threatening therapy dog can serve as a catalytic vehicle for forming adaptive and satisfactory social interactions. Guided activities and group discussions help teach students how to handle interpersonal conflicts and develop constructive responses.
The simple act of petting a dog is shown to reduce blood pressure. Lower levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, and an increase in oxytocin are also associated with pet therapy and contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular health. In short, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression positively affects physical health.
The dog’s also stay with their family, not at the school, so the cost for food, supplies, and veterinary bills go to the owner of the dog.
Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) curriculum aims to develop the underpinning qualities and skills that help promote positive behaviour and effective learning. It focuses on five social and emotional aspects of learning: self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills.
The approach and learning materials help children and young people develop skills such as understanding another’s point of view, working in a group, sticking at things when they get difficult, resolving conflict and managing worries.