Health is of the up most importance to all of us at Merritts Brook Academy. We believe that a healthy and happy learner is far better equipped for the future challenges they will face. In school we value physical health and well being highly. We are currently working towards achieving our Gold Health School's Award status. Children, staff and parents are working together to achieve great things for both our learners and the wider community.
Be Healthy Schools’ Award – Merritts Brook Primary Academy
The school has undertaken a wide range of activities to embed and further promote the wellbeing of the entire school community. The work addressed two core areas of development:
1. Whole school opportunities to encourage positive health behaviour
2. Physical health and activity
Areas of need were identified through staff consultation and online pupil and parent consultations. This report draws on the findings from the Validation Visit carried out on 5th July 2017 by Jo Perrin, Education Adviser, and Helen Grundy, Education Adviser.
The school demonstrates a high level of commitment to pupils’ physical and emotional health and wellbeing. The programme has been led by a dedicated and enthusiastic member of staff with support from key colleagues. There is commitment to resourcing health-related activities and initiatives and a whole-school drive to progress. There is evidence of regular communication with parents, encouraging parents’ participation in school-related activities.
There has been a wider effect of some initiatives than originally expected. Special mention must be made of the significant work completed to engage parents with projects occurring in school. Pupils have taken home ideas discussed in school, for example relating to the new healthy eating policy in school where certain unhealthy snacks are banned. This has helped parents to feel comfortable in engaging with the school in a variety of ways regarding other topics, including parents communicating challenges they felt with supporting their children with homework so a homework club was set up and parents regularly volunteering in different capacities in school. Some parents had a fixed mind-set at the beginning of the process but now are reported to ask the school what else they can do to support the school’s aims.
Feedback from pupils and staff was supported by data evidencing the progress made and the plans for sustainability and progress in the future. Children spoke with pride about their school and were confident and articulate in describing how the school encourages everyone to be healthy.
Areas of Focus
- Whole school community opportunities to encourage positive health behaviour: The fact that Merritts Brook was working towards the Be Healthy Schools’ Award was well-publicised, with mentions of activities in staff briefings weekly and notice of activities in newsletters. Within school, healthy eating has been a focus for the whole school community. A new school Healthy Eating plan was implemented as part of this programme and pupil engagement and ownership of these new ideas has been overwhelmingly positive. Pupils were able to describe in detail what healthy food options were encouraged at school, including the breakfast club, the school shop on a Wednesday and the toast on sale on a Friday – the fact that the senior leadership team run this demonstrates that this is given a high priority in school. Pupils were confident in describing what food is allowed to be brought in from home and what constitutes a healthy and an unhealthy snack. If pupils repeatedly bring in items that are not healthy there is a clear procedure followed to engage parents on the topic of healthy eating. There is a new provider for school meals and pupils reported that the school council conducts surveys to ensure student voice about the food on offer yearly. There was a sense that pupils felt their suggestions were considered and there was feedback and they knew where to access the menu for the canteen. Pupils were also keen to discuss the widened opportunities they have for leaning about healthy eating within the curriculum and could explain what they learned in “Health Week” and the activities they engaged in (including the use of the smoothie bike). They reported that they all enjoy cooking in school and would like to do more. There has been regular communication with parents, signposting about local sports and health related activities available in the community, which impacts on whole families and supports the school ethos. The school has worked hard to ensure that the wider curriculum is linked to outdoor learning across the age groups, including the use of year group planters linked to curriculum topics. Forest schools has been a success with a targeted group of students and will be rolled out to more students in the next academic year. Staff have received a programme of CPD on a variety of topics, led by varied staff members, to ensure that progress is sustainable. In particular staff have been encouraged to understand the benefits of outdoor learning, incorporating some mindfulness techniques, which impacted on staff’s own health as well as giving suggestions of how to incorporate it in the curriculum. CPD has linked to school data to demonstrate the relevance for the setting which proved a powerful catalyst for change. Outside speakers are a regular feature of the curriculum and also offer support to staff.
- Physical health and activity: The school has a dedicated lead member of staff for physical activity who has been instrumental in ensuring curriculum provision for physical activity is varied and regular. Pupils enjoyed describing a wide variety of sports clubs they can access at different times of the day, and how the school arranges that different year groups have the opportunity to access certain equipment on different days, through the zoning system. As part of the school’s strategy to combat obesity, the school has worked on the Run a Mile initiative and feedback undertaken has shown improved fitness levels and a positive impact on emotional well-being. 100% of children surveyed reported that this activity makes them feel happy. In addition to this, the school has received the Sainsbury’s School Games Gold Award and is planning to work towards the platinum award. Staff recognise that emotional health and wellbeing is key to ensuring young people can achieve their potential at Merritts Brook and work on physical wellbeing also incorporates support for emotional health and well-being – both within the curriculum and strongly evidenced by the emphasis placed on pupil voice and a holistic approach to education. Pupils were overwhelmingly positive about their school and look forwards to each school day. They were able to describe who in school would help if they had any worries (many mentioned talking to a trusted adult and were able to identify who that would be) and they had also learned how to keep safe in the local community and online. Pupils felt that they could raise suggestions for the school via the school council and that their ideas would be acted upon.
Following the visit on 6th July 2017 Merritts Brook Primary Academy has been granted the ‘Be Healthy Schools’ Award’.
The following points regarding sustainability and future growth were discussed:
- Some pupils indicated that whilst they enjoyed the lunchtime experience, sometimes footballs were kicked against the canteen windows and outside. Some pupils found this made them a little anxious. Others reported that they found the canteen a little loud and therefore not a relaxing experience. It is to be hoped that in the new build designs, some account can be taken of this.
- Pupils did feel overwhelmingly that they enjoyed any opportunities to cook within the school environment and would appreciate the opportunity to do more of this in the future.
- Some pupils raised that on occasion they have seen their teachers with coke, crisps or chocolate and they found this challenging as they knew the rules of such items being confiscated from pupils. However, they could articulate that treats are acceptable occasionally. It might be worth revisiting this on a regular basis with staff and students to ensure a consistency of approach.
- The majority of pupils reported that they enjoy coming to school, but a minority felt that sometimes playing football causes fights. This led onto a discussion regarding what would happen and there was a feeling that historically some staff may not have fully dealt with incidences of perceived poor treatment/bullying. However the consensus was that current staff in school do support all students and that there are clear systems in place which are followed. Regularly monitoring consistency of approach will ensure this situation does not arise again. Pupils reported that they think the school thinks feeling safe is very important.
- The remodelling of the PSHE curriculum by introducing a different resource for Relationships and Sex Education will be crucial in ensuring the sustainability of the changes made this academic year. Regular monitoring of delivery and ongoing culture to support health in all its forms is to be encouraged.
- Future plans for increased use of the school garden area and forest schools area for example will ensure development of health related support for the whole school community.
- The opportunity to share good practice will other regional school in the Academy Trust will be positive and also ensure sustainability at Merritts Brook.
- The proposed new school build will hopefully give opportunities for more grassed areas for both physical activity and for gardening.
It was fantastic to see Year 5 making healthy smoothies. They found out all about the healthy ingredients before deciding on which recipes they wanted to use. Lord Alan Sugar would be impressed with their business skills as they then helped to run a shop after school to sell some of our healthy smoothies. It was a fantastic atmosphere! Thank you to all of the parents who supported, bought smoothies and even rode the smoothie bike itself! It was really positive to see so many people smiling and feeling good about themselves.
It's been great to hear that so many people have gone home and made similar healthy choices outside of school. I'm really proud of you.
Well done to the Year 5 and 6 Athletics team. They have shown dedication, resilience and have set high expectations of themselves. They competed against 180 other children and represented the school fantastically well. They competed in sprints, obstacle races, relay races, the triple jump, long jump, speed bounce, soft javelin and many more events too. The standard of competition was really high. We finished in 8th place overall, which is a new personal best for the school in this competition. Can we beat our personal best next year?
Mr Stimpson, who is the head of P.E at Shenley Academy commented on how impressed he was by our school. Keep it up everyone!
Year 3 have been taking part in a weekly street dancing class as part of their Urban Pioneers topic. This has been a great way to build up our fitness and also have fun!
During health week, year 3 also had a great time making healthy smoothies on the smoothie bike! Not only were we making a really healthy snack but we were doing exercise whilst we made it! We used strawberries, raspberries, yogurt, honey, kiwis and lemon juice to make a combination of yummy smoothies!
We also used the ipads to find out how much of each food group we should eat each day and to research the amount of sugar in some of the foods we eat regularly. We were very surprised with what we found!
We explored lots of different fruits and vegetables comparing them based on their appearance, texture smell and taste. We then made our own healthy food plates with our favourite fruits and vegetables
Developing our Health and Self Care in Nursery
In Nursery we have been developing our independence in Health and Self Care. We learnt about when and why it is important to was our hands, we all went home with an award for being 'super hand washers!' We practised dressing ourselves by putting our coats on and pulling up the zippers without a lot of help from others. We thought about the changes to our bodies when we exercised and finished each day with fun yoga to develop a healthy mind.
We also had a really exciting time when the smoothie bike came to visit us. The grown ups made the smoothie by peddling, however we all ran super fast to help to power the bike! We all had so much fun we couldn't stop laughing! We then got to enjoy our delicious smoothie. Finally we used tools safely to make a fruit salad.
We are becoming super at managing our own health and Self Care in Nursery, we focus on it everyday!