Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Provision
Positive mental health and wellbeing is a thread that runs through the whole ethos and curriculum of The Unicorn School. All our staff are committed to supporting pupils from a pastoral as well as academic perspective. If we feel that a pupil would benefit from additional, focussed mental health provision they can be invited to join a social skills group run by our Speech and Language Therapy Team or to have one to one ELSA sessions run by one of our two ELSA counsellors. More information about these groups follows:
Social Skills Groups
Social skills are the skills we use everyday to interact & communicate with others. They include verbal and non-verbal communication, such as talking, gesture, facial expression and body language. At the Unicorn School social skills groups are run by the Speech & Language Therapy Team (The Speech & Language Therapist or the Speech & Language Therapy Assistant). These groups focus on developing a student's social skills in a group with their peer group. This allows students to practise their social skills with their peers instead of just talking about them theoretically. We use the Zones of Regulation Programme throughout the school to identify & discuss different emotions, this is often referred to in our social skills groups.
We focus on many different topics during these weekly 45 minute sessions, following a program designed to give the students practical strategies to use in a wide variety of contexts. At the start of each group we always talk about how everyone is doing and if there is anything anyone wants to discuss in the group that week, sometimes the session develops from this initial discussion. Some of the areas we focus on are; discussing different emotions (e.g. what do different emotions feel like? How do we calm ourselves down when we get in the red zone?), developing understanding of different perspectives, building resilience, understanding other points of view and others' motivations, safety outside in the community and online.
We are very fortunate at The Unicorn School to have two Emotional Literacy Support Assistants or ELSAs, Melanie John and Sally McEwan. ELSA sessions are delivered on a one to one basis for 20 minutes once a week. They are usually delivered in 6 week blocks but can be repeated if it is felt to be of benefit to that pupil. The sessions have a wonderfully nurturing atmosphere designed to make the pupil feel safe and confident about sharing their feelings. The ELSA programme is dedicated to helping individuals to recognise, understand and manage their emotions. The programme covers five key areas:
1. Understanding emotions
3. Understanding and managing anger
4. Friendship skills
5. Social Skills
More information about ELSA can be found at www.elsa-support.co.uk
SCHOOL THERAPY DOG
We have a therapy dog (and owner) both trained and certified by Therapy Dog Training UK. His name is Briggs, he is based in the Reception area, and can also be seen most mornings at the front of the school welcoming students and playing ball with them! He is available for some quiet 1:1 time when any student feels they need a helping paw.