Wigan borough school joins pilot scheme to support students' wellbeing

A school in the Wigan borough has joined a project dedicated to improving the mental health of pupils.
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Bedford High School, located on Manchester Road in Leigh, has teamed up with local arts and cultural education charity Curious Minds.

Training began in the summer term and the school has since implemented two initiatives including a Creative Health Module which involves exploring creative, arts and cultural approaches to improving health and wellbeing for young people, including how to recognise symptoms of poor mental health in themselves and their peers and how to seek help.

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Bedford High School students performing Mary PoppinsBedford High School students performing Mary Poppins
Bedford High School students performing Mary Poppins
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The second initiative is micro-commission which sees students work alongside a local artist known as Keizo, to create a mural as a reminder to pupils and staff that wellbeing support is always available.

Sarah Stafford, Head of Expressive Arts and Music at Bedford High School, said:

“We are delighted to take part in the Health and Wellbeing pilot project with Curious Minds as we are committed to both widening our arts and culture provisions and supporting students’ mental wellbeing.

“Nationally, research suggests 76 per cent of teenagers’ mental health declined during lock down and we too as a school have found that young people are increasingly reporting they are struggling with their wellbeing and in need of support.

The school have joined a scheme to promote wellbeing amongst pupils and staffThe school have joined a scheme to promote wellbeing amongst pupils and staff
The school have joined a scheme to promote wellbeing amongst pupils and staff
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"As educators, we are dedicated to doing all we can to alleviate students’ struggles and stress through hands-on, enriching activities designed to improve their mental wellbeing, and very much look forward to the benefits of this pilot project.”

School-specific data alongside the neighbourhood dashboard, will inform areas of focus for concerns raised, empowering them to introduce impactful interventions. Progress will be measured throughout by attendance, engagement and attitudes as well as an increased understanding of the support available.

Bedford High is a long standing partner of Curious Minds and has worked with them on several projects since 2016, including a large-scale concert at the Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall featuring more than 330 students from seven schools across Leigh. The relationship has transformed the state of arts education at the school and helped it achieve Platinum Artsmark status in 2021.

Emily Coop, a student at Bedford High, said: "Being in the arts at Bedford High School makes you feel really special especially with the opportunities they provide, for example, singing in the Royal Albert Hall in London."

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Fellow student Maisie Aspinall said: "Being in the arts at Bedford High School really helps me express myself and offers me so many opportunities."

And another pupil, Abigail Fletcher, added: "Bedford Arts is a massive family, it helps you express yourself and everyone cares so much. There are so many opportunities and shows and all the staff work so hard."

Emma Bush, Director of Education and Leadership at Curious Minds, said: “Young people’s mental health and wellbeing is a top priority for schools and for our team at Curious Minds and are thrilled to see such positive engagement already taking place within the participating schools.

“As we see more young people report mental health struggles and the increased pressure on limited mental health services grows stronger, it is vitally important to assess and adapt how we support them, ensuring we understand their needs and provide helpful outlets where they can relieve their stress before they reach a crisis point."

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