Our ‘Thrive’ programme encompasses all our student mental health and well-being initiatives. ‘Thrive’ underpins our entire approach at Queen’s. Our Principal often remarks that pastoral care is the most important thing we do – after all, if a teenager isn’t happy they will not achieve academically. Since we formalised our ‘Thrive’ programme in 2020, it has been shortlisted for the prestigious TES Awards four years in a row.
As well as our clearly defined pastoral care structure, our ‘Thrive’ programme comprises:
Our Peer Mentor scheme offers sixth formers external training on supporting their Peer Mentee. This scheme, similar to a ‘big sister’ programme, has helped many junior pupils resolve friendship and other issues. 66% of our sixth formers are now trained Peer Mentors.
We train pupils in every year group to be Anti-Bullying Ambassadors; our leadership on this issue has been recognised externally by The Diana Award, who have had us host Anti-Bullying Ambassador training for around 100 other schools, as well as awarding us their prestigious ‘Well-being Badge’.
Resolve is a pastoral programme that helps younger pupils in Classes 3, 2 and 1 (Years 7, 8 and 9) resolve their own friendship issues in a constructive and successful manner. The scheme builds resilience among pupils, as well as cultivating leadership skills, communication skills, cooperation skills, confidence and tolerance. If pupil-led resolution does not work to resolve a friendship issue, or our teachers feel that stronger intervention is needed, then the situation may be referred to the College’s Peer Mentors who will run a mediation session.
Queen’s Off Screens
Here at Queen’s, we operate a strict mobile phone policy. Younger pupils who need a mobile phone to travel to and from the College are required to hand it in at the office at the start of the day and can only retrieve it when they leave the premises. Pupils from Year 11 are allowed to retain their phone throughout the school day and may use it for research in their private study sessions.
Alongside this approach, we run a comprehensive programme of e-safety education for both pupils and parents which includes workshops about safe use of social media channels, recommended evening curfews for pupils with their own mobile phones, monitoring of class WhatsApp groups and social media groups dedicated to positive comments only.
Most recently, as part of our Queen’s Off Screens programme, we have held regular ‘digital detox’ initiatives and made each year group swap their smartphones for a nokia brick ‘dumb phone’ for a whole week. We also issued every pupil with a Queen’s branded alarm clock, so no one has any excuse to take their phones into their bedrooms!
Thrive Themed Weeks
To highlight the importance of mental well-being, each term Queen’s runs a regular ‘Thrive’ themed week. These have included ‘Kindness Week’, where pupils and teacher recorded over 1,000 acts of kindness; and ‘Failure Week’, where teachers publicly shared their biggest failures to counter the culture of perfection facing teenagers.
Thrive On The Curriculum
We had such fantastic feedback on ‘Thrive’ in its first year that we have now made it a formal part of the curriculum for Years 7 and 8. Pupils study lessons in ‘Truth’, ‘Kindness’ and ‘Resilience’, taught by our Principal, Deputy Head (Pastoral) and Thrive Lead teacher.
Feedback from both pupils and parents has been overwhelmingly positive:
88% of parents surveyed said that ‘Thrive’ lessons had improved their daughter’s mental well-being.
77% of pupils felt ‘Thrive’ lessons were as or more valuable than other subjects; 70% of pupils felt ‘Thrive’ lessons improved their well-being; 75% said ‘Thrive’ helped them grow as a person.
Embedding 'Thrive' in our curriculum underlines our commitment to pupil well-being: this is not about one-off initiatives but is absolutely integral to our school ethos.
“Being a Peer Mentee has made me more social: it helped me become more comfortable in school life, confident and happy. It gives me a chance to open up; it’s good to voice my stress to someone who is not a teacher.”
Feedback from peer mentee (junior pupil)
“I wanted to say a huge thank you for making Failure Week happen… QCL made a total success of this! The videos, messages and personal stories all helped to give a real context to why failure is so important. I hope you don’t mind that I have shared some of the highlights with my son’s school as I really feel that it’s a brilliant message.”
Feedback from Parent
“It’s really good that the school puts the extra effort in this subject and focuses on mental well-being which is so important for the girls at this age. Please keep going with the Thrive lessons.”
Feedback from Year 8 parent.