Welsh Network for Healthy Schools Scheme
Welsh Network for Healthy Schools Scheme (WNHSS)
At PDCS we were a pilot school for WNHSS in 1999 and have continued to work tirelessly to achieve the indicators set out by WNHSS, progressing steadily through the 5 phases and achieving the prestigious National Quality Award (NQA) in July 2009. We were the first primary school in Wales to achieve the NQA. We are the only school to have been successfully reassessed four times, in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
We pride ourselves at PDCS on our ‘whole-school’ approach to the work that we undertake to promote the health and well-being of our pupils. We follow all guidance and advice issued at Healthy School coordinators meetings, enabling the whole school to focus its work which then directly impacts on the overall well-being of pupils.
We are proud to be a Gold Rights Respecting School, children's rights are central to everything we do at PDCS. A Rights Respecting School teaches children and young people that they have rights under the UNCRC. Children also learn their responsibility to respect others' rights in all relationships in the community. The ethos created demonstrates to children the inclusiveness of a Rights Respecting School and paves the way to participation in the life of the community. 'This in turn helps them to learn how to formulate, express and listen to opinions, helping to raise achievement.’ (UNICEF)
Mental and emotional health and well-being of pupils are central to effective learning, regardless of socio-economic background. Pupils are monitored regularly at pupil reviews to ensure the necessary provision is made available for their well being. Clubs, interventions and nurture provision are organised to help pupils to fulfill their potential in school and in life by building their self-esteem. We provide a safe place for the children to rehearse their social skills and gain in confidence and self-esteem within an accepting group. We have Progress Teams from EY to Yr 6 run by teachers and LSAs to help provide real-life experiences to pupils, including Coastal Schools, Forest Schools, shopping, cooking and gardening. These experiences are linked to the curriculum providing literacy and numeracy skills in a real-life context.
All pupils have opportunities to actively participate in decision-making in the school through Class Council and School Council, Super Ambassadors, Rights Respecting Group, Young Leaders, Digital Leaders, Criw Cymraeg, Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSO), Playground Buddies, Young Restorative Practice group and Eco-Committee. Many school staff - teachers, support staff, governors, catering manager and site manager - assist pupils in the organisation and managing of their committees. Pupils participate in deciding on actions required, depending on the wants and needs of the school, consulting, adopting and delivering the actions. Pupils are involved in the process of writing appropriate policy documents. PDCS is a school that teaches rights and values and seeks to promote a way of life based on valuing self, others and the environment. We have been awarded the Pupil Participation National Kite Mark for our outstanding work and commitment to pupil voice.
As a Healthy School the school regularly reinforce the message of healthy eating and that pupils need to make the right choices. The School Council is responsible for planning activities throughout the year to reinforce healthy eating. They plan and organise food taster sessions, ‘special-day’ menus, invitations to parents to join their children for lunch and the selling of fruit. We run a six week programme to help parents and their children cook together. They take home recipe cards to try at home and enjoy reading together whilst waiting for their food to cook. This has proved to be a great success.
The school fully understands that exercise is essential to a healthy life style. Pupils are encouraged to participate in ‘out of school learning’ activities in addition to the PE curriculum. Many pupils attend numerous sports clubs after school. They thoroughly enjoy the programme of activities, which runs throughout the year. All children from EY upwards run a daily 1km which has helped improve levels of fitness as well as helping children focus more in class. We all enjoy regular yoga sessions, mindfulness and outdoor learning. KS2 benefit from weekly Parkour sessions.
As a Pioneer School for the new curriculum we work with a schools network and Welsh Government to help define the new Welsh Curriculum. We already plan using the Four Purposes and AOLEs providing learning experiences which encourage pupils to become healthy, confident individuals. Teachers consult with pupils on which topics they would like to study, these have ranged from PJ Masks to understanding more about sustainability for their future. We have moved away from the traditional classroom layouts to more relaxed digi-den study areas and bean-bag areas for pupils to carry out independent learning activities. Our corridor floors are covered in stickers to encourage children to be physically active, they no longer walk down the corridors they hop, skip, count, jump and even perform hand-stands!
We have introduced an asymmetric week where the teaching day is extended from Monday to Thursday to allow an early finish at lunchtime on Fridays. This allows for pupils to either go home and spend time with their families to improve well-being or stay and participate in a wide range of activities that they have chosen. Staff benefit from an increase in dedicated professional development time or their own well-being afternoon.
Whole school planning in areas such as Substance Use and Misuse, Safety, Hygiene, Personal Development and Relationships is embedded, demonstrating progression throughout the school and ensuring continuity and coverage. Planning through the new curriculum has meant that these areas are covered in a cross-curricular manner and are not just stand-alone lessons. We use many valued agencies to assist us in the delivery of specialised areas of the Healthy Schools indicators. The Police Liaison Officer delivers a programme of exciting and informative activities to pupils. Specialist services such as dental nurses, school nurse, community police, and counselling service all ensure that the pupils are appropriately informed and all their needs are met.
Parents and pupils have benefitted from a wide range of parental engagement activities, these have impacted positively on their confidence and helped improve self-esteem. We have created a community intergenerational choir where members join together weekly for a chat and a sing. We are a true community school.
The school was awarded the Eco-Schools Platinum Award in 2008. The school coordinators for Healthy Schools, Eco Schools and Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship believe that these are all closely linked and that they impact on each other.
The benefits to the pupils, staff and community over many years, by progressing steadily through the phases of Healthy Schools, has had a significant impact on the whole school community. Pupils are very aware that they need to ensure they should make the right choices in their lives; they are independent learners who relish challenge and know that their voices are heard and valued. The parents are proud of their children’s achievements, gained confidence and self esteem by being involved with Healthy School initiatives.
We were extremely proud this year to be a finalist for the Welsh National Teaching Award for the 'Promoting Well-being, Inclusion and Relations with the Community' award. This was a fantastic achievement for the whole school.
We pride ourselves that staff and pupils are a whole school community working together to be a ‘Healthy School’, ensuring that all feel happy, cared for, valued, respected and successful. Pupils are proud of their contributions, key roles in decision making and participation, the changes they have made through their actions and their improved knowledge of living a healthy lifestyle. These are all areas which have enhanced their lives. We are united in the common goal that every child deserves success, regardless of their needs, backgrounds or any adversities. Pembroke Dock Community School is indeed a Healthy School!