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Willow Bank Junior School

Principles into Practice - Points 5 to 8

5.    We promote a culture in which children feel comfortable sharing concerns and worries with adults in school.  Although worries can affect all children, those in protected characteristic groups can face greater barriers than their peers do.  Three principles are at the heart of our approach to supporting children with their concerns.  Firstly, a recognition that what might seem like a small issue to an adult can feel hugely important to a child, so that we listen to the root of a child's anxiety rather than what might be its surface manifestation.  An example of this might be a child who complains that no-one will play with him or her, and understanding that what the child is probably feeling is not so much the denial of the game, but more a sense that other children do not find them appealing enough to play with. 


Secondly, we encourage children to develop the language and understanding of complex emotions, so that they are better able to articulate what they are feeling.  If a child can't explain what it is that is distressing them, they are less likely to seek help.  Children in certain protected characteristic groups may need greater levels of support in developing these skills.


Thirdly, we place great emphasis on the development of strong relationships between all adults and children in the school, based on mutual trust and respect.  Consequently, when a child feels vulnerable or worried, they are able to choose, from a number of adults that they know well, the person they feel most comfortable approaching.


6.    We also seek to promote a culture in the school that recognises the needs of staff members, whether this is in terms of emotional support, time off to attend family events or medical appointments, or requests for changes in working arrangements.  Because the individual needs of staff members can sometimes be directly linked to their membership of a protected characteristic group, we see our duty to be compassionate employers to be particularly relevant in supporting members of staff in this respect.


7.    We also promote a culture in which parents feel comfortable to approach the school with concerns or difficulties, which again can sometimes be linked to their membership of a protected characteristic group.  For two years in succession, 100% of parents who have responded to the annual parent survey have stated that they agreed with the statement, I would feel comfortable approaching the school with questions/a problem/complaint, with 81% saying they strongly agreed.  In addition to increasing parents' confidence in approaching the school with issues that may relate to protected characteristics, the strong relationships between staff and parents has helped to develop a culture where the strengths and needs of protected characteristic groups are understood, acknowledged and valued.


8.    The school makes constant reference to a calendar of world festivals and dates that are important for a range of protected characteristic groups, several copies of which are displayed around the school.  This supports our planning for key events in school, as well as raising our awareness of moments in the year that are important for children, staff and families across a wide range of protected characteristic groups.