Iain welcomes new film highlighting importance of relationships to pupils’ wellbeing

Iain Gray MSP has welcomed a new film highlighting the importance of relationships in supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing in education.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week – 18-24 May children’s charity, Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland launched a new film for everyone involved in educating children and young people – ‘It’s All About Relationships: Embedding relational, trauma sensitive approaches in education settings’.

The film highlights practical examples and tips that education staff can build into their everyday practice to support positive relationships with young people. Relationships between staff and pupils will be even more important as considerations are made about when to reopen schools following the Covid-19 lockdown, now more than ever, education environments which are relational and trauma-sensitive will be crucial.

Welcoming the new resource, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Children’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing are all essential to promoting and supporting successful learning. This new film highlights the innovative ways schools and others are helping improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing through the development of positive relationships.

“Various surveys have underlined the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has put children and young people under intense strain, with rapid and difficult change happening in virtually all aspects of their lives. High quality relationships will be vital in helping children cope as they return to school and get used to the new normal in the months and years ahead.”

Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland believe good quality relationships are vital for wellbeing, growth and health; especially when a child has experienced adversity or trauma. Education staff have the power to create and foster a culture of warmth, nurture, kindness and positive relationships within their environments.

‘It’s All About Relationships: Embedding relational, trauma sensitive approaches in education settings’ originated when Barnardo’s Scotland staff working in schools notice that those working in Education were becoming more aware of the impact of childhood adversity and trauma through training and awareness raising, but many were looking for practical advice about how to bring this to life in their everyday practice.

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: 

“Relationships are key to creating safe, nurturing environments which help support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We are all dealing with the immediate impact of COVID-19 and we must focus on emotional support to enable our children to cope with the present challenges and build their resilience for the future.

“So, although this film was developed before the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now more relevant than ever. This crisis is impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of our entire population; we are seeing high levels of individual and community trauma. It is imperative that when children return to school we prioritise their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

“There has been fantastic work going on in schools across Scotland prior to the pandemic to place relationships at the heart of children’s educational experiences. When children and young people return to school this will be even more vital.  We hope this film will support and encourage good practice and help all those working in Education to think about how strong, positive relationships can support good mental health in our children and young people.”

The film was shown for the first time during an online Webinar on 20 May with a panel of guest speakers including trainer and author Lisa Cherry. The film is now available to view online on Barnardo’s You Tube Channel and at www.healthscotland.scot/nurturingrelationships

Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland would encourage schools and all education staff involved with children and young people to watch and use the new resource as part of training and Continual Professional Development.

Key concepts within the film such as building strong relationships; creating a safe environment and a positive culture; and supporting staff health and wellbeing will be absolutely crucial to ensure children and young people have a positive transition back into Education settings when schools begin to re-open after the Covid-19 lockdown.