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Award recognition is platform for Banff Academy to continue mental health support


By Kyle Ritchie

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Banff Academy will continue its work to support the mental health and wellbeing of its pupils and staff after winning a national award for its efforts.

The school was presented with the prestigious Wellbeing Award for Schools (WAS) after an extensive and thorough accreditation process by Optimus Education.

It involved the submission of an evidence portfolio demonstrating its collective commitment to mental health and wellbeing as a key driver central to the work of its learning community; several focus groups involving pupils, parents, staff and the wider community; along with a final extensive staff presentation.

Head teacher Alan Horberry will use the award win as a platform to continue the academy's work.

He said: “I am extremely proud that Banff Academy has been recognised nationally for our outstanding efforts in promoting and improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes of all members in our school learning community, especially in these unprecedented times.

Banff Academy head teacher Alan Horberry.
Banff Academy head teacher Alan Horberry.

"Learning and wellbeing are fundamentally connected. The school did not undertake this accreditation process simply because we wanted the kudos of national recognition, but rather because we believed the impact of this award would enable Banff Academy to further validate that relationships and wellbeing are the keystone of our school vision and practice.”

A "change" group was formed within the school from a broad spectrum of departments and stakeholders to achieve the accreditation, which further developed leadership at all levels across the academy.

After more than a year of work from the school, it achieved the goal earlier this month.

During that time it had to contend with the challenges that two separate lockdowns presented, but it managed to overcome these challenges and showcase its commitment to mental health and wellbeing.

The award has allowed the school to consider what it does well and has enabled it to reflect on what can be improved upon further still.

Mr Horberry added: “Our school community is ever changing, and we must not rest on our laurels.

"A connected school community is what we must always strive for and at Banff Academy we are resolute in our commitment to nurturing and fostering the relationships required to maintain a positive and successful environment for all members of our learning community.”

The WAS assessor commended seven areas of exemplary practice which greatly contributed to the school achieving the national accreditation.

These included authentic and agile approaches to wellbeing; the school’s RESTORE initiative; and support hub.

The relentless focus on building resilient and sustainable community partnerships was also recognised; as well as the successful implementation of "Squad", in which the pastoral side of school has been promoted.

Chairwoman of the parent council Michelle Walker commended the school on gaining the award.

She said: “We are delighted that Banff Academy continues to demonstrate its dedication and commitment to promote mental health and wellbeing as an integral part of school life.

"The high level of provision and interventions ensure that the needs of all pupils and staff are not only met, but nurtured.”

Related story: Banff Academy recognised for work to support mental health and wellbeing


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