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News10th October 2023

Mental health partnership with Place2Be

Ark has taken a comprehensive approach to mental health and wellbeing in collaboration with Place2Be. The network-wide partnership is the first of its kind for a large multi-academy trust.

A dedicated Place2Be Account Manager will work closely with Ark’s Director of Pastoral and Inclusion and Senior Mental Health Leads across all 39 schools. Staff will come together on a termly basis to receive training from Place2Be, share best practices, and form a collective network as agents of change within our schools.

Although in-school therapeutic provision is not the sole answer to the current mental health crisis, it can be a lifeline for some of our most vulnerable young people who otherwise may have to wait more than a year for support.

Last year, more than 1,800 students received support through over 7,200 one-to-one and group sessions. Eight out of ten students say their mental health and ability to focus in the classroom has improved as a result.

We are tremendously grateful to the Eureka Charitable Trust, as well as other anonymous donors who have supported specific Ark schools in their efforts to improve mental health for young people.

Lyndsay Harris, Director of Pastoral and Inclusion at Ark, reflected on the importance of the partnership:

“The benefit of working with Place2Be is that they truly become part of the school community, helping school leaders think about their whole school ethos and pastoral provision through a mental health lens. This is important when considering the link between safety, wellbeing, belonging and educational outcomes. Through this partnership, we aim to support all schools across the network to become mentally healthy schools by reducing mental health stigma and equipping all staff and students with the knowledge, language and strategies they can use to support themselves and one another. This work would not be possible without generous support from Place2Be and our donors.”

Ark Castledown Primary in Hastings has been partnering with Place2Be for the past three years. “Our school has a high level of need, with 67% of children on Free School Meals and 93 children on the SEN register, including 11 with Education, Health and Care Plans,” said Assistant Headteacher Patricia Rowland. “We provide additional support to the most vulnerable pupils, especially during the transition from Year 6 into secondary school. We’re connected with Place2Be counsellors from Ark Alexandra to help make that process seamless.”

Place2Be CEO Catherine Roche said:

“We are delighted to be building on our close working relationship with Ark through this partnership across the trust. Place2Be’s ambition is for all children to have easy access to quality mental health support, helping them to make the most of their school years and to develop and foster skills to navigate life’s challenges, a vision shared by Ark, as part of their commitment to a whole-school approach to wellbeing. We look forward to continuing this work together to support even more young people in reaching their full potential.”