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  • Willows Primary School, Victoria Road, Timperley
  • Altrincham, Cheshire, WA15 6PP

  • T | 0161 980 7685
  • E |

  • Headteacher: Mrs Kirsten S Warren BEd Hons MA

The Nest - Social, Emotional and Mental Health

The Nest is a room specifically equipped to provide a space where we can support the emotional and mental health needs of our children.


The children can talk confidentially and be supported to explore and understand their feelings and emotions.  Here, we can help begin to equip our children with the skills to manage their emotions and mental health throughout their life.  In The Nest, we can provide the time and space for pupils to think about their personal circumstances and how they manage them.  Our work in the room is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our children.


One of the ways children can express themselves emotionally is through play and we are so very grateful for the wonderful contributions our families have made to fund and equip this.  We can now run Lego therapy sessions and groups for anxiety, self-esteem, anger management, regulating emotions, promoting positive friendships, 1:1 Talking and Drawing and much more! 


If you have any concerns about your child's social, emotional or mental health, please do not hesitate to contact me or speak to your child's class teacher.


Mrs. T. Hirst

Mental Health Lead and ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)

(Working days Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

Our Aims and Principles for Mental Health


At Willows, we recognise that good mental health is as important as good physical health. Our pupils are taught self-care techniques, including recognising and managing emotions, exercise, relaxation and how to build relationships through a rich and varied curriculum. We teach our children how they can help others with their mental health in age-appropriate ways.


We use the DfE's guidance, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, as a guide and work to the their ideals:

  1. Prevention: creating a safe and calm environment where mental health problems are less likely, improving the mental health and well-being of the whole school population, and equipping pupils to be resilient so that they can manage the normal stress of life effectively. This will include teaching pupils about mental well-being through the curriculum and reinforcing this teaching through school activities and ethos.
  2. Identification: recognising emerging issues as early and accurately as possible. 
  3. Early support: helping pupils to access evidence based early support and interventions.
  4. Access to specialist support: working effectively with external agencies to provide swift access or referrals to specialist support and treatment.


Our Provision at Willows


Whole School Provision - The foundation for our mental health offer is our Whole School Provision. Learning about mental health is part of our Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) curriculum for all children. This teaching and learning for all is part of the Prevention phase of mental health. Children receive one hour of dedicated PSHE teaching each week. Beyond lesson time, our school culture embeds good mental health. For example, Henry’s Garden is an area of nature and reflection, pupils have access to this area at playtimes.   We have dedicated Feel Good Fridays once a term when we promote and celebrate good social, emotional and mental health for all through The Children’s Health Project.  Across the school, you will see staff leading pupils through the Zones of Regulation. When pupils' emotions are causing them distress, we use this so that our children can learn to self-regulate whenever they need to.  Y5 Wellness Ambassadors are on duty at lunchtime in the playground to listen to any child’s troubles and support them to use a strategy to self-regulate. 

Low Level Needs - This is the Identification phase. Our staff are constantly monitoring pupils so they can identify when they may need extra support.  Parents can speak to their child’s class teacher, Mrs Warren or Mrs Hirst if they have any concerns about their child’s mental health.  A worry box is located in the library where children can write any worries that they would like to share with a member

of staff.  We use Leuven's scale and  ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) questionnaires to help us identify what types of support we could offer. Miss Pickering runs a gardening club where the children benefit enormously from being outdoors and seeing growth in the garden. On Tuesday’s Lunch Club is open in The Nest where children can enjoy quieter and calmer activities such as colouring, Lego, board games and reading. Mrs Hirst is on duty for children to talk to. 

Medium Level need - Individualised Support for our pupils who may be experiencing mental health and well-being difficulties. After identifying and talking to parents, providing some support for the pupil is the next step. This is the Early Help phase. Getting support in a timely fashion can stop a mental health issue from developing further. There are lots of ways we can support children in school, which can range from a simple chat, organising a playtime buddy or a daily check-in to see how they are feeling, to a series of individual or group sessions with a trained staff member using recognised support programmes and interventions such as Drawing and Talking.  Mrs Hirst and Miss Peek (EYFS ELSA) are trained ELSAs - Emotional Literacy Support Assistants - meaning they can develop and deliver individualised support programmes to meet the emotional needs of children.   Our new sensory room is available to use (with an adult) to provide students with the individualised sensory input they need to self-regulate, so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.

High Level Need - Signposting to External Support - occasionally, some children may benefit from expert mental health professionals. We can help families to access this support. We will work with these agencies to provide support in school as best we can.  


Capturing the Children's Voice 

It's important to us that our children get a say in our mental health and well-being offer. We have school councillors who meet with Mrs Hirst regularly to express the views of their classes. In addition, our biannual Pupil Wellbeing survey gives all children an opportunity to tell staff how they are feeling.


Working with Parents

Parents are always included in any concerns we have about a pupils’ health. We ensure that parents have a voice and recognise their contribution.  We endeavour to support parents who are concerned about their children’s mental health by being in regular contact and facilitating links to external agencies. 


The Environment

  • Classrooms – our learning environments are set up to be safe places for pupils to learn. We use simple displays so they are not over-stimulating. Classrooms have timetables, rules and procedures displayed so that pupils can feel secure in the expectations within the room.
  • Outdoors – we’ve created places to nurture mental health in our extensive grounds. Our allotment beds, willow arch, Henry’s Garden and wide green open spaces are available for the children to use.
  • The Nest – a safe space that has been created for individual or small group social, emotional and mental health interventions with Mrs Hirst.



What Can I Do If I Am Worried About My Child’s Mental Health?


TALK TO US - if you are worried your child may be experiencing mental health issues, please talk to your child's class teacher, Mrs Hirst (Mental Health Lead & ELSA), or Mrs Warren (Headteacher and acting SENDCo).   We can make adjustments e.g. Tuesday Lunch Club, supporting friendships, borrowing resources to use at home.


ELSA – for more persistent concerns Mrs Hirst and Miss Peek (EYFS ELSA) can help with bespoke programmes, emotional literacy and Drawing and Talking.


EXTERNAL SUPPORT – school referral to Trafford Sunrise/Just Psychology.



Though our staff are trained to offer support at school level, we cannot act as mental health experts and we do not try to diagnose conditions. We have clear systems and processes in place for identifying possible mental health concerns, including routes to escalate concerns and clear referral and accountability systems. We endeavour to create a safe and calm educational environment and strengthen resilience before serious mental health problems occur.



Where Can I Get More Help?

South School Nursing Team,

Trafford Local Care Organisation,

2nd Floor Altrincham Health & WellBeing Centre

31-33 Market Street



WA14 1PF 



National Help and Advice


Children’s Mental Health

YoungMinds for Parents – provides advice about mental health and behaviour problems in children and young people. You can call the parents' helpline on 0808 802 5544

Anna Freud

Place2be Improving children’s mental health

Beat (Eating Disorders any age)



Child Bereavement

Child Bereavement UK

Winston’s Wish



Barnardo’s LGBTQ+, Mental health, supporting families


Child Parent Violence