School in Ipswich teaches pupils the power of kindness
It is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn in life - and now an Ipswich school has spent a week teaching not just the normal classroom subjects but, quite simply, how to be kind.
Copleston High School has long taught its 1,800 pupils the value of being nice to one another, with kindness being one of the secondary and sixth form’s core values.
But when the coronavirus crisis struck, forcing the Gippeswyk Community Educational Trust school to close to all but the children of key workers, teachers found showing goodwill to others took on a whole new meaning.
So with Mental Health Awareness Week taking place in May, it has built a five-day programme to emphasise why simple acts such as saying “thank you” or asking “how are you?” can make the world of difference.
It may sound simple, but leaders at Copleston say it has had a “huge impact” - and is making the school an even kinder place than it was before.
David Leach, head of sixth form, said: “Covid-19 has put a huge strain on the mental health and wellbeing of students and adults.
“School is such a vitally important part of a young person’s life. It’s where their social group is and where they feel safe.
“Kindness is in our core values and has always been important to us, but this situation has really emphasised that.”
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The school has continually sent resources home to parents and pupils throughout the lockdown about how to keep mentally well during the crisis.
Copleston’s wellbeing coordinator, Kelley Osman, has written to all students, giving advice based on the nationally-renowned Five Ways to Wellbeing.
The school’s Mental Health Awareness Week activities have also been based around those five points, with students sent a sheet each day with tips on how to connect, give to others, practise mindfulness, be active and learn.
“They’re really valuable lessons to learn,” said Mr Leach.
“Kindness itself just has such a huge impact. It brings hope and it can make a dark time a little bit more bearable.
“It doesn’t have to be big things. It can be little things on a constant basis that can make such a difference to people.”
The response from students has been overwhelming, with acts of kindness including making birthday hampers for friends and producing rainbow decorations for neighbours.
Pupil Harry Maddison has even learned sign language, so he can communicate with those hard of hearing.
“The amount of students even asking how I am and how my family is has been amazing,” Mr Leach said.
However, he stressed: “It is not just about being kind to other people, but being kind to yourself - whether that’s switching off your mobile phone in the evening or getting some fresh air.”
Tracy Pilkington, head of learning support at Copleston, added: “We know so many young people are missing school. We are doing whatever we can to help the students and their families.”
■ Have you come across any notable acts of kindness during the coronavirus crisis? Email email@example.com with details and we may include them in our next coronavirus community heroes round-up.
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