HRH Duchess of Cambridge was greeted by hundreds of cheering children when she visited Pegasus Primary School in Blackbird Leys, Oxford on Tuesday 6 March. Her visit, which was to look at the work of the school in providing emotional support programmes for children and parents, was part of her continuing interest in emotional well-being and mental health support services.
The Duchess was greeted by the Head Teacher, Francis Murphy, and Sarah Darton, CEO of Family Links, a national charity based in Oxford, which works with the school to provide emotional well-being training for teachers, parents and children. This enables them to cope with anxiety and stress, develop positive strategies for coping with life’s problems and succeed at school and at work.
Family Links has worked with Pegasus Primary School for more than 15 years building its emotional well-being training into school life including providing training for all teachers and support staff at the school. It is the only school in Britain which currently integrates this approach throughout the whole school.
TV News London works with Family Links helping with their PR and media training and Roz Morris, TV News London’s Managing Director, was at Pegasus Primary School working with Family Links to ensure the media were able to cover the story effectively.
“We achieved significant coverage both on the day of the Duchess’s visit and on the next day” Roz says. “The story was covered by many news organisations including The Mail, The Mirror, The Evening Standard, the Huffington Post, the Press Association, The Oxford Mail, the Oxford Guardian, ITV Meridian, BBC South and Sky News”
The Duchess, who was 8 months pregnant with her third child, met parents and children who told her about their positive experiences through Family Links training at the school.
Donna Lennon-Sinclair, a parent who has taken part in a 10-week parenting programme at the school, said she had found the training really helpful. “They should offer this to everyone’ she said. “This has made a real difference to my life.”
Jodie Brackett,11, in Year 6, told the Duchess he was able to trust his teachers to help him when he talked about any emotional problems. He was keen to tell his grandmother he had met the Duchess as “she is really into the royal family’ and would be really pleased to hear about the Duchess talking to him..
Zhara Gathenya, 10, also in Year 6, said the Duchess was an open person who was really easy to talk to. She said the school was able to help her to talk about her feelings and this was really important.
‘Just as we nurture our physical health, we should also nurture our emotional health’ Sarah Darton CEO of Family Links told the Duchess. “We are currently running parent groups across the UK and we believe every school could benefit from this consistent way of improving children’s emotional health” she added.
“Children who are emotionally healthy are able to develop good relationships and succeed at work and in life. Our programme helps both children and parents to develop emotional resilience and enjoy family life.”
‘I believe good emotional health is essential for academic success and our work with Family Links has been one of the key factors in our success’ says Francis Murphy, Head Teacher of Pegasus Primary. ‘We have some children here with complex needs and the Family Links Nurturing Programme provides them with the language to describe their feelings. It provides them with a forum to share and understand their experiences.’
All children throughout the school have a Circle Time session of 45 minutes every week where they can be helped to understand their feeling and experiences by discussing them with other children and teachers.
During her visit the Duchess also had meetings with Rowen Smith, Head of Training Family Links, Georgia Maddocks, Deputy Head Teacher, Pegasus Primary School, Rachel Walding, Family and Outdoor Learning Leader, Pegasus Primary School, Anna Thorne, CEO, OXPIP, Aida Cable, Head of Young People’s Programmes, the Royal Foundation, and Dr Sally Smith, CEO, Peeple.