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January / February 2023 Blog

As January and February are traditionally quite a ‘blue’ time of year I thought the January/February blog would be a great opportunity to share with our community the progress we have made this academic year so far on our mental health programme.

Four years ago we introduced GO WEST as our resilience programme focussed on the simple strategy of Walking; Eating; Sleeping; Talking - promoted by the highly acclaimed sports psychologist Michael Corfield. Go WEST became the backbone of our resilience and mental health strategy during the pandemic and as we came out. However, by the end of last academic year, I recognised that we needed to do more within this strategy as highlighted by student feedback through the Hampshire Healthy Schools Project.

As a result, I appointed Miss Bishop to the role of Senior Mental Health Lead within the College from September 2022. We also created a mental health support team, using the growing expertise we have within the College of Tracey McCaw (Vulnerable Student Support manager + Designated safeguarding Lead); Miss Cromey (Counsellor); Miss Fisher (ELSA) and Mrs Wishart (Emotionally based school avoidance support worker). This team is based in Goodwood block and has very close links to our SEN team and the Resilience Room which is also based in Goodwood Block.

Since September, with this new team in place, we have moved apace with the support that we are now able to offer to students and also signpost them to.

The objectives on our 22/23 Mental Health Action Plan have been as follows:

  1. To foster a whole College culture of promoting positive conversations about mental health.
  2. To develop the use of a common language to address mental health issues and tackle stigma.
  3. To increase and improve students’ awareness and experiences of mental health information, support, and services.
  4. To highlight where support is available to the whole College community including students, parents/carers, and staff.

Miss Bishop decided to start the process towards achieving these objectives with the redesign and streamlining of the ‘Keeping you safe at Crookhorn’ and ‘LGBTQ+’ pages on the itslearning platform. Miss Bishop then launched a new ‘Promoting Positive Mental Health’ page, working with students the whole way through to ensure that the layout and the amount of information available was suitable and accessible to all members of the College community.

Miss Bishop then worked with the House Welfare Prefects to deliver the SMART start mental health introduction for Year 7 in September focussing on the support available within the College; the reporting process for any concerns including the ‘I need support’ button and the promotion of the ‘Keeping You Safe‘ page. This was followed up with our Welfare Prefects visiting all tutor groups in their House to introduce themselves and check in with all Year 7 students individually throughout the first half-term.

For the benefit of all students Go West and mental health assemblies have been taken by Miss Bishop throughout the first term, promoting the power of student voice and how to use the resources available on itslearning and the support available from within the Crookhorn mental health support team. The message delivered in these assemblies has been followed up by Children & Young People’s Team (CYPT) at Havant and East Hants MIND who have come in and delivered further information on understanding mental health, practising strategies and also the promotion of local external support.

In tutor time, we have run a ‘reporting issues’ scenario, through the House discussion boards on itslearning. The tutor has collated responses from tutor group members and posted these in the discussion board, enabling us to gather whole College feedback on strategies that students feel would work for those who feel vulnerable in certain situations. This exercise generated excellent empathetic conversations amongst students from all years. Our second scenario discussion was run during Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) 2023 when ‘Let’s Connect’ was the theme.

In October we took part as a whole college in My Journey - Hampshire’s Walktober Challenge and one of our fabulous Year 7 students, Nicole .H won 3rd prize!!! Also in October, World Mental Health Day was celebrated in the College through the tutor programme for that week with a focus on the specific links between mental health and the College initiative of GO WEST. Students were encouraged to practise mindfulness techniques as well as coping strategies and were reminded of the wealth of resources and support available through the ‘Keeping you safe at Crookhorn’ page and the ‘Promoting Positive Mental Health’ page on ‘itslearning’.

Just before CMHW, we had the Time to Talk day on the 2nd of February where through the tutor programme students were given the opportunity to discuss what they can do, and what they would like to see in place to help ensure that all members of the College community feel able to talk openly about mental health.

The aim of all these public discussions and talks about mental health has been to seek that common language which can be used to talk through issues that concern us all and to promote that talking about mental health is positive and relevant to all.

On a more individual level of support the Tuesday LGBTQ+ drop ins available for all students have been re-established with Dawn Tracey who works for Youth Options.  Miss Cromey has put in place breaktime drop ins for Year 11 who wish for extra support in their exam year.

Go WEST has become a permanent fixture in the Year 11 fortnightly tutor mentoring sessions and all Year 10’s are taking part in a five-week Yoga taster programme during PSHE. Two groups have completed this so far with another 4 to go before the end of this academic year.

In November, we were able to signpost parents to sessions run by the parents and carers network group through CAMHS and the local external Mental Health Support Team delivered an excellent workshop in January for twenty of our families who are dealing with high levels of childhood stress and anxiety within their homes. Also in January the Stop Domestic Abuse Service started to deliver some group work sessions to specific students on healthy and unhealthy relationships. Miss Cromey has also increased her hours to work full time for the College and as such is able to take on outreach support sessions where she can visit students who are in their homes to work with them on re-engaging with their education, friends and sometimes families as well.

Coming up in March and April we are using the external mental health support team again to deliver 2 exam stress workshops, the second of which is during the Easter holidays, when students might be feeling a little isolated and therefore grateful of the opportunity to come into College to talk things through and get some support.

To enable us to keep growing the support we have in place for students and to understand the most effective and positive ways to disseminate this support, our Crookhorn MHST are busy engaging with training at all levels. Miss Bishop is regularly attending the MHST online forums which are aimed at networking and sharing good practice and has now completed her training as Senior Mental Health Lead, whilst 3 other members are booked onto conferences and training sessions around ‘breaking the cycle of trauma’ and ‘creative approaches to listening’ as well as the CAMHS Professionals conference and a new resilience and wellbeing conference being hosted at Seaford College.

I am also delighted that through all of this work around Go WEST, our new extra-curricular Co-ordinator Mr Baker has had fantastic success growing our extra-curricular programme, which pays massive dividends in supporting children’s mental health. Since September our extra-curricular clubs have grown to a total number of 11 different sports clubs and 9 different curricular clubs ranging from music club, to history club; science club to chess club; and Dungeons & Dragons. In Autumn term 2 and Spring term 1 we have had 2956 attendances across the years to the sports clubs and 1708 attendances to curricular clubs during the same period of time. It is fantastic to see so many children wanting to re-engage in positive activities that really stimulates their social and emotional development.

I sincerely hope it comes as great reassurance to parents that we take the emotional and mental as well as physical wellbeing of our students so seriously, and we aim as a community to be mutually supportive and respectful towards each other as kindness is a huge part of feeling better and helping others to feel better too.


It is my firm belief that, if they feel happy and confident in themselves, the students will reach out and make the most of the opportunities presented to them whilst they are here.  When they do this we achieve outcomes like the reviews you see written below from a recent English enrichment trip to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Reviews

ID - Year 7

Out of all the times I have been to the theatre before, this has honestly been one of the best experiences.

From the detail in the costumes and sets to every character, there is so much to take in and enjoy. Something that I find absolutely incredible is that even though they only had that one podium, they were able to do so much – like how they used the suitcases to make the train carriages or the amount of times they used the staircases instead of making so many set pieces. They were able to bring the set to life in so many different ways, for example with the use of lighting focusing on certain parts of the stage or certain characters. I also really liked that there were a few changes from the old script and the dance on Voldemort Day and the wand dance were very good additions.

Moaning Myrtle was one of my favourite characters because the spinning – sort of – seat she used was incredible, and the actor really reminded me of her.

Overall, I loved doing the seminars because it made us look a little bit closer at how the show was created and how much work was put into it behind the scenes (literally), while we were watching it. I also enjoyed discussing the technical parts of the show and working with other year groups.

RL - Year 7

The special effects and the movements of the charters were already amazing but to add to that there was the breathtaking stage transitions accompanied by the character changes in the parts where Albus, Scorpius, Delphi and Harry’s transformations.

None of it compared to the fantastic acting, movements of the dementors and the telephone box all completely left the audience laughing and smiling

The dances the music the expression in the voices of everyone were AMAZING and this play is the Greatest Of All Time!

LS - Year 7

You are certainly right ID. I am the same. I have loved the experience. It is the first time I have been to a theatre and I have enjoyed it so much. I loved the Voldemort day dance and the wand dance. The contrast between the two is amazing. I just love how one is very upbeat and full of joy and laughter and the other very despicable and dark. I found the use of the staircases were very useful especially with all the effects and the other members of Hogwarts pushing them. I loved how they had the illusion of bane the centaur. I was great how they had the guy at the front in the light and another in the dark so that all the audience watching could only see the centaur body.

My favourite character was definitely between Delphini Diggory and Ginny Potter because Ginny is so heartfelt and caring towards everyone and always sees the best in people. She really does live in the moment. And then we have Delphini on the other hand who is super caring at first and all she wants to do is get her 'uncle' back but when you find out that she is actually Bellatrix Lestrange's daughter and her father is Voldemort. It was a slight shock, but I had read the book, so I saw it coming.

I have really enjoyed learning a bit more about Harry Potter and am supper grateful for this experience and I am looking forward to what the future hold, but I don't have a time turner and not sure if they go to the future or if they stay in the past but hay-ho. For the time being I guess I will just have to live in the moment.

AH  - Year 8

The set and stage design was created smartly, and the show couldn't have been as good if the design was weaker. One of my favourite parts were the arched side pieces that looked like bookshelves and had clock pieces on, which appeared like it shook and moved as they moved in time.

Another one of my favourite parts was the writing on the walls, this was very realistic and appeared very magical. As well as the actors clothes which were very suited for each of them and the scene that they were doing!

The seminars were also very helpful, and the magician was very nice, and I still remember them and my parents don't know how I did it, so successful!

II - Year 8

Honestly the show was one of the most amazing pieces of theatre I have seen for a long time, one of my favourite things was definitely the magic behind it, like watching all the illusions and the way people vanished and appeared. It made the play feel like the magic was real which was great, one of my favourite bits being when the dementor came flying into the audience as it felt really spooky and real. My favourite actor was definitely the one that played Scorpius as he was really funny and I think that he played the character really well.

CMcM - Year 8

The illusions which were already stunningly well done were enhanced by props that immersed you spectacularly into the different areas the play was set in. As well as this, the lake scenes were awesome because a trapdoor opened while you were focused on the people on stage and the characters seamlessly climbed in/out and the trapdoor seamlessly closed behind them. Overall a stunning performance with stunning actors. 10/10

ED - Year 9

The whole show was incredible and it showed off the talent and work it takes to put into shows. The props were designed to be on wheels to make set changes easy and the use of using items in ways we wouldn’t think of gives a new perspective for me. For example, the way that the suitcases turned into the top of the train or that the door was moveable and was used to make the stage smaller at times. The use of spotlights to only light up one part of the stage was very clever as it gave the actors chance to disappear and someone else to appear through the use of the blacked-out part of the stage. One thing I haven’t managed to work out is how the telephone box worked and how then disappeared. The costume design really showed off the characters personalities and the use of capes on the death-eaters made them look more menacing and at times they looked shaped as bat wings which often have negative connotations. The whole show was just so immersive and the way everything was executed and put together was just awesome. I can’t leave out the dementors! They were incredible and really caught the true atmosphere that the dementors portray. It was awesome!!

TB - Year 9

When I went to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed child I knew that it would be good with cool illusions and good acting and story line, but I was not ready for how amazing it was. Even just the way they used their props to create different settings and to disguise when they were actually doing. Also the way they used there capes to convey a smooth transition was very cool and subtle. I was very impressed with how they used the trap doors to their advantage. We can’t forget about how they used the stairs so wonderfully and how surprising it was to see the writing on the walls. The overall story line was amazing and combined with the incredible magic as well as fire coming out the wands and the lighting to add a sense of realness to the spells was just incredible! Lastly we can’t forget about the jaw dropping scenes with the dementors, from there costume design to them lifting people up and flying around they theatre really helped  the ominous mood for Voldemort day! Overall just something that I have never seen before and was really impressed by and if given the opportunity would 100% go back to.

L H-L - Year 9

The set and stage design was created smartly, and the show couldn't have been as good if the design was weaker. One of my favourite parts were the arched side pieces that looked like bookshelves and had clock pieces on, which appeared like it shook and moved as they moved in time.

Another one of my favourite parts was the writing on the walls, this was very realistic and appeared very magical. As well as the actors’ clothes which were very suited for each of them and the scene that they were doing!

The seminars were also very helpful, and the magician was very nice, and I still remember them and my parents don't know how I did it, so successful!

K o’R  - Year 9

Everything about the show was truly unreal but what stuck out to me was the stage and costume design, and also how they made use of the props they had, (such as the stair cases). It was obvious that these key factors had a lot of time and effort put into making this so amazing. I really enjoyed the spinning stage and I believe it impacted the show massively. It was used in so many acts and for example, when the spinning stage was used during the Voldemort day dance, it was really useful and did set the scene. It allowed us to see all the characters on stage and the movement.

One of my favourite parts about the show was the writing on the walls, I liked it as it was so magical and it was such a great way to leave us on a cliffhanger. This show was by far my favourite and I don't have any negative points towards it.

AR - Year 9

What an amazing trip and story! The special effects of the curses and the choreography and everything was just so amazing and overwhelming! The dementors floating around over the audience, Voldemort walking out into the stalls and the immersive feel of the atmosphere was beautiful. Really and truly an amazing piece of theatre.

ED - Year 10

I don’t think that any other performance will compare. The detail and effort put into designing the set, the changes to the stage when props were brought on, it all flowed together brilliantly. When the ultraviolet lights were used, the amount of detail put into decorating was phenomenal. I can see that lots of effort was put into this production and the actors and stage crew must be immensely proud. In addition, the way the props were made, such and the dementors, and a the special effects and illusions made the performance seem as if it was happening for real! I think my favourite part was the ultraviolet lights because you could see how much effort people put into it. With all the sound effects and music, it was very noticeable when the atmosphere changed. For example, when the hand shot out of the grave, people were expecting something because of the atmosphere and tension created, but they weren’t ready for the shock. The costumes also added to the atmosphere because they were constantly changing to adapt to the part of the story the performance was at.

MH - Year 10

I loved it! Completely and utterly. The actors/actresses played their parts so well. They all managed to show the characters from the books in the small details. I think the storyline was incredible and I loved the music behind some of the scenes.

The whole set with the Forbidden Forest and the moving side pieces was amazing - the dementors too! I would definitely go again.

JJ - Year 10

Firstly I just want to say a big thank you to all the staff for taking us, it was probably the best play I’ve seen.

Now I think that the production quality was stunning. From the dementors and the moving stairs, to the writing on the walls. Everything really immersed you into the story and the world!

However, the story does have a few plot holes. I thought all the time turners were destroyed but then all of a sudden there are two? Not to mention how Delphi was able to express emotion, whereas her father couldn't because of his conception under a love potion.

But on the whole, I loved every part of it and I wish I could see it again :)

GG - Year 11

I think that out of all the theatre trips I've been on this has got to be one of, if not the best I’ve been able to experience. The dances had to be my favourite part, I loved watching the performers and how clean they were with their movements. I especially loved the Voldemort Day dance because of how swiftly they travelled across the stage and how well the choreography complimented the music. The seminars were great too, I enjoyed learning some magic tricks with the magician. I've loved coming on these trips and I think Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a great performance to end them on.

CS - Year 11

It was amazing.

the way they set each prop up with such precision and elegance. They always made sure to put it in the correct place and the transitions we're constantly clean and smooth. The dementors floated with ease and they were made with incredible detail and looked very realistic. The actors made the script better than just reading it. Each line was said with meaning and heart which cause it to be understood. The characters were all brought to life so well that watching each actor looked like they were actually the characters, not just someone playing them. They brought the script to life and in deep detail.

I would definitely go again.

TW - Year 11

The design elements of the performance were great. I especially liked and enjoyed the designer’s clever use of props and staging to replicate a setting without having to go over budget on fancy scenery. They used objects like suitcases to mimic things like the Hogwarts express seats and graves which, when combined with good acting, did not feel cheap or synthetic in any way. As an audience, we didn’t care that they didn’t actually create an entire set with fancy props etc, as we enjoyed the performance and used our imagination to fill in the rest of the picture. Furthermore, when changing these set pieces, the crew flashed their capes or used a choreographed story to fill in the pieces between scenes and keep viewers engaged and interested.

Another design element that was great was the costumes. Not only did they look great, the capes and robes flowed and added an extra dimension to the character’s movement and dancing which made the visual component of the performance very satisfying. Special effects such as the dementors, spells and magic tricks left the audience wondering how they did it, which brought us even more into the magical world. Of these effects, I enjoyed most the ripple when they travelled through time as it distorted the entire set and I definitely heard a few wows and gasps the first time it happened.

As for the acting, I thoroughly enjoyed every character in the play. I think a great aspect of it was the sprinkling of comic relief throughout, the comedic timing and set up for the jokes were great (especially from Ron). I think each character was fully formed, and they all managed to really immerse us all in the experience. The music in the play was good, too. I think the choices for the music were well thought out and a lot of the times it reflected the mood of the scene. For example, the Voldemort day dance’s music that we talked about in the seminar really did create a menacing atmosphere.

The course as a whole was a very enriching experience. Each of the pre-visit seminars were equally as fun as educational and seeing the performance was definitely worth staying after school for seminars and going on that very long coach ride. Any Future Creatives would 100% benefit from this trip! :)