04 Feb 2022

A St Helens school that has excelled in putting children’s social and emotional learning at the heart of all it does, has been awarded Model School status.

Holy Spirit Catholic Primary is the first school in St Helens to achieve the accolade, which has been earned over the past four years as the school has successfully integrated the PATHS® Programme for Schools (UK Version) within everyday school life, supporting children from a young age in how to understand and manage their feelings, navigate difficult situations and prioritise their wellbeing.


The award also recognises the continued efforts of the school to focus on children’s wellbeing throughout the recent lockdowns. 


Delivery of the PATHS® Programme is supported by specialist coaches from Barnardo’s. Planned activities with pupils are designed to help children’s development in learning to regulate their emotions, boost self-esteem, increase their emotional awareness and teach them problem-solving skills, including within relationships and friendships, improving the mental health of primary school pupils.


The programme is currently running in 13 primary schools across St Helens, with Holy Spirit being the first to achieve Model School status.  


Staff and a selection of pupils from Holy Spirit were presented with their award by a Programme Co-ordinator from Barnardo’s, who has been working closely with staff over the past four years to support them in embedding the programme into everyday learning. Also in attendance was Cllr Sue Murphy (St Helens Mayor), Cllr Bisi Osundeko and Cllr Andy Bowden.


Elaine Britton, Team Manager at Barnardo’s said: “We are delighted to commend the efforts of the whole school at Holy Spirit in achieving the SEL Worldwide® Model School Status. The management team and staff have shown such commitment to prioritising children’s emotional and social learning within their classrooms each and every day, and they are really seeing the results from doing this. 


“This programme is all about early intervention and prevention, supporting children at the earliest point to stop more serious problems arising. Some of the benefits seen for children at Holy Spirit include increased concentration in class and improved behaviour, with children better able to regulate their emotions. All of this contributes to a more positive learning environment for children, as well as benefitting school staff and parents.” 


Mrs Michelle Ravey, Headteacher at Holy Spirit Catholic Primary said: “We are very proud to receive this prestigious award, becoming the first model school for this programme in St Helens. This award has been possible through the amazing commitment of our teachers who deliver the lessons so brilliantly, ably supported by our talented coaches. Social and emotional learning permeates all areas of school life making Holy Spirit a happy place to be, where children are at the beating heart of all we do.  


“Above all, the children have truly earned this award through using strategies taught to understand how to deal with emotions effectively and resolve conflict through learning to love and respect themselves and one another.”


Mark Palethorpe, Accountable Officer at NHS St Helens CCG said: “This is a real accolade for the school and a result of all their hard work supporting their pupils. We hope other schools will work to achieving this status in the future. Thanks to all our staff who have worked tremendously hard with schools to roll out the PATHS® Programme in the borough, which I am sure will make a difference to the lives of our children and young people.”


Cllr Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Business and Skills at St Helens Borough Council said: “At a time when the pressures of the pandemic and lockdown have had a significant impact on pupils in our schools it is so good to see an initiative that is directly focused on supporting the mental wellbeing of children when many things in the learning environment will have been unfamiliar and sometimes very challenging for them. I know many other schools are interested in the programme, having heard about the positive impact at Holy Spirit."