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Christ College, Brecon opens a ‘break out’ space to enhance mental wellbeing of pupils
23rd February 2018

Independent co-education boarding and day school Christ College, Brecon, has introduced a ‘break out’ space to enhance the mental wellbeing of its pupils who want to enjoy time alone.

Pupils’ wellbeing is a key part of pastoral care at the Christ College, and House Parent Suzy Phelps is studying for a Master’s degree in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the University of South Wales, which is part-funded by the school.

Suzy came up with the idea of opening the ‘break out’ room after she attended a Pastoral Conference in Devon discussing young people’s mental health within boarding schools.

Keynote speaker psychologist Dr Lina Blair recommended ways to promote good mental health.

Two main recommendations were the removal of phone devices before bed, which Christ College is currently undertaking; and the introduction of a ‘break out’ space for pupils to be alone.

Suzy said: “I raised the issue with my senior boarders when I returned. They said that the biggest problem they had was not being able to ‘escape’ from their friends and be left alone for a few minutes.

“My head of house, Katie de Winton, was very excited to begin this project.  She and a team of helpers chose the colours and curtains, prepared and repainted the walls, and helped decorate the room.”

Following the advice given by Dr Blair, who also pointed out the importance of smell in our wellbeing, the team included a diffuser in the room, as well as a variety of textures designed to give tactile sensory stimulation to pupils on the Autism Spectrum.

The school’s new ‘break out’ space gives pupils the opportunity to be alone with their thoughts; listen to music without interruption; have private phone conversations or skype calls.

Suzy said: “Pupils, at Christ College are becoming a lot more aware of mental health and understand the importance of the need for alone time.”

Earlier this year, the school scored ‘Excellent’ in all categories on its latest Estyn Report, including ‘Care, support and guidance’, indicating strong and sustained performance and practice.

The reported stated: “The care, support and guidance provided by the school are exceptional. Provision is inclusive, fully embedded across all areas of the school, and contributes successfully to particularly high levels of wellbeing among pupils.”