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#559 SWIM (Support With Individuals’ Mental Health) – Westbourne Academy

Maxine Abbott and Cathy Cook

What did we do?

At Westbourne, we had just created our own internal Mental Health Strategy called SWIM (Support With Individuals’ Mental Health) where we had three waves of Intervention:

  • Wave One is our universal offer including assemblies and delivery of lessons through our PSHE curriculum.
  • Wave Two is our targeted group offer and includes things such as our Nurture group and our Exams Support group as well as work from external agencies such as YMCA.
  • Wave Three is our bespoke individual support and includes 1:1 Nurture, 4YP Counselling etc.


The SWERL programme gave us a valuable opportunity to audit our existing provision against the domains. The audit enabled us to be reflective practitioners and identify our areas of strength but also highlight our areas of need. Throughout this journey, we had the support of our SWERL facilitator who offered us advice and guidance.

A 4YP School Counsellor recognised the improvements supported by SWERL saying, ‘it is extremely important to have private, comfortable space in which we can support pupils to deal with challenging situations in school’.
A Year 10 student, who is part of a small group provision and also accesses the room as a drop in, says ‘It is calming and feels more like home. You can tell someone how you feel.’ Another student in Year 8 and diagnosed with ASD describes the room as ‘spacious and having colours which are relaxing and calming. The room has a good vibe.’
A Year 9 student who attends the 4YP group says ‘The room allows you to talk more openly as it feels like a safe space. It is quiet and away from everything else. It’s different to classrooms and the atmosphere is always warm and inviting.’

Summary of impact

‘The SWIM Room’ is divided into two rooms and links with our strategy.
The ‘Blue’ room is for small group interventions and is used by external agencies such as 4YP and YMCA; the room has interchangeable desks and chairs for a variety of room set-ups and it is also manned throughout the day by the Pastoral Leads so that pupils have someone available for support at all times.
The ‘Green’ room is used for our individual interventions including the school counsellor, ASD mentoring, 1:1 meetings with our students and outside agencies and bespoke sessions delivered by the exam officer. This room has been created to represent a homely environment where pupils can feel comfortable.’

The SWERL funding supported the complete renovation of an old classroom to create the SWIM room including furniture and decoration to create a comfortable environment.

Steps Taken

We used the SWERL audit as a reflective tool and our audit showed that our major area of need was in the domain for ‘Enabling Environments’. Our Pastoral Team work in our Hub which is continuously busy and not an ideal space for a student who is upset or struggling with their mental health. Due to lack of a suitable space, staff were using corridors to speak to students who were upset. Likewise, external agencies were using meeting rooms, offices or classrooms to meet students; this arrangement was not ideal either because many students felt uncomfortable in these spaces Our research from student voice showed that students wanted access to a private, calm, comfortable and relaxing space.
We met with the Principal who gave us a classroom to use, we planned our ideas and then implemented our plan quickly and effectively.

What would you do differently?

Throughout the SWERL process, we learned that it was beneficial to reflect and adapt plans where appropriate. Initially, we were only looking for one area but we realised that we had a great opportunity to have two discreet spaces which has meant that we can have a wealth of external agencies in to work with our students as well as an area for our internal interventions. We also managed to look at our ‘Thrive’ area as well and ensure that this was a welcoming environment.
The SWERL audit is also an excellent tool to review and re-evaluate mental health provision within the academy and we have recently completed the audit again to identify our next priorities.

Costs and Resources

Our main costs were resources in terms of furniture for the room. Our ‘Blue’ room is set up with chairs and interchangeable desks which allows for group work and for practitioners to set up the room for their intervention. The ‘Green’ room is like a lounge within a home and has comfy sofas, plants, pictures etc. to help create a more comfortable environment.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Thrive Awareness Course - Morland Primary

The Pastoral Care Manager and myself went on a Thrive awareness course, one of the hour-long sessions, and came away convinced that was what we needed at Morland CEVC Primary School. It evolved from a wider issue concerning attainment and barriers to learning.

"SWERL" Supporting Wellbeing, Emotional Resilience and Learning - Ipswich Academy

"SWERL" Supporting Wellbeing, Emotional Resilience and Learning - Gusford Primary School

SWERL - Castle Hill Infant & Junior Schools

"SWERL" Supporting Wellbeing, Emotional Resilience and Learning - St Alban's Catholic High School


Westbourne Academy

Maxine Abbott


Westbourne Academy

Cathy Cook

Assistant Principal