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In St. Mary’s, we understand that counselling in schools can make an important contribution to supporting the emotional health and well-being of young people.

Pupils experiencing stress or emotional problems can find it difficult to engage in the learning and teaching process and to reach their full potential. At any time, pupils may need extra emotional support beyond the normal pastoral care in school to help them to cope with experiences such as bereavement, trauma or family break-ups. Very often, pupils can benefit from a ‘listening ear’ that is not a parent/guardian, friend or someone involved in their education.

Counselling is a way of helping young people through a process of talking, listening and empowerment. Pupils are provided with a safe place to express their feelings and thoughts about what they perceive to be an issue in their life. Counselling can help young people to understand themselves and their situation better. It can give them new ways of coping with issues that cause them upset, therefore increasing their capacity for learning. Successful counselling is based on trust, self-motivation and commitment.

In St. Mary’s, all pupils have access to an independent professional counselling service. This service is currently provided by New Life Counselling and is an integral part of the school’s pastoral care system. The School Counsellor attends St. Mary’s on a weekly basis. Pupils may arrange an appointment with the School Counsellor through confidential self-referral or by speaking to the Form Teacher. A secure Referral Box is discreetly located close to the Pupil Reception for pupils who wish to confidentially make an appointment with the School Counsellor.

The counselling relationship by its nature is confidential. The independence of the service is an important aspect for pupils, particularly those who prefer not to discuss issues with school staff.

All pupils within the school are made aware of the counselling service. As far as possible, the School Counsellor will attend each Year Group Assembly at an early stage of each academic year to deliver a short presentation on counselling.