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This is how we share information and good practices relating to mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges

What's New

NEWS: The AcSEED Newsletter

28th July 2022

AcSEED Newsletter for July 2022

NEWS: UK Government blog

21st July 2022

What we are doing to improve the mental health of children and young people

NEWS: AcSEED at MHW Show 2022

11th May 2022

AcSEED were a presenter and exhibitor at the Mental Health and Wellbeing show in Cardiff on 10th May 2022

NEWS: Wistaston Accreditation

25th April 2022

Wistaston Church Lane Academy in Crewe, Cheshire receive AcSEED Award

NEWS: Gorse Hall Accreditation

7th April 2022

Gorse Hall Primary and Nursery School in Stalybridge, Cheshire receive AcSEED Award

NEWS: Crosby High Accreditation

7th April 2022

Crosby High School in Crosby, Merseyside receive AcSEED Award

NEWS: St Olave's Accreditation

1st April 2022

St Olave's Grammer School in Orpington, Kent receive AcSEED Award

NEWS: St Paul's Accreditation

19th August 2021

St Paul's Church of England Primary School in Stalybridge, Cheshire receive AcSEED Award

NEWS: The AcSEED Newsletter

14th December 2020

AcSEED Newsletter for December 2020

NEWS: On-line Wellbeing Support

11th December 2020

Kooth: An on-line Mental Health Support Platform

NEWS: Mental Health in Schools Conference

11th November 2020

Report from the Westminster Insight conference on Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools

NEWS: Fairfield Road Accreditation

20th October 2020

Fairfield Road Primary School receive AcSEED Award

NEWS: Newport Girls' get AcSEED Award

31st August 2020

Congratulations to Newport Girls' High School in Shropshire ...

NEWS: First AcSEED Wellbeing Centre

25th June 2019

Trinity School and College opens the first AcSEED Wellbeing Centre

The AcSEED Newsletter

January 2017


Welcome to the AcSEED Newsletter for Spring Term 2017, and can we firstly thank all those organisations that sent Christmas and New Year wishes to The AcSEED Initiative. Each one was very much appreciated, and we wish good health and happiness to all in 2017.

2016 was a busy and productive year for AcSEED with schools across 18 UK counties requesting the self-assessment form and a significant increase in the number of organisations achieving AcSEED accreditation. It was also very pleasing to see a wide range of schools and colleges being accredited, which provides further evidence that the scheme has the flexibility to be tailored to the individual needs of each organisation and local environment.

Two key milestones achieved by AcSEED in 2016 are worth particular note:

  • Whilst accredited schools already covered student ages from 3 to 25, Blackheath Primary in the West Midlands became the first dedicated primary school to receive The AcSEED Award. This is an important trend given that 50% of mental health problems are established by the age of 14.
  • More than 10,000 young people are now attending AcSEED accredited schools, and thus benefiting from the commitment that these organisations have demonstrated towards emotional wellbeing and mental health support.

It has been pleasing to see a continued increase in the visibility of mental health issues in the UK, and on the wellbeing of young people in particular. During the past year there have been a substantial number of news items, articles, and special features devoted to this topic, all of which will help further reduce mental health stigma. AcSEED volunteers have been pleased to contribute to some of the numerous conferences on young people's mental health at both local and national levels.

The Prime Minister Theresa May has recently spoken about her vision and plans for improving mental health services. Whether this results in any new funding for mental health remains to be seen. However we were encouraged by her commitment that every secondary school will receive 'mental health first aid' training to better support students experiencing mental health issues, and her aim to improve links between schools and NHS mental health services. These are both essential pillars of the existing AcSEED wellbeing framework, and complementary to our wider aims of prevention and early intervention.

In this newsletter we continue our series of articles exploring the motivations that lie behind the AcSEED wellbeing criteria by focussing on 'Peer Support'. We will analyse the aims, investigate the evidence of success, and highlight some of the school initiatives being used to address these needs.

If you would like to submit an article, letter, or notification of a future event to be included in the AcSEED Newsletter please see the contact details below.

The AcSEED Leadership Team


Schools and Colleges receive AcSEED Accreditation

Many congratulations to the following schools and colleges that have recently achieved AcSEED accreditation:

  • Selly Oak Trust School in Selly Oak, Birmingham
  • Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich, Norfolk
  • Royds Hall Community School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
  • Blackheath Primary School in Rowley Regis, West Midlands

The Sixth Form College Farnborough receives AcSEED Award

Congratulations to The Sixth Form College Farnborough in Hampshire, who have been accredited with The AcSEED Award.


At a ceremony to mark the achievement on Thursday 7th July 2016 the award was presented by AcSEED Chief Executive Nick Gatherer to college Principal Simon Jarvis and Deputy Principal for Student Services Catherine Cole. Also attending from the College were Lead Counsellor Claire Basil, Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator Kirsten Halvorsen, and members of the college's Health and Wellbeing team.

Claire Basil, Lead Counsellor at the College said "Given the growing awareness and spotlight on teenage mental health, we have worked very hard to provide students with a variety of options to support their emotional wellbeing and mental health".

Kirsten Halvorsen, Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at the College added that "We provide education via our tutorial program, workshops on a variety of relevant subjects, face to face counselling via our highly experienced and skilled counselling team and ongoing support via the Health and Wellbeing and Tutorial team. We are very proud to have been awarded the AcSEED accreditation".

Read the full story here.

Wyvern College receives The AcSEED Award

Congratulations to Wyvern College in Fair Oak, Hampshire, who have been accredited with The AcSEED Award.


The AcSEED Award is accepted by Wyvern's Headteacher Alan Newton, Wyvern SENCO Cheron Macdonald, and members of the Wyvern wellbeing team.

To enhance its provision, the College has trained a number of staff in emotional First Aid, developed and jointly run a Mental Health Project for 19 local schools, established a dedicated mental health and wellbeing policy, delivered assemblies on mental health stigma, and run Mental Health and Wellbeing conferences for staff and parents. In addition, the College is able to provide access to counselling and a trained Mental Health Youth Worker.

On receiving the Award Wyvern SENCO Mrs Cheron Macdonald commented: "We are delighted to have achieved this award which recognises the wide range of advice and support we are now able to offer our students in this key area".

Oak Lodge School receives The AcSEED Award

Congratulations to Oak Lodge School in Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, who have been accredited with The AcSEED Award.

Oak Lodge Pic1
Oak Lodge Pic2

At a whole school assembly on Friday 4th November 2016, AcSEED Chief Executive Nick Gatherer presented the award to Headteacher Tessa Care. Also attending was Abby Crowe from the charity Solent Mind (far right in both pictures).

Liz Lee, Assistant Head and SENCO wellbeing lead, said "As a large secondary special school, catering for a wide range of special educational needs, we are extremely proud of this achievement. Emphasis is placed on meeting the holistic needs of our pupils; developing resilience, independence, a sense of wellbeing, physical and mental health and belonging, seen as equally important as academic development in preparing them for adulthood, supported by our governing body".

Oak Lodge has had support over the past two years from the Solent Mind charity 'Heads UP' project through workshops delivered by Abby Crowe.

Focus on AcSEED assessment criteria: 'Peer Mentoring'

By: Charlotte Gatherer, AcSEED Founder

Over the past decade the prevalence of school based peer mentoring has rapidly increased, with over a third of schools now providing some degree of peer support (Peer Mentoring in Schools) to an estimated 16,000 students.

Students appointed as mentors provide support, encouragement or advice to other students on social, emotional or academic issues. Mentors act as role models to the mentees who are usually younger in age.

Peer mentoring falls within criteria 6 of the AcSEED framework: 'Emotional Wellbeing Services'. All accredited schools have therefore successfully demonstrated the presence of an active peer mentoring programme. Primary, secondary and special schools have creatively tailored their support to best meet the needs of their student population, for example through paired reading, anti-bulling schemes, or break time clubs.

Peer mentoring stands out from other forms of adult-student support as research suggests it not only benefits the mentee but also the mentor.

What are the benefits for the mentor?

  • Greater self-awareness
  • Opportunity to find meaning in past experiences and use this understanding to assist others
  • Develop empathy and listening skills
  • Enjoyable experience
  • Increase confidence and self esteem
  • Reinforcement of own study skills
  • Valuable addition to CV
  • Formation of new friendships / relationships
  • Development of new skills eg leadership, communication, conflict resolution
  • Greater sense of connectedness to school
  • Potential improvement in attainment levels

What are the benefits for the mentee?

  • One to one support with difficulties
  • Encouragement, guidance and support
  • Formation of new friendships / relationships
  • Develop communication and interpersonal skills
  • Increase confidence and self esteem
  • Enjoyable experience
  • Potential improvements in behaviour, attendance and academic performance
  • Greater sense of connectedness to school / peers
  • Heightened sense of self-efficacy
  • Develop academic / study skills

What are the benefits for the school?

  • Contributes to participation goals
  • Develops a considerate community that acknowledges the importance of healthy relationships
  • Promotes PHSE / citizenship programmes
  • Can reduce incidents of bullying within school
  • Gives staff a fresh perspective and insight into personal skills and qualities of mentors
  • Provides a support service that staff may be unable to offer

Top tips for making your peer mentoring scheme a success:

  • Investigate what help is available locally. Some charities offer training and support to peer mentoring schemes.
  • Use peer mentoring in addition to, rather than instead of, more formal wellbeing support.
  • Recruit mentors from a range of cultures and backgrounds to promote social inclusion and equality.
  • Provide mentors with appropriate training.
  • Enlist a dedicated member of staff to supervise and manage the mentors.
  • Ensure school staff (including SMT) support the peer mentoring program.
  • Use outcome monitoring / feedback to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the scheme.
  • Publicise the peer mentoring service throughout the school.
  • Acknowledge and reward peer mentors eg through credits and certificates.

Is 'Peer Mentoring' Evidence-Based?

High quality and reliable data is often difficult to find in respect of young people's mental health, which can lead to reliance on anecdotal information to drive improvement initiatives. In recent years however there have been a number of targeted programmes, particularly in the UK and US, to measure the deployment and impact of peer mentoring schemes in schools.

It is difficult to generalise the results of these studies as they have focussed on a wide range of aims and implementation practices. However the data does provide consistent evidence for a number of key observations:

  • Peer mentoring schemes have greatest impact when they are formalised and include training, support and management of the mentors.
  • Peer mentoring programmes have benefits to both mentees and mentors, and are perceived to have a wider benefit for the climate of the school.
  • The data illustrates that measurable benefits can be achieved in wellbeing, attendance, behaviours, and attainment.

One example data point from the MBF Outcomes Measurement Programme 2009-10 found that after participating in a peer mentoring scheme 61.6% of mentees reported an improvement in their well-being, whilst in a control group of students who did not participate in the scheme 37.8% reported an improvement in well-being.

Peer Mentoring Plans at Horndean Technology College (HTC), Hampshire

By: Joanna Skeet, Inclusion Manager at HTC

At HTC we continue to look at how we are best supporting our students in their mental health. This September we are expanding the role of our peer mentors!!

We have had peer mentors for many years and have used a referral system that if we have a concern about a year 7 or 8 student such as a friendship fall outs, homework organisation or nervousness about starting secondary school, they are seen weekly by a peer mentor to talk through the difficulties and be helped think through the difficulty to move forward or find a solution - this has worked very well but we want to make sure that no-one slips through the net!

So this is what we are now planning:

Our year 10 peer mentors work in pairs and each pair will be linked to a specific year 7 tutor group for the whole year, each year 7 will then have a 1 to 1 introduction session with their tutor's peer mentors - we hope that this will be a great early intervention strategy that will encourage our youngest pupils to talk about their feelings and worries and if any concerns are raised during these 1 to 1 sessions they can then be picked up straight away by the school counsellor, who can then decide if further mentoring session are needed or more intensive support. We plan for the peer mentors to spend a whole tutor lesson with their year 7's weekly to support the tutor and help with issues such as friendship fall-outs, school worries, homework and just be there as someone trusted to talk to. Our peer mentors all go to a training afternoon and have supervision from the school counsellor.

AcSEED Logo Updated

The AcSEED logo was originally designed with the subscript 'Emotional Wellbeing Support in Schools'. The subscript has been updated to 'Emotional Wellbeing in Schools and Colleges' to better reflect the scope of organisations engaged with the AcSEED accreditation process. Whilst we are not withdrawing the original logo (to accommodate existing use), the new logo will be used and distributed as standard in future.

Related News

Poll highlights perceived inadequacy of young people's mental healthcare

A poll by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and reported by The Guardian, indicates that many specialist nurses who care for young people with mental health problems believe NHS services are not fit for purpose.

The survey found that 70% of mental health nurses felt that Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were inadequate, whilst 43% thought services were getting worse.

Primary causes identified by participants for these trends included understaffing, delays in getting appointments, shortage of in-patient beds, and high thresholds for accessing care.

These results provide further evidence that mental health problems in children and young people are rapidly escalating, and funding of care services is failing to keep pace. This is one of the key reasons why AcSEED's wellbeing framework for schools and colleges includes a strong focus on prevention, and on provisions for early intervention including trained counsellors.

The full Guardian report can be found here.

New Year Honours for YoungMinds

Many congratulations to Sarah Brennan and Dr Carole Easton, the CEO and Chair respectively of the charity YoungMinds, on receiving OBE's in the New Year honours list. This is welcome recognition for the excellent work of YoungMinds in addressing the mental health needs of children and young people.

To submit an article or letter for publication in The AcSEED Newsletter, or to request further information on the content of this newsletter or The AcSEED Initiative, please email us at: