Keri Haw

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Adventures in Wellbeing & other stories

August 5, 2019

Organised by the lovely Fearne Cotton, Happy Place Festival promised a day of love, calm, wellness and a little slice of happy. It did not disappoint. Set in the beautiful grounds of Chiswick House, we arrived at an oasis of stalls and zones all geared towards setting the scene for a perfectly serene day. In addition to relaxation stations and stalls by Happiful magazine, Rescue Remedy, CoppaFeel and more to browse, there was a talk tent boasting huge names and teepees for various bookable workshops. Here were my hi-lights from the day.

Writing Workshop with Wanda Canton

I had no idea what to expect from this. When I booked, classes were selling out fast so I didn't take a huge amount of time to explore the options thoroughly. This was posted as a 'writing for wellbeing workshop' which sounded right up my street so I booked it without much of a second thought. It turns out Wanda is a spoken word, rap and hip hop artist. It is fair to say I am not cool enough to be involved in anything to...

December 3, 2017

I had some huge boots to fill when I took over as Housemistress here in Malvern. Mrs P was not only beloved by all but with years of experience, was superb at her job. We had a thorough handover and to this day, which is three years on, I still find the occasional post it note stuck to something with useful words of wisdom in her scribe. One bit of advice she gave has become a sort of mantra and underpins all my good practice. It's at the heart of what makes us excellent at pastoral care at my school. She said get to know your girls. Seems obvious, doesn't it? We're an all-girls school by the way, so same goes for girls, boys, polar bears. But that relationship building with each young person as an individual truly is the linchpin to successful pastoral care.


There's no avoiding it, getting to know students requires time. It doesn't matter how it's spent but time it will take. Doing an activity together is a great way to get to know someone. Those team building induction trips at th...

June 25, 2017

It’s easy to get swept along with the wellbeing revolution, isn’t it? Being passionate about improving the lives of the people around me and being inspired by what other schools like Magna Carta (@cerasuteach) were achieving I got the bug about this time last year. I was gung ho and ready to transform my school overnight! Let's just say it's going a little slower than anticipated. So here are some tips for getting started and staying the course of your wellbeing journey.

Plan for the long run, prepare for tomorrow

Have a vision. What do you want wellbeing to look like at your school? Now with that vision in mind, rewind to the present moment. What small step can you take right now to make a start? Think small start, big finish. You’ll be surprised how quickly you inch forward moments at a time. Don’t let big ambitions get in the way of progress, no matter how small.

Pitching – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel

Next, you’ll need to get your SLT on board. Every school is different but you...

October 25, 2016

Piling into the TV room on a Saturday and Sunday evening with a bunch of girls and some nachos ready to shout our commentary at the telly is one of the many joys of boarding. I often look around the room noting the mix of girls of different ages and backgrounds and see them acting as siblings. It's a beautiful thing. 

Watching TV together is an opportunity for many things. The girls often critique sexist adverts for example and so much television, things like X Factor in particular offer opportunities for debate. I have been told off at least twice for criticising men for not wearing socks with their shoes and reminded that 'you should be commenting on the singing, not what they're wearing Miss H'. We've had opportunity to explore issues of gender, sexuality, censorship and so on. 

But this year I have found myself doing something I haven't done before. I'm backing the underdog. I was never keen on the likes of Jedward, Rylan, Wagner and all the other token comic acts over the...

October 18, 2016

Cue lots of metaphors about being on a journey. Brace yourselves!

The road to whole school wellbeing is not a sprint. It's more like a multi-marathon. A tough mudder, obstacle clad, 'this is sparta' style multi-marathon. OK perhaps I'm exaggerating but plain sailing it is not. Nor should it be. The road to whole school wellbeing should be paved with practices to try on for size, keep, adjust or discard, as appropriate. 

I already mentioned this path started for me as I took on Anti-Bullying at school. Having heard of Anti-Bullying Pro's Ambassador scheme and thought that was the right way for us to go. With SLT approval I went about booking a day's training. For those of you unfamiliar, they do wonderful work in schools, training up young people as Anti-bullying Ambassadors. They champion anti-bullying, are there for peers to approach if they feel they are being bullied, raise awareness and organise anti-bullying activities and events. Brilliant. SLT approve, girls are excited,...

August 20, 2016

I'm not going to patronize you by giving the Oxford dictionary definition but a quick google search reveals the general consensus is that wellbeing is a state of being happy and healthy. During a chat with a colleague recently she asked, 'isn't wellbeing is just another word for mental health?' We're all aware of the stigmas which surround mental health and so perhaps re-framing it as wellbeing, a hot topic at the moment, is society's way of dealing with the mental health crisis in schools without having to call it mental health. This got me thinking. What is wellbeing? 

After giving it some consideration I decided that for me, working on our wellbeing is the maintenance side of mental health. If our mental health management was on a scale, at one end you'd have the extreme of sectioning and medication to deal with crisis point mental ill health and at the other end you'd have the brushing your teeth equivalent. The day to day practices which keep us ticking over, h...

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Teenagers today have it harder than I did

October 9, 2016

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