The winner of The Speaker's School Action Award 2018 was Biddenham International School & Sports College from Bedford.
Anila Aswad applied for this award on behalf of her fellow sixth form students at Biddenham International School & Sports College.
Anila has been a member of the school Student Forum for five years and is proud of the impact they have had as a group. During Year 11, Anila became anxious about her exams and it began to affect her eating and sleeping. In Year 12 the situation became worse. Anila’s school work began to deteriorate, she became withdrawn and did not want to leave the house. Eventually she was diagnosed with depression.
As a member of the Student Forum, Anila raised the issue of increasing levels of exam stress and anxiety. Together they began to research the issue, and invited speakers from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and other organisations to the school, including a visit from Ben Salmon and his Break the Stigma campaign.
Anila and her fellow students gave a presentation to the Senior Leadership Team and the Governors at their school, and then decided to take this presentation to Parliament. On 10th July, the Student Forum travelled to London to present their research to local MPs Alistair Burt and Mohammed Yasin.
One year on, the school has introduced a range of support mechanisms for mental health and well-being in schools. They have a Wellbeing Coordinator, regular special assemblies, and awareness raising weeks. They have a Monday Mindfulness Club where individuals who are showing signs of anxiety are given simple advice.
There are also Friday sessions for specific students to build their confidence and self-esteem. In addition, the school hosts regular visits from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services therapists, as well as counsellors from other emotional and wellbeing services for young people.