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BSA Boarding Excellence Awards winner

BSA Boarding Excellence Awards winner

BSA Boarding Excellence Awards – Winner of Wellbeing & Mental Health Initiative Award

We are delighted and proud to have been selected as the winner of the BSA Boarding Excellence Wellbeing & Mental Health Initiative Award 2023 for our Canford Sleep Programme. Headmaster Ben Vessey accepted the award on behalf of the school at the awards dinner on Monday 2nd May during the BSA Boarding conference.

Our Sleep Programme, launched in 2021, was the brainchild of Canford’s Head of Wellbeing, Melissa Clinton. Melissa decided to devise a unique Sleep Programme to help pupils make more informed, better choices on the important life skill of sleep health, based on external research and also a wellbeing audit involving interviews and surveys with pupils, staff and parents. 

Good sleep patterns are a fundamental area of health. Research findings highlighted sleep as one of the top areas of note within studies on pupil positive mental health and this was supported by data highlighted by Canford’s school counsellors based at our Health Centre.  Sleep fundamentally supports mental, emotional and physical health, which is especially important through adolescent growth and learning stages. 

The unique programme covers core areas such as:

•          Why sleep matters

•          Science of sleep

•          Why sleep issues occur

•          Practical strategies/ways to improve sleep

and is delivered via Houses through a Designated Sleep Champion member of staff who leads the roll out, promote the benefits of good sleep to pupils in house and encourages conversation around sleep issues.

The programme was designed to empower our pupils with knowledge and understanding so they may make more informed choices on sleep health, to learn independent skills to manage sleep health in support of managing their own wellbeing.

Boys’ Boarding House Matron Charlotte completed The Sleep Charity online e-learning course and in-house training gaining useful tools to help pupils who struggle with sleep. She said:

During the new pupil induction the importance of sleep is now discussed and I’m happy to chat with any boarders who need advice on getting better quality sleep. The new programme shines a light on managing wellbeing.

Boys’ Boarding House Master, Will Linley-Adams said,

The sleep programme has been fantastic. It is a great avenue for many who struggle with their sleep by being able to approach both the Sleep Champion in house or Melissa Clinton, our Head of Wellbeing. Pupils are now much better equipped to face the challenges that sleep can pose and appreciate the areas that they can control around their sleep. It has helped the house winddown at the end of the day and is helping boys in Franklin House achieve all they can in all areas of Canford life.

At the end of the first year of the programme we questioned pupils on how they now viewed sleep, with impressive results. One of our boarding pupils, Poppy, gave her detailed insight into her Sleep Programme experience:

The Sleep Programme has given me a greater insight into how important sleep is and how I can help myself by improving the sleep I get. We learnt how it supports all aspects of our school life, from managing our emotions, to my concentration levels in the classroom, and getting lots of sleep even makes you faster at running in sports so good for my hockey, with faster reaction times in my netball.

The programme is a mix of sessions in house. The Head of Wellbeing Mrs Clinton did a big groups session with true and false game about benefits of sleep, this was a fun debate. We also had sessions with our tutor and matron who helps as a sleep champion. She helped us fill out sleep diaries to really look into detail at what our bedtime routine was like and how much sleep we were getting.  Adjusting to boarding can bring it’s challenges for sleep but it is good to keep thinking about it and having support on it because then when it comes to stressful times like GCSE’s you know how to charge your body and mind to cope with it.  Now that I am pupil leader I am helping support younger years as a person to talk to, and this includes if they are having sleep issues.

The wellbeing of our pupils is at the heart of all we do at Canford School, and our Sleep Education Programme is an excellent example of how we aim to prevent mental health issues arising and support a culture of wellbeing for all pupils through innovation based on research.

Further information

Full details of award winners can be found here:

Further details about our innovative Sleep Programme initiative, as featured by School House Magazine, can be found here: