A school which launched a ‘peer listening club’ to tackle mental health issues among students was this week paid a visit by its local MP to learn about the pioneering project.

Chingford Foundation School set up the club in March and trained 25 students and eight staff members to support children through tough times both in the classroom and at home.

The visit on Thursday from Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, came just in time for the school’s 80th anniversary celebrations.

The secondary school in Nevin Drive will mark its milestone on Saturday, July 7, the same day former pupil Harry Kane will lead the England team against Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final.

Operating during lunch times, the project sees ‘Peer Listeners’ patrol playgrounds wearing hi-vis vests while others offer a drop-in service giving learners a safe place to chat.

Peer Listener Jessica Williams, who is in Year 12, said: “Guiding our peers to find their own solutions is one of the best things about being a Peer Listener.

“It provides us reassurance that their situation is more likely to improve because they feel more empowered once they realise they have the strength to overcome their struggles.”

Year 12 student Saira Shahzad added: “I’m very happy to be a Peer Listener. The training has given me skills and confidence to help others, as well as myself.

“As the Peer Listerners are all from different years at school we are able to help each other. I look forward to continuing my role next year.

“We have been invited to attend events in the borough and nationally showcasing our service and have received a letter from 10 Downing Street commending us on our work improving mental health services in our school.”

Sharon Goldstone and Kay Hall, the school’s deputy safeguarding leads shared with Mr Duncan Smith how the Peer Listening Club was born out of the school’s ‘Early Help Hub’.

The club was started with the vision that ‘all students being mentally healthy and safe, leading to improved behaviour and academic learning outcomes within a positive calm and supportive school environment’.

Ms Goldstone has been invited to speak at Westminster Insight’s Mental Health in Schools Conference in October about implementing a successful Peer Listening programme.

The school, whose past pupils also include David Beckham, thanked The Co-Op Chingford and Larkswood Harvester for sponsoring the project.

Ms Goldstone said: “Young people are often a forgotten resource and, I observed, that many students feel comfortable talking to their peers about problems, but this was not always kept confidential.”

Speaking to the students and staff, Iain Duncan Smith said: “As you are doing something very different in your school to address mental health issues, I’ll be speaking to the Education Minister, with a view to him vising your school to see first-hand the valuable work which is going on here, which might be shared with other educational institutions.”