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A whole school framework for emotional well being and mental health

A self-assessment and improvement tool for school leaders

Schools want to provide effective and enjoyable teaching and learning environments, where children and young people flourish. These depend on good staff and student relationships across the whole school, including with governors, and externally with families, the wider community and other services.

Professor Katherine Weare reviewed the research into what works in schools to improve children and young people’s well-being and mental health – What works in promoting social and emotional well-being and responding to mental health problems in schools? Advice for Schools and Framework Document i. She found that a whole school commitment and ethos, rather than piecemeal approaches, are key to making a difference.

Schools have a wide variety of practice in their daily teaching and pastoral care that support social and emotional wellbeing yet they face increasing wellbeing and mental health challenges among students and staff. If existing practices are systematically co-ordinated they can improve wellbeing and help to prevent mental health issues. Where needs and gaps in practice are then identified they can be addressed by careful selection of intervention programmes, staff development and working with external health and social care partners.

Amidst budget constraints, curriculum and examining changes and the relentless focus on standards and performance a focus on wellbeing may be seen as a distraction. However, done well it can enhance attainment, reduce exclusions, re-engage students who have experienced problems, build good relationships, attract and retain staff and raise standards across the school.

This tool signposts evidence from research and practice. It offers prompts for debate and activity bringing everyone together and building on existing practice, identifying new programmes and interventions, setting priorities and implementing and evaluating change.