Helping school leaders to think about staff and pupil wellbeing

It’s good to hear more conversations going on inside schools and academies about the relationship between staff and pupil wellbeing. The issue has been creeping up the agenda and is (rightly) starting to influence more of the decision making at trust and governor level. Just last week the DfE published their updated guidance on “Mental health and behaviour in schools“. Questions we hear from school leaders – How can we move from policy to good practice? How can we successfully influence cultural change at both trust level and in the classroom?

Yet it seems many school and academy leaders are still too afraid to ask their pupils and staff about their mental health and their needs. Perhaps fearful of opening the floodgates to issues they feel uncomfortable or unable to deal with. We’ve been thinking about how we can support schools to navigate this process – and think more about how staff and pupil wellbeing needs to be considered together and not as separate issues.

In our research around this issue, we have come across thought provoking reports, resources, evidence and articles which may be useful to school leaders who are thinking about reviewing their approach and policies around whole school wellbeing:

The Work Foundation produced a report in 2014, “Healthy teachers, higher marks?

A really useful set of sample staff wellbeing questionnaires can be found on The Key – alongside sample pupil wellbeing surveys.

Guardian article from earlier this year on how to set up a staff wellbeing group in your school.

We came across this University of Bristol research project, funded by Economic and Social Research Council () looking at the link between mental health and adolescent academic achievement – their final report is due in Spring 2019. The researchers leading the study are looking to identify how effective mental health screenings should be conducted in secondary schools in the UK.

TES article, “Teacher stress spreads to pupils like a contagion

Summary of research from Leeds Beckett University in January 2018, “Pupil progress held back by teachers’ poor mental health

Mentally Healthy Schools has great free resources, “Good staff wellbeing is essential for cultivating a mentally healthy school, for retaining and motivating staff and for promoting pupil wellbeing and attainment.”

Do you need help measuring wellbeing in your school? Try the Child Outcomes Research Consortium’s wellbeing measurement guide. From January 2019 online applications will be open again for schools interested in getting support from Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families. You can email measuringwellbeing@annafreud.org for more information.

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