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Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1 Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding Reputation management for schools Experience shared: Effective mentoring Tackling bullying in schools - part one Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others Managing difficult conversations The art of influence: Creating the best outcome Change management and conflict Managing anxiety at work Interpreting data for 2017 performance Free article: Know your strengths Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Free article: Governors: The competency framework Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Free article: Transforming a failing school Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Free article: Managing uncertainty Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Free article: The governing body as a critical friend Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Free article: The exam post-mortem Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Free article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal Free article: Making CPD work harder Free article: Using the Framework for governance Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Free article: The government's Prevent guidance Free article: Improving provision for the most able Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values Free article: Raising boys’ achievement Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Free article: Governors and the inspection interview Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Free article: Challenging 
the most able Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Free article: Four steps to school improvement Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Free article: Getting personal  with CPD Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Free article: Parent View — an update Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Free article: Effective parental engagement

Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1

In the first part of a two-part article, Matt Bromley looks at ways to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding

How do you make a successful bid for a slice of the government’s Strategic School Improvement Fund? Best Practice Network’s Liam Donnison asks two school leaders who have done so…

Reputation management for schools

PLMR’s Sam Dalton talks about how schools can manage reputational impact when a crisis hits.

Experience shared: Effective mentoring

Steve Burnage explores the professional development potential of a productive and focused mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentor.

Tackling bullying in schools - part one

Bullying is defined as: ‘Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally’. This article looks at the…

Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others

Conflict management is a vital skill for managers. Schools have clear policies on managing aggression in the classroom and playground. In this article Louise Wingrove looks at dealing with it…

Managing difficult conversations

Some conversations are always going to be uncomfortable. In this article, Louise Wingrove looks at managing difficult subjects with care and confidence.

The art of influence: Creating the best outcome

Louise Wingrove looks at how being aware of your impact on others can help everybody get what they need.

Change management and conflict

Nazli Hussein looks at the causes of conflict and the best ways to deal with it, with the best outcomes for those involved.

Managing anxiety at work

With growing awareness about anxiety and the impact it can have on both pupils and members of staff, Louis Wingrove looks at some ways to tackle the problem in the…

Interpreting data for 2017 performance

Tony Powell looks at the three different ways that a school’s academic performance is evaluated.

Free article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Free article: Governors: The competency framework

Tony Powell looks at the changes to governance in the DfE publication A competency framework for governance.

Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Free article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Free article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty

DfE statistics show a clear link between SEND and children living in poverty. Suzanne O’Connell outlines some of the reasons for this, and recommendations for action, in a Joseph Rowntree…

Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Free article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling, gives a personal take on renewing a failing governing body having designed and built one from scratch.

Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Free article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Free article: Using the Framework for governance

Tony Powell looks at how the Framework for governance can be used to clarify the strategic direction of your school.

Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Free article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Free article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

Tony Powell advises on how schools can demonstrate that they are actively promoting fundamental British values.

Free article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Free article: Governors and the inspection interview

Tony Powell discusses how to prepare governors in advance for an inspection interview.

Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Free article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Free article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Free article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Free article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Free article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

Published: Friday, 07 April 2017

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be applied.

 Summary

  • Changes to mental health provision include: a major review of CAMHS, publication of a green paper to detail plans to improve services in schools, and an expansion of online mental health support.
  • The National Children’s Bureau has launched an online toolkit: A whole school framework for emotional wellbeing and mental health, which includes a step-by-step guide to developing capacity within a school.
  • The toolkit advises: identifying what is in place already; gaining a shared understanding of current practice and a commitment to change and development; building relationships and developing good practice; implementing good practice and evaluating progress.

The concern of schools in relation to mental health needs has not gone unnoticed. In a speech given to the Charity Commission on the 9 January 2017, Theresa May announced improving mental health support to be a key priority for the government.

Actions will include a major review of CAMHS, publication of a green paper to detail plans to improve services in schools, and an expansion of online mental health support. All secondary schools can expect to be involved in the three-year training programme to be run by Mental Health First Aid England. One third of secondary schools are expected to receive this training in 2017.

Ideally, what schools would like to see is an increase in availability of support in real terms. External support and advice has become hard to access for many. However, in the meantime, pupils are struggling and need help. So what can schools do?

Materials are being made available to help schools establish a framework that prioritises mental health. The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) has launched an online toolkit: A whole school framework for emotional wellbeing and mental health, which includes a step-by-step guide to developing capacity within a school.

It might not provide the practical external support that most people are probably hoping for, but these materials may none the less be useful in helping you to maximise your school’s resources and look at how your school culture might be developed to protect wellbeing.

The materials suggest a four-stage approach to wellbeing and mental health that includes:

  1. identifying what is in place already – what happens and what matters in your school
  2. gaining a shared understanding of current practice and a commitment to change and development
  3. building relationships and developing good practice
  4. implementing good practice and evaluating progress.

The information below, together with the toolkit items, provide more guidance on each of these steps.

Identifying what is in place

You need to establish what already exists in your school and how the school already manages wellbeing and mental health. In order to do this you could use surveys and bring people together in forum discussion groups.

The NCB suggests a brainstorming activity around an axes map that allows you to group current practices according to those that are:

  • low risk and high capacity
  • low risk and low capacity
  • high risk and high capacity
  • high risk and low capacity.

All members of the school should be given the opportunity to identify what concerns them and what opportunities for change they consider there might be. Looking for good practice and sharing it is an important element of this. There may be parts of the school where individuals or groups of staff have already begun to establish strategies and support that is working well for them.

Your school should consider the extent to which it:

  • is involved in prevention through ensuring an ethos that supports resilience and mental health
  • has strategies in place, including access to a counselling service
  • is able to identify difficulties at an early stage and is able to address emerging problems effectively
  • uses a strengths and difficulties questionnaire
  • involves pupils and families in making decisions
  • seeks wider help to support those with severe problems.

Look closely at your curriculum and identify where issues related to mental health are addressed. This should not be only in PSHE but requires a cross-curricular perspective.

Shared understanding

Mental health is not a subject that has received much publicity until quite recently. There has been an element of stigma surrounding it that has prevented open discussions and subsequently has compounded the difficulties that children and young people have faced.

Once you know clearly what systems are already in place in the school, the next step is to ensure that, as you develop these further, everyone is sharing the same terminology. Begin a discussion that clarifies a school-wide understanding of what the terms you commonly use mean for you. For example, what does your school understand ‘social and emotional wellbeing’ actually to mean?

You might be surprised at how different people’s responses will be. Once you have clarification on your key terms, then you need to decide your framing principles and establish a vision for the school’s universal and targeted work.

The NCB identifies its framing principles as being:

  • Adopt whole-school thinking.
  • Engage the whole community.
  • Prioritise professional learning and staff development.
  • Implement targeted programmes and interventions including the curriculum.
  • Develop supportive policy.
  • Connect appropriately with approaches to behaviour management.
  • Implement targeted responses and identify specialist pathways.

Your focus on wellbeing should also consider the impact that tests and examinations are having in your school. It is easy to underestimate just how much we expect of pupils and the pressure we place on them in terms of what we want them to achieve. Toning this down and taking a broader view of our hopes for their future can encourage them to adopt a healthier balance too.

Developing good practice

The next stage as part of the NCB materials is that of action planning. Following your consultations and discussions, the senior leadership team should be able to identify what the next priorities are for your school in terms of supporting pupils with mental health needs.

Your action plan should have clear objectives to support the vision you have agreed. It is important that the plan is seen as a key school document and a shared initiative, and those given responsibility for completing actions should be given the time and resources to do so.

Your plan need not be developed in isolation. It can build on existing school improvement plans and its format should fit what your staff are used to working with. Make sure that it includes how you will create confidence and capacity. Training and development of staff is an important feature of this and you need to consider at an early stage who will provide and lead the training.

Targeted and specialist support should cover:

  • anxiety
  • eating disorders
  • attachment disorders
  • hyperkinetic disorders
  • conduct disorders
  • post-traumatic stress
  • deliberate self-harm
  • substance misuse
  • depression.

It is likely that you will need to source external advice on how best to address particular health needs, although some guidance is also available from the DfE’s Mental health and behaviour in schools departmental advice for school staff.

Implementing and evaluating

Once you have the plans in front of you, the most important next step is to ensure that they are put into practice and their success evaluated. The school’s mental health and wellbeing strategy and planning are no different from other areas of school life – they need a rigorous approach to monitoring how effective they are. A mistake that some schools have made in the past is not to have recognised just how crucial good mental health is to learning, as well as to general wellbeing.

Finally

It would be ideal if, as well as helping schools to plan and prepare to improve mental health and wellbeing, these materials were backed up by health services support as needed. In the meantime, schools can at least put some measures into practice that might help stem the tide.

Further information

Toolkit

Use the following items in the Toolkit to help put the ideas in the article into practice:

About the author

Dr Suzanne O’Connell was headteacher of a junior school in Warwickshire for eleven years. During her teaching career she has worked in primary and middle schools in Coventry, Bradford and Leeds. She now works as a freelance education writer and editor. Suzanne can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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