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

Evaluation 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. 

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

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

Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

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

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

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

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

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

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

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

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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’.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem

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

Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

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

Evaluation 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’.

Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

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

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance

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

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

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

Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement

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

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview

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

Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

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

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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…

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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.

Evaluation 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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