The Wellbeing Award for Schools, developed by the National Children’s Bureau and Optimus Education, recognises the outstanding work being done to promote mental health and wellbeing within school communities across England.
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We created this Award in partnership with Optimus Education based on research by Prof. Kathy Weare, who worked with us to look at what works in in promoting social and emotional well-being and responding to mental health problems in schools. This led us to produce a series of resources to support schools, including the whole-school framework for mental health developed by Dr Hilary Emery and Sue Sterling.
There was evidently a need for this work, as shown in several pieces of NCB research including our survey in 2016 with the Association of School and College Leaders which showed many school leaders were seeing a dramatic increases in the number of students suffering from mental health and wellbeing issues. More than half (55%) said there had been a large increase in anxiety or stress, and over 40% reported a big increase in the problem of cyberbullying. Nearly eight out of ten (79%) reported an increase in self harm or suicidal thoughts amongst students.
The Wellbeing Award for Schools was a natural progression of this work and we are delighted it is having a real impact on whole-school communities, and recognising schools that embed a culture which values the happiness and emotional welfare of all its members.
It’s a demanding process that involves the whole school community. It asks everyone to get involved in a degree of self-scrutiny that can be challenging and then to work together to develop a plan for change.
Both the Department for Education and Ofsted have supported this approach, stressing that promoting good mental health is the responsibility of all the people who make up a school community: its staff and governors, parents and pupils, and partner organisations beyond the school gates.
The Wellbeing Award supports schools to create a culture in which mental health can thrive, helping them to:
- Show the school’s commitment to promoting wellbeing as part of day-to-day school life.
- Develop a whole school strategy for improving the wellbeing of pupils.
- Attract and retain high-quality staff.
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Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau said:
‘Children today face new challenges – such as the demands of 24-hour connectivity on social media, cyber-bullying and sexting. They’re also under huge pressure to do well in exams, in the face of an increasingly competitive jobs market.
‘Time and again research has shown these pressures are resulting in a rising tide of mental health issues amongst the young. But as well as helping those with problems, we need to create a positive climate where wellbeing and happiness can bloom. For schools, this means ensuring that mental health is everyone’s business. We’re so excited that this award is recognising schools who’ve risen to the challenge, and are making pupil wellbeing a priority.’
Andrew Thraves, Director of Education for Prospects Services group, said:
'I am delighted that Optimus Education Ltd is working with the National Children's Bureau on the Wellbeing Award for Schools.
‘Pupil wellbeing at school is quite rightly a major concern for teachers and parents. Our Award for schools provides a robust and rigorous framework that enables senior leaders, teachers and other school staff to demonstrate that they take the wellbeing of their pupils seriously.
‘Our partnership with NCB on the conception, design and development of the Award means that the framework is underpinned by a thorough research and evidence base, and its delivery in school is supported by a national network of highly-skilled advisers.'