10 Ways to Support and Improve Pupil Wellbeing in Schools
Pupils spend a large portion of their week in school. That’s why health and wellbeing must be a central focus for schools across the country. Wellbeing covers everything from mental health, safeguarding, a healthy lifestyle, being active and the overall happiness of a pupil — all of these need to be a priority.
To find out how to foster a positive and successful wellbeing programme in your school, keep reading.
1. Understanding That Every Pupil Is Different
No two pupils are the same. What might be the case for one student could be completely different for the other, so keep this in mind when considering pupil wellbeing measures in schools.
Although you should always treat your pupils equally, individual needs will vary and the wellbeing processes you operate within your school will need to cater to these needs.
Effective planning, identification of the requirements and processes to put in place will be critical to build a successful wellbeing programme within your school. We’ll discuss different pupil needs in more detail throughout this article.
2. Identifying Pupils That Need Extra Support
Due to different pupils having varying requirements, it’s crucial to identify the students that might need extra support. Whether they need help with additional learning, require special needs assistance or mental health support, staff and leaders will need the training to spot these signs and deliver the necessary support.
Some schools have found a solution in keeping a register. This allows staff to identify students who need extra support and work with the pupil, their parents and the pastoral team to ensure their wellbeing needs are met.
3. Having Realistic Expectations
Although homework is necessary to ensure pupil understanding and engagement, it’s about striking the right balance. Overloading students with extra learning or homework could increase stress and harm their mental wellbeing.
It’s also important to understand pupils have different levels of support at home. For example, setting homework that requires internet access may not be attainable for every student, which could mean they can’t complete their tasks and may suffer in silence.
Yes, school is about learning, but it’s crucial to look at the bigger picture. Allowing pupils to have time for extracurricular activities — such as sports or learning an instrument — could positively impact their overall wellbeing, increasing their motivation to learn in the classroom.
4. Looking Beyond the School Environment
Although school is a large part of a pupil’s life, much more goes on outside the school gates that can impact their wellbeing. It’s essential to take this into account.
Factors such as socioeconomic status, gender identity, special needs and disabilities will all impact a pupil’s overall wellbeing and how they are in the school setting. As a pupil spends the majority of their week in school, their wellbeing, specific needs and safeguarding are the responsibility of teachers and school leaders.
5. Putting a Stop to Bullying
Bullying has been an issue in schools for decades. By law, all state schools must have policies that prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.
However, bullying can be a complex and challenging issue to tackle. Investing in anti-bullying measures, raising awareness through campaigns such as Anti-Bullying Week and training staff to offer the right support services all contribute towards tackling and reducing bullying.
6. Having a Comprehensive Wellbeing Service in Place
Developing a wide-reaching wellbeing service and the policies to support it is necessary to ensure pupil wellbeing is a key focus. A whole-school approach should be adopted to ensure everybody throughout all school touchpoints is invested.
Covering everything from support services, wellbeing programmes, initiatives and lifestyle support, a school’s wellbeing service should have dedicated staff and student representatives in place to ensure its success.
7. Improving School Environment
The impact of the school environment on pupil wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated. If you foster a positive school environment with the facilities needed to progress, this will result in happier pupils with an increased sense of wellbeing.
This could be something as simple as giving your classrooms a refresh or creating quiet study spaces for those who need it. On the other hand, it could be something on a much larger scale, such as securing funding for a new department or new purpose-built facilities. Either way, these kinds of improvements can have a massive impact on pupil wellbeing and their outlook on school life.
8. Staff Wellbeing
Staff and pupil wellbeing are directly correlated. If staff feel they’re getting the support they need in an environment they enjoy and trust, they’re much more likely to pass these positive associations on to their students.
Staff wellbeing should be supported throughout schools and teachers should be trained to deliver effective wellbeing support, spot the signs of vulnerabilities and identify room for improvement.
9. Having An Open Door Policy
Knowing there’s always somewhere to turn to should they need support is essential for a pupil’s wellbeing. By operating an open-door policy, students are much more likely to seek out advice and support if they need it.
If it’s difficult for a pupil to locate support or know the right people to contact if they face difficulties, they may be more likely to suffer in silence. Fostering a supportive environment where help is readily available is key to improving overall pupil wellbeing.
10. Supporting Healthy Eating and an Active Lifestyle
Wellbeing goes beyond mental health and learning–having an active lifestyle and healthy eating are also part of the picture. Supporting healthy eating and an active lifestyle will directly impact a pupil’s mental wellbeing and physical health.
Physical activity has been proven to promote positive wellbeing by encouraging better sleep, releasing feel-good hormones and managing stress. Because of this, it should become part of your overall wellbeing programme for pupils through PE classes, extracurricular sports and healthy eating options.