Skip to content
  • General news
  • Research

New project to understand and improve the wellbeing of school pupils in Greater Manchester

Experts from The University of Manchester are set to work with leaders from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and all of the city-region’s secondary schools on a major new project, to be delivered in partnership with the Anna Freud Centre. The project will survey children about their wellbeing and preparedness for life beyond school, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The project will be led by the Manchester Institute of Education at The University of Manchester, in partnership with the Evidence Based Practice Unit at the Anna Freud Centre and UCL, and the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC). This pioneering project – the first in the UK which seeks to cover all secondary schools in a city-region – will ask pupils about aspects of their lives that influence their wellbeing. It will provide valuable insights and information for school leaders, charities, businesses, other local actors and policy makers, to provide appropriate support services and make immediate improvements.

Professor Jessica Deighton of the Anna Freud Centre says, “At the Anna Freud Centre, we know how much schools and local decision makers need good evidence to provide the best possible mental health and wellbeing support for their pupils. We are looking forward, with our colleagues at CORC, to supporting schools to take action based on a clear understanding of the strengths and needs of pupils in this difficult period.”

The programme will gather data from tens of thousands of young people, delivering aggregated, anonymised feedback to schools in an accessible format through a ‘dynamic online data dashboard’, which will enable teachers and leaders to use it as part of a continuous cycle of improvement. Participating schools will be supported by CORC to use the feedback to plan and evaluate their provision. In addition, the project leaders will use the data gathered to provide evidence briefings for key stakeholders to inform further local and national governmental support for young people's wellbeing.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, explains, “This programme is absolutely essential if we are to truly capture the right intelligence around wellbeing needs of young people as part of Young Person’s Guarantee, and ensure that more of them feel hopeful, optimistic and supported as they move through school, prepare for adulthood, and transition into the world of further education, training and employment”.

Professor Neil Humphrey of The University of Manchester adds, “Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to take action to support the wellbeing of young people. Research shows that mental health in childhood and adolescence predicts health and productivity in adulthood – so the economic case for doing this is clear, and the opportunity for Greater Manchester is immense. There is also a clear moral imperative to improve the lives of young people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Greater Manchester Young People's Wellbeing Programme came about after David Gregson, a businessman, philanthropist, and graduate of the University of Manchester, who is involved in many national sports and charitable organisations, contacted the University in 2019, looking to collaborate on a project to address his deep concerns about the wellbeing of young people in the UK.

To find out more about the programme, please contact