This page includes information about:
- ideas to ensure the whole school community is working together
- cultivating inclusive and connected schools and colleges
Schools and parents and carers are the two main educators in children’s lives. Both play a crucial role in a child’s engagement in and achievement at school, and their positive influence is all the greater when they work in partnership. For this reason, it is important that the school ethos values the child’s environment, family situation and key relationships.
Integrating mental health and wellbeing across the whole school or college community means encouraging all voices to be heard and taking on board people’s views and feedback. Pupils, parents and carers, and school staff should have the chance to influence decisions and shape school policy. See also ‘Establishing a mental health action group’, within this Step.
A school or college’s ethos and environment will also affect wellbeing. A culture of inclusiveness and connectedness, whereby pupils understand that their wellbeing and education is being taken seriously and contribute to this, will have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the whole community and improve academic outcomes.[i]
[i] Janis L. Whitlock (2006) Youth Perceptions of Life at School: Contextual Correlates of School Connectedness in Adolescence, Applied Developmental Science, 10:1, 13–29, DOI: 10.1207/s1532480xads1001_2
Inclusive and connected schools and colleges
When trying to cultivate an inclusive and connected school or college, the following questions may be a helpful starting point:
- How does the culture and ethos of your school or college encourage open communication, particularly when it comes to raising concerns?
- How do you currently demonstrate your commitment to working with pupils and parents and carers on mental health and wellbeing?
- Are all staff members’ concerns given equal weight?
- How do you communicate your mental health and wellbeing policies? Are they displayed publicly? Does your school or college have dedicated spaces, such as quiet zones, that are available to pupils or staff who need some time out?
Involving the whole school community
Regular and genuine involvement of the whole school community – including parents and carers, staff and pupils –in decision-making and planning will to help foster an ethos of inclusiveness and connectedness.
Involving the whole school community could include lots of different things, for example:
- Identifying parents and carers, pupils and staff members to review and input into key policies.
- Establishing lines of communication and opportunities for pupils to share feedback with school or college governors in relation to wellbeing issues.
- Consulting pupils on issues connected to wellbeing – for example to improve feelings of safety on and around school or college grounds.
- Involving staff, pupils and parents and carers in planning and running wellbeing weeks.
- Hosting regular parent and carer drop-in sessions with a variety of teaching and non-teaching staff.
- Setting up multi-family groups in schools to support pupils who may be experiencing mental health related difficulties.
- Appointing pupil wellbeing champions across class or year groups and making sure that these pupils are part of any school or college Mental Health Action Group or council.
- Involving pupils and parents/carers to develop a wellbeing programme calendar for the year, including ‘pressure points’ such as exam periods and tips and tools for self-care around these times.
Parent Champion Nicola, gives advice about how schools can best engage with parents and carers
Young Champion Michelle, talks about her own experiences of school and how schools can best support their pupils
Our Mentally Healthy Schools team have put together some information about what including pupil voice looks like in practice and how schools can work towards it.
This booklet includes information about involving parents and carers, having difficult conversations with parents and carers and some examples of engagement.