Oxfordshire school to get dedicated health professional as part of Nuffield Health pilot scheme

Oxfordshire school to get dedicated health professional as part of Nuffield Health pilot scheme

An Oxfordshire secondary school is to get a dedicated health professional in a bid to improve the wellbeing of pupils and staff.

As part of a pilot scheme by not-for-profit health organisation Nuffield Health, Wood Green School in Witney will have a Head of Wellbeing for the next two years.

Nuffield Health put out a call for schools to participate in the scheme – the first of its kind in the country – in March so as to explore the impact a permanent staff member charged with wellbeing has on the school environment.

The initiative will be funded by Nuffield Health and will see the two year secondment of a Head of Wellbeing to help develop and implement health and wellbeing strategy at the school.

Research by Nuffield Health and think tank 2020health found 75 per cent of school children and young people living with mental illness go undiagnosed. The study also found 73 per cent of teachers felt their job had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing, and that support in schools was “inadequate”.

All staff are to be offered a lifestyle health assessment and pupils’ emotional wellbeing, nutrition and activity levels will also be monitored.

An investigation by Schools Week revealed there are no up-to-date figures on how many under-18s suffer from a mental illness. The last data was published in 2004.

The impact the initiative has on the physical and psychological health of pupils and staff, as well as school outcomes will be evaluated over the two years by Lancaster University’s The Work Foundation.

The school’s headteacher Rob Shadbolt said: “I believe that in order to provide the best education possible and help young people to be happy and successful, it is vital to consider the wellbeing of students and of staff too.

“Wood Green School and Nuffield Health will work together to create wellbeing programmes that develop both the mental and physical health of students and help them to make the most of their talents, enjoy learning and achieve even more.”

Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Nuffield Health’s medical director, wellbeing, said: “We see this pilot as an opportunity to change the way that schools approach health and wellbeing. A Head of Wellbeing can provide effective support and infrastructure, which has the potential to transform pupil and staff wellbeing. The outcomes over the two years will be invaluable in helping to shape the future of school wellbeing.”

The Work Foundation researcher Zofia Bajorek said: “By evaluating the Head of Wellbeing pilot alongside Nuffield Health, we have a real opportunity to improve our understanding of the link between the school environment and health and wellbeing, and to see where improvements can be made that will benefit the school population and the local community.”