What’s better in a school – a free fitness facility or an employee dedicated to “wellbeing”?
In the case of a new scheme created by Nuffield Health, schools won’t have to choose, they could get both.
The not-for-profit health organisation has asked willing secondaries to apply for a pilot scheme in which one selected school will receive a fully-equipped state-of-the-art fitness facility and have a wellbeing strategy planned and led by a seconded “head of wellbeing”.
Nuffield Health will lead, fund and evaluate the two-year initiative. Schools need to have an Ofsted rating of “requires improvement” or better to take part.
Speaking about the initiative, Ruth Holden, principal at Bonus Pastor Catholic College in Bromley, Kent, said: “The opportunity for a school to work on this initiative would bring much needed investment and expertise.
“The creation of a tailored strategy that would be managed and coordinated by a head of wellbeing would bring together all that we currently do in this area, which would make a huge difference within our local school community.”
The pilot comes at a time when mental health and wellbeing is much debated in education.
A recent 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.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, the minister of state for care and support, told Schools Week that the Department of Health expect to publish a new survey in 2017.
Conservative MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the health select committee, has also offered support for the Nuffield programme.
“Young people who are experiencing mental health problems benefit from support at the earliest opportunity.
“It is vital too, to focus on prevention and wellbeing and I am delighted to support this pilot of a head of wellbeing in schools, as it has the potential to benefit staff and pupils alike.”
To be in with a shot, applicants must provide a clear view of current wellbeing-activities at their school and describe how these could be built on. They also must say how the proposal would benefit the whole school community and their application must have the full support of senior leadership.
Dr Andrew Jones, Nuffield Health’s managing director, said: “We are looking for a school to take part in our pilot who shares our vision for a healthy, productive and creative environment.
“This initiative has the potential to transform wellbeing in schools, by providing effective support and infrastructure, setting a benchmark for UK primary and secondary schools to aspire to.”
An independent evaluation of the pilot will be carried out by the Work Foundation, a provider of research-based analysis, when it concludes in 2017.
The closing date for applicants is April 17 and the winner will be notified by June 1.
You can apply at www.nuffieldhealth.com/school.