Mental health

Six Steps to improve wellbeing in primary schools

A data-informed approach supported by new technology has been transformative for our staff and pupils

A data-informed approach supported by new technology has been transformative for our staff and pupils

11 Jun 2024, 5:00

The post-pandemic increase in mental health issues among children and young people is as well-documented as it is deeply worrying. Early intervention is critical, and one of my primary objectives has been to establish a comprehensive approach to pupil wellbeing.

Leveraging innovative technology is a key component of how we support our teachers to foster resilience and to empower pupils to manage stress.

One of the main challenges we were facing was with home-to-school transition, which was impacting the start of the school day. We’ve seen some great improvements for all, and one pupil in particular demonstrates the transformative power of our approach.

In just a few days, we went from school refusal and 45 minutes of teacher time each morning settling this very anxious child to the excitement of coming into school without difficulty.

Here are six steps we’ve taken to improve pupil wellbeing at our school:

Early intervention

We know that early help and intervention are essential and that timely support is vital, so we have taken steps to identify and address every child’s needs early on so that we can increase protective factors that positively influence wellbeing and decrease risk factors.

This includes pupil wellbeing meetings to identify low-level anxieties around transition, capturing those pupils with difficulties and cultivating a more personalised approach upon entering school.

Personalised support

We have fostered a school-wide appreciation and acceptance that we must understand each pupil’s wellbeing journey and its uniqueness. Therefore, we’ve developed a personalised approach to wellbeing support, and we now provide immediate support to pupils facing various challenges, empowering them to manage their emotions effectively.

This personalised support covers a wide range of strategies, including one-to-one support at difficult times, small roles of responsibility upon entering school, bespoke visuals and emotional support.

Data-informed practices

We prioritise data-informed decision-making to ensure the effectiveness of our wellbeing practices. Collecting and analysing pupil wellbeing data gives us valuable insights into trends, patterns, and areas requiring additional support.

This comprehensive view of pupil wellbeing allows us to tailor our interventions, allocate resources effectively and measure the impact of our efforts over time. The data we collect over time includes attendance, CPOMs, behaviour records and good day/bad day information.

Embracing technology

From NHS Mental Health support to innovative solutions like Lumii, technology is helping us to automatically tailor interventions and coping strategies to each child’s needs as well as create calmer classrooms and improve behaviour.

This approach has transformed outcomes for some of our pupils and acts as a strong foundation for our data-informed practice.

Children can access them daily and are offered bespoke time to consider their feelings on a range of issues (home and school). In a two-week window, every child in key stage 2 accesses the app which guides them through regulating their emotions, provides gentle and generic advice and allows us to better support them.

Empowering pupils

However, the point is not for pupils to become dependent on the technology or on us for support in the long term. Our aim is to prevent or minimise crises when we can, but also to empower pupils with self-regulation strategies.

We don’t always land on the right one first time, but by giving pupils a range of self-coping strategies, we gradually empower them to soothe and help themselves. Learning that their thoughts and behaviours can help them accept and manage their feelings is powerful knowledge at its best.

More than that, the approach encourages open dialogue, destigmatises mental health and offers valuable insights.

Track and trace

These valuable insights include the ability to track and monitor pupils’ overall wellbeing easily, which has been game-changing for teachers and pupils. But it goes much further than that; we can monitor other areas of pupil life too, like friendships, academic access, home, long-term worries, changes in life anxieties and more.

All of which has allowed us as a community to create calmer classrooms without increasing teacher workload. In fact, it has allowed adults to meet other needs and requirements by freeing them up from co-regulation first thing in the school day.

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