The importance of wellbeing is a growing focus for schools and young people, with children now experiencing mental health problems more common in classrooms. With this technology-reliant society, children are missing out on social activities and fresh air, potentially leading to a decline in their emotional wellbeing.
Traditionally, wellbeing was part of a teacher’s daily duty and all development of social, emotional and personal development was something that the teacher would be actively involved with. Their engagement with the pupils’ development was highly praised by pastoral care systems within the schools, a group whose purpose was the personal care and wellbeing of the pupils (known formally as a tutorial or guidance programme). In some cases, additional help from teaching assistants and psychological professionals would be required.
However, in more recent years, the role of a teacher has changed, now prioritising cognitive and academic development. The change was due to many factors, such as political movements which prioritise academic progression, ensuring teachers enable young people to achieve these goals.
A new workload agreement was put in place in January 2003, after concerns of teacher overload grew. Under this new agreement, all teachers would be expected to promote the safety and wellbeing of all pupils (especially when it came to the internet & social media), however, the transformation of the role put ‘core’ academic content first.
With mental health problems on the rise in modern school classrooms, more people have been pushing for children’s wellbeing and mental health to be put on the curriculum after the issues became more publicly discussed in the media. The decrease in outdoor activities could be leading to more widespread mental health problems, quickly making wellbeing and mindfulness a growing priority in the classroom. The goal is to increase the focus on common problems such as anxiety and depression in young people and support them so the problems don’t worsen over time. By breaking the stigma around mental health, young people can learn to understand and support others and become compassionate members of society. The inclusion of these programmes in schools shows children that their problems are being acknowledged and that they’re being listened to, with the offer of specialist support if necessary.
Schools consider social interaction an important factor in shaping a child’s life – aiming to also respect the emotional/mental health and wellbeing of each pupil. It is possible that children who experience bullying at school could see long-lasting effects on their wellbeing later in life. Bully victims are also more likely to be hyperactive and behavioural difficulties. To manage the growing need for wellbeing, some schools adapted discreet, school-based methods for meeting the wellbeing needs of pupils, either through targeted work with children already displaying problematic behaviour, one-on-one lessons, or school-wide changes.
There have been many wellbeing initiatives within the UK, including National Healthy Schools, Every Child Matters, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning and Targeted Mental Health in Schools – although these initiatives were argued to prioritise the added stress for meeting academic goals, as many of them would cause changes in the approaches to learning and the activities of classroom teachers.
School wellbeing focuses on:
- The child’s enjoyment of school.
- The child’s engagement within the school.
Studies have proved a positive link between enjoyment of school and the academic progression of that young person, but this varies per pupil and their individual situation.
Many schools now offer counselling to try and support pupils who are suffering from mental health, emotional, or behavioural difficulties, to give each child a fair chance at achieving throughout their education. Students who receive counselling are more likely to have increased well-being at school, often feeling safer, happier, and more confident. Some schools also offer specific wellbeing programmes to help young people manage, learn about, and control their levels of stress, and focus on their overall health, hoping to provide a positive attitude to all children and supporting them through their academic development.
Penstripe can now provide an eight page Student Wellbeing section for all Student Planners. We have worked closely with the team at Rainbow Education in the production of the section, ensuring that the interactive content really adds value to the conversation on mental health within schools. Please call 0113 231 0995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to our education team and see how your school can visibly provide an accessible student support system right from the pages of their Student Planners.