Pupils are happier and healthier when wellbeing is embedded in school life

Around two-thirds of primary schools and a third of secondary schools in Wales are very good at supporting pupils to be happy, healthy and safe, according to a report published by Estyn.

Most other schools strongly support pupils in several aspects, however, the work is not consistent enough across the whole school.

In the best schools, messages about health and wellbeing in lessons, assemblies and in policies are consistent with pupils’ everyday experience. Space to socialise, a nurturing culture, enjoyable opportunities to be physically active, timely pastoral care and positive work with parents are just some of the approaches that collectively ensure pupils become healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives.  

Claire Morgan, Strategic Director, says,

It’s vital that schools take a joined-up approach to supporting health and wellbeing across all aspects of school life. Schools should also prioritise strengthening relationships between teachers and pupils and pupils’ peer relationships as these are critical to mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The report highlights many good practice case studies, including secondary schools where pupils’ experience of health and wellbeing does not always match school messages. Eastern High School improved the leadership of the school which had a notably positive effect on the culture and support for pupils’ wellbeing. Their culture identifies that a teacher’s expertise lies in their understanding of how young people learn rather than simply their subject knowledge.

A nurturing culture, where positive relationships enable pupils to thrive is important to strengthen young people’s health and wellbeing. The report recommends that new teachers are trained to understand child and adolescent development and prepared to support pupils’ health and wellbeing.