Audit, improvement and strategy

An effective school improvement plan involves governors, senior managers, parents/carers, staff, pupils and other school community members working together to establish priorities, set goals for improvement, implement strategies to achieve those goals and evaluate progress.

The objective is to improve student achievement levels by creating a positive, nurturing and supportive school environment, minimising barriers to learning such as risk factors and poor mental health, enhancing the way the curriculum is delivered and increasing the degree to which parents are involved in their children’s learning at school and in the home.

Find out more about the audit

  • Leadership and management: What is the school’s vision and strategic direction in terms of mental health and wellbeing and how effective is it? How is the school providing visible senior leadership for emotional health and wellbeing? How well is mental health and wellbeing referenced and integrated within the school’s strategic priorities, goals, aims and policies and practice?
  • School ethos: How does the school’s culture promote respect and value diversity? How are staff already supporting children’s mental health through day-to-day contact and through building a sense of belonging
  • Curriculum teaching and learning: What focus is given across the curriculum to social and emotional learning and promoting resilience? Is it sufficiently intensive and ongoing with learning goals and themes being reinforced and threaded throughout the curriculum?
  • Enabling pupil voice: How are pupils involved and listened to? What does the school do to encourage children to talk about how they feel? What is the school doing to give children the skills to know how and when to ask for help?
  • Staff development, health and wellbeing: How confident do staff feel in identifying children’s needs early and mobilising protective factors for children at risk of poor mental health? How much does professional and personal development focus on mental health and wellbeing?
  • Identifying need and monitoring impact: How is the school assessing the needs of all pupils; the progress of those who need support, and the difference made by programmes/interventions being used to improve mental health and wellbeing? Is the school building on data collected as part of the school health profile, analysing needs of children and families?
  • Working with parents/carers: How does the school engage with and work with parents and carers to reduce risks and de-escalate needs?
  • Targeted support and appropriate referral: How do staff identify and support or refer children who may need extra help at an early stage? See our sections on risks and protective factors and mental health needs.


  • In addition to these core principles, schools also need to review how much current in-school and community support is meeting children and families’ needs. How are patterns of unmet need being logged, collated and communicated to senior leadership and local commissioners? Liaison with school nurses, who are tasked with capturing service gaps, may also help the process of influencing local commissioning.

There is further information on these core principles in Public Health England’s guidance on ‘promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing: a whole school and college approach’

Other useful information

There are a number of other documents to help develop a mental health and wellbeing audit, including:

The audit - roles and responsibilities

A mental health and wellbeing audit should:

School improvement planning

Based on the findings of the audit and consultation, senior leadership can:


Promoting children’s mental health and wellbeing policy

Once a school has audited its whole-school approach to supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing, and developed an improvement and action plan, it will then need to make sure that it develops a mental health and wellbeing policy and reviews it regularly so that it remains a live document responsive to evolving needs and strategic and operational changes at school.

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