Governors and trustees

School governors and trustees oversee the success of their school(s) and are often responsible for large numbers of pupils and significant budgets.

School governing boards have three main functions:

  • provide clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • hold senior leaders to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; as well as the performance management of staff
  • oversee the financial performance of the school and make sure money is spent in the most effective way.

Governors and trustees play a key role in making sure that school policies, procedures and decisions are made in the interest of pupils, their parents and carers, as well as staff. They also monitor the progress made by school leaders in achieving the agreed vision for the school.

Supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools

Governing bodies of maintained schools have a duty to promote wellbeing. In schools in England this is through:

  • physical and mental health, and emotional wellbeing
  • protection from harm and neglect
  • education, training and recreation
  • the contribution children make to society
  • social and economic wellbeing.

While guidelines differ for maintained schools and academies, governors and trustees can support pupil mental health and wellbeing by working with school management to:

  • review and develop the existing school vision, goals, strategies and improvement plan to make sure that pupil and staff mental health and wellbeing represents an integral part of strategic and operational practice
  • share the initial vision for school mental health and wellbeing and build on it through consultation with staff, pupils, parents and carers
  • inspire all those people who must work together to evolve, develop and implement this vision and the curriculum for pupils
  • implement a process of improvement and help with the development of ongoing priorities to support children’s wellbeing and achievement in school
  • measure impact of targets for change and refine strategic planning based on findings
  • make sure that supporting mental health and wellbeing remains a collective responsibility.

Top tips

Involve pupils and develop policies

Listen to the views of pupils and involve them in decision making. Work with them to design policies that promote good behaviour and discipline.

Hold headteachers to account

Review exclusion decisions where appropriate and make sure exclusions are done in line with the legal requirements.

Make schools accessible to all

Develop an accessibility strategy to improve the physical environment of the school for pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

Induction and training

All governors and trustees need to have initial induction training as well as ongoing updates on key developments affecting pupil’s and staff’s mental health and wellbeing.

Mentally Healthy Schools may provide a useful induction tool for understanding the importance of links between children and families’ wellbeing, children’s ability to achieve in school, and what works to promote and support children’s mental health and academic success. Find out more:

Related resources

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Guidance for school governors

Governors and trustees have a key role in the mental health and wellbeing of pupils.

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Guidance for governors

Guidance for governors

Guidance for governors’ adopting the mental health and wellbeing role in schools.

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  • Milton Keynes Council

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Emotional health and wellbeing framework for schools

Emotional health and wellbeing framework for schools

This framework has a useful traffic light system to identify strengths and weaknesses in...

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  • Brighton and Hove City Council

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SEND governor responsibilities

SEND governor responsibilities

A checklist showing the annual range of SEND governor responsibilities.

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Video on governing body and SEND

Video on governing body and SEND

A 4-minute video on the annual cycle of SEND review and the responsibility of governors for SEND...

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