Senior leadership team

The leadership of the head teacher and the board of governors is vital for driving improvements.

However, for change to be effectively implemented it will require a commitment to whole-school mental health and wellbeing by the entire senior leadership team (SLT), who have a crucial role to play.

This includes making sure that:

  • The caring ethos of the school is given a practical focus and is evident throughout the school
  • The school improvement plan.
  • They understand the links between learning and staff and child mental health.
  • They are alert to opportunities both within their area/s of responsibility but also across the school where mental health and wellbeing can be developed and promoted.
  • They work with, and consult staff, pupils and their families to build a sense of community.

SLT roles and responsibilities

Children’s mental health and wellbeing should be a core thread running through all school activities and clearly link with whole-school priorities.

However, some SLT members will inevitably have much closer responsibilities for the day-to-day management of issues linked to mental health and wellbeing. This might include:

  • The SEND lead will have a critical role to play in making sure that children with special educational needs and disabilities receive the graduated support they need. Because of the overlap between SEND and child mental health needs, the SEND lead will also have an important strategic role.
  • The designated senior safeguarding lead (DSL) will be overseeing a considerable crossover of roles and responsibilities between safeguarding risks in families and children’s mental health and wellbeing.
  • Some schools may have a pastoral lead role at SLT level. Traditionally the brief of school pastoral care has been broader than just mental health and wellbeing, but these roles increasingly include coordinating and providing pupil support and liaison with external services.
  • Some schools have introduced a specific mental health lead, something that is likely to be further encouraged through a recent (2017) government green paper (see below). In addition, some larger schools have created a discrete staff team (including pastoral lead and/or SEND and/or mental health lead) to strengthen their schools’ capacity to manage mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health leads in schools

A recent (2017) government green paper 'transforming children and young people's mental health provision' proposes that every school and college be encouraged to appoint a designated lead for mental health by 2025. This lead will be a trained member of staff who will be a key part of a package of measures to embed mental health in different aspects of school life.

Find out more about mentally healthy schools


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A self-assessment tool for aspiring school leaders

A self-assessment tool for aspiring school leaders

A Canadian organisation's self-assessment tool for aspiring school leaders.

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  • The Institute for Educational Leadership

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Whole-school framework for mental health

Whole-school framework for mental health

A whole-school framework for emotional wellbeing and mental health: a self-assessment and...

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  • National Children's Bureau

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