Preparing for school inspections
The 'how good is our school?' (HGIOS) framework that Education Scotland uses to inspect schools includes mental health and wellbeing as a focus.
Education Scotland is responsible for inspecting all schools and early learning and childcare (ELC) establishments in Scotland. Education Scotland does not work on an inspection cycle, inspecting all schools every few years. Instead, it uses a sampling model, inspecting around 250 schools and ELCs each year.
The framework that Education Scotland uses to assess schools is called How good is our school? (HGIOS), which is now on its fourth edition. The framework is structured around quality indicators which schools can use to support their ongoing self-evaluation.
HGIOS approach to wellbeing
Section 3.1 of the HGIOS framework focuses specifically on wellbeing, although wellbeing is threaded throughout the rest of the framework too.
In section 3.1, Education Scotland lays out what it suggests are features of highly effective practice:
- The whole learning community has a shared understanding of wellbeing and the children’s rights.
- All stakeholders promote a climate where children and young people feel safe and secure.
- All staff and partners model behaviour which promotes and supports the wellbeing of all.
- All staff and partners are sensitive and responsive to the wellbeing of each individual child and colleague.
- Staff, children and young people know, understand and use the wellbeing indicators as an integral feature of school life.
- Staff and partners have created an environment where children and young people feel listened to and are secure in their ability to discuss personal and sensitive aspects of their lives because they feel cared about.
- All staff and partners take due account of the legislative framework related to wellbeing, equality and inclusion.
- All staff engage in regular professional learning to ensure they are fully up-to-date with local, national and, where appropriate, international legislation affecting the rights, wellbeing and inclusion of all children and young people.
- The curriculum provides children and young people with well-planned and progressive opportunities to explore diversity and multi-faith issues, and to challenge racism and religious intolerance.
- Children and young people are knowledgeable about equalities and inclusion. They feel able to challenge discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance when they come across it.
- Outdoor spaces are used effectively to promote positive relationships and wellbeing. Staff take account of research linking benefits of outdoor learning and green space with wellbeing.
Things schools can do
The most important thing schools can do to meet the aims of this framework is to develop a whole-school approach to mental health. This means that all parts of the school community – senior leaders, teachers, parent councils, pupils, parents, carers and the wider community – should all be involved.
- Evaluate your existing provision: it’s important to regularly evaluate and assess your school’s current performance and pupils’ wellbeing, as well as action planning for improvement.
- Staff induction, professional learning and supervision: high-quality training and support should be available both for school leaders and for the broader staff team. Options could include SAMH’s free e-learning module for teachers, Mental Health First Aid for Young People CPD, Place2Be’s Mental Health Champions: School Leaders training, or you could speak to your local authority to see if they have any preferred training providers. This website can also be a useful tool for staff induction and continuous professional development.
- Prioritise pupil voices: putting children at the heart of any whole-school approach to mental health is key. Find out more about how to do this.
- Involve parents and carers: Parents and carers should feel engaged with the school and its approach to wellbeing. Find out more about how to do this.
- Link with external support: good links with external mental health support are important. This could include links with your local CAHMS, counselling providers or other organisations in your area. Find out more about how to find these services local to you.
- Support staff wellbeing: a mentally healthy school looks after the wellbeing of both pupils and staff. Giving staff the right mental health support will enable them to support their pupils in turn. Find out more about how to do this.
Evaluate your current provision
Know your starting point and your end goal before you begin.
Support staff with their own wellbeing, and train them to successfully look after their pupils’ wellbeing too.
Make sure children are heard
An inclusive school culture that prioritises pupils’ voices is key.