Showcasing activity for Ofsted
Ofsted is responsible for the inspection of maintained and academy schools in England, and around half of independent schools. It also inspects other services against relevant inspection frameworks, including childcare, social care and further education.
In September 2015, a new common inspection framework was introduced to cover early years’ providers, state-funded schools, some independent schools and further education and skills providers in England.
There are four overall judgements that Ofsted can reach about schools:
- Requires improvement
Inadequate is further subdivided into two categories: Serious weaknesses or Requiring special measures.
From 2015, the Ofsted framework requires Ofsted inspectors to routinely assess and report on pupils’ mental health and wellbeing under the key judgement area of personal development, behaviour and welfare. This includes aspects such as attendance, managing feelings and behaviour, keeping healthy and safe, promoting tolerance and respect, as well as spiritual, moral, social and cultural education (SMSC) and fundamental British values (FBV).
What does it look like in practice?
Ofsted will want to understand how all schools:
- Lead and develop a whole-school approach to support mental health and wellbeing.
- Monitor whole-school, PSHE and other strategies and activities that contribute to improvement priorities.
- Use approaches and activities, structures and staff within the school to promote the personal development, behaviour and the welfare of children. For example:
- Promoting ‘breadth and balance’ in the wider school curriculum, including using PSHE and other strategies (e.g. nurture groups) to support social and emotional skills and broader mental health and wellbeing.
- Using staff and peer relationships, school nurses (where available) and SEND support to help children thrive and achieve.
- Develop in-school support strategies e.g. buddy systems or mentors.
- Have developed links to external support services via other agencies such as local specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and the broader range of local support services such as early help or voluntary sector organisations.
- Support the needs of particular groups or individual children and their families, including pupils facing greater disadvantage who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), looked after children, those with medical needs and those with mental health needs.
- Manage risks such as bullying and ‘discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour’.
If schools are routinely tracking the level of behavioural and emotional difficulties in their school, measuring the impact of strategies or providing in-school counselling, they may want to highlight these activities and support systems to Ofsted as part of any inspection.
Inspectors will also assess the way in which newly qualified teachers are inducted, mentored and developed – particularly in dealing with behaviour.
In order for schools to gain Good status, students must ‘enjoy learning how to stay healthy and about emotional and mental health and positive relationships’. Outstanding schools enable students to ‘make informed choices about healthy eating, fitness and their emotional and mental wellbeing’.
References to whole-school approaches to emotional wellbeing in reports for outstanding schools include the following:
Inspectors found the school to have developed a wide range of provision aimed at promoting positive mental health and overall pupil well-being.
Ensuring the highest levels of care and welfare to promote the well-being of all pupils, regardless of their background, is at the heart of everything you and your staff do.
All staff give a high priority to providing pupils with skills that enhance their emotional well-being, so that they can learn well from the minute they begin their school day.
How can you work towards it?
Staff induction, training and supervision: high-quality training and support should be available both for school leaders and for the broader staff team. This mentally healthy schools website is a useful tool for staff induction and continuous professional development.
Ongoing and effective school self-evaluation: involving regular reflective evaluation and assessment of a school’s performance, as well as action planning for improvement. A living, breathing school self-evaluation report (SEF), with outcomes and evidence routinely gathered as part of school action planning can also be a useful tool to showcase what a school is doing to support children’s, parents’/carers’, and staff’s mental health and wellbeing.
Monitoring outcomes: A range of validated tools can also help measure mental health and wellbeing amongst the pupil population. This, in turn, will help school leaders make use of their data to identify the mental health and wellbeing needs of their pupils and determine how best to address these.
Make sure children are heard.
Strong and inclusive pupil voice is paramount.
Induct and train ALL staff.
Everyone should understand their part in building pupils’ resilience and how to spread a positive culture throughout the school.
When seeking to support the personal development, behaviour and welfare of children, consider how the school might measure and track pupils’ starting points and their outcomes to show what it is doing is effective.
Don’t forgot about the wellbeing of staff!
Supporting staff wellbeing is integral to positive culture change.