Showcase your provision for Estyn
The Estyn framework requires Estyn inspectors to routinely assess and report on pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.
Estyn is the education and training inspectorate for Wales. It is responsible for inspecting all schools and training facilities, from nursery schools to adult community learning schemes. Estyn will inspect all schools and training providers at least once between 2016 and 2023, although this is currently suspended due to COVID-19.
Estyn uses a common inspection framework to assess schools and further education settings. There are four overall judgements that it can reach about settings:
- Adequate and needs improvement
- Unsatisfactory and needs urgent improvement
The Esytn inspection framework is built around five key areas:
- Wellbeing and attitudes to learning
- Teaching and learning experiences
- Care, support and guidance
- Leadership and management
Things schools and further education settings can do
- Develop a whole-school approach: whole-school participation is vital. Support from leadership teams, prioritisation of pupil voice and involving parents and carers is key.
- Assess your existing provision: it’s important to regularly evaluate and assess your settings’s current performance, as well as action planning for improvement.
- Staff induction, training and supervision: high-quality training and support should be available both for senior leaders and for the broader staff team. This website can be a useful tool for staff induction and continuous professional development.
- Prioritise pupil voices: putting children and young people 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 or setting and its approach to wellbeing. Find out more about how to do this.
- 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.
Link with external support: good links with external mental health support are important. This could include links with your local CAMHS, counselling providers or other organisations in your area. Find out more about how to find these services local to you.
Practical steps to take
Estyn’s Happy and Healthy report is full of useful information on how to adopt a successful whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing. The report lists a number of things that schools with a whole-school approach to pupils’ mental health and wellbeing have. We have included these below, along with some of our practical suggestions on how to implement them in your school.
- policies and practices that ensure pupils make good progress in their learning
- leaders who ‘walk the talk’ about supporting pupils’ health and wellbeing, including:
- leaders who regularly interact with pupils in a friendly, warm manner
- a nurturing culture, where positive relationships enable pupils to thrive, for example:
- encouraging children and young people to speak to teachers about concerns about their own or friends’ mental wellbeing
- a buddy scheme which pairs up pupils who are new to the school with older pupils
- an inclusive community and ethos
- detailed knowledge about pupils’ health and wellbeing that influences policies and actions and policy, for example:
- running a regular pupil wellbeing survey to keep track of how children/young people in the school are feeling, identifying any children in need of particular assistance or any key issues children/young people in the school are facing
- an environment and facilities that promote good health and wellbeing, including:
- space to play, socialise and relax at break times
- a ‘safe space’ where pupils can go if they feel overwhelmed
- a broad and balanced curriculum, that includes discrete, evidence-based learning experiences that promote health and wellbeing
- supportive pastoral care and targeted interventions for pupils that need additional support, for example:
- providing an in-school counsellor or access to counselling services
- having an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA)
- effective links with external agencies, for example:
- local specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
- the broader range of local support services
- close partnerships with parents and carers, for example:
- inviting parents into the school or setting regularly to attend events
- running after-school activities for parents and children to attend together, like healthy cooking workshops or book clubs
- continuing professional learning for all staff that enables them to support pupils’ health and wellbeing
These are just some suggestions for practical changes schools can try. You can find lots more practical examples of how schools have implemented a whole-school approach to wellbeing in Esytn’s school case studies.
Assess 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.