Nuffield Health has called for all secondary schools to appoint a “head of wellbeing” to support the emotional and physical health of both pupils and staff.

This follows the organisation’s involvement in a trial of the role in a secondary school in Oxfordshire during 2016/17 which demonstrated improved wellbeing of both pupils and staff, with the longer term aim of establishing healthy habits and behaviour. The pilot improved understanding of physical and mental health issues, enhanced pupils’ concentration in class, led to better diets and more energy, and improved relationships. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the programmes varied between the year groups and was not able to address more entrenched issues for staff such as wellbeing affected by workload pressures.

Since the role at this school was filled by a Nuffield Health worker, the organisation believes that the position should be taken by a dedicated health and wellbeing expert as a dedicated resource rather than simply being an extra duty for an already pressurised teacher.

During the pilot, the worker introduced healthier meals, promoting them through posters and changing the canteen layout, plus various dance and exercise classes and challenges in PE. A mentor scheme was introduced whereby trained sixth formers supported younger pupils. Other initiatives focused on issues such as alcohol, stress, bullying and smoking.

Last reviewed 4 December 2018