primary & secondary education

Supporting Independent School Pupils’ Mental Wellbeing

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 15:40

Thursday 4 April 2019

Central London

Early Bird Discount Offer

10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.


This forum will examine the new measures designed to improve children and young people’s mental wellbeing and explore how to implement these effectively in independent schools. Participants will hear from leading policy experts on promoting greater wellbeing in schools, training staff to support pupils and taking a preventative approach to pupil wellbeing. In addition, best practice case studies will share innovative methods and resources designed to improve student mental wellbeing and develop a whole-school approach to pupil resilience.


This forum is specifically designed for the independent school sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Headmistresses
  • Headmasters
  • Deputy Heads of Pastoral
  • Heads of Pupil Wellbeing
  • Senior Deputy Heads
  • Governors
  • Teachers
  • Deputy Heads & Assistant Heads
  • School Counselors
  • School Nurses
  • Educational Psychologists
  • Inclusion Managers
  • Heads of House

This forum is also open to the voluntary sector to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Rhiannon Williams, Deputy Chief Inspector, Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
  • Robin Fletcher, CEO, Boarding Schools Association
View the agenda and additional speakers


One in ten children and young people aged between 5 and 16 are classified as having a diagnosable mental health problem, according to the Mental Health Foundation: a number that is expected to be far less than the actual amount.

In December 2017, the government released the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper, which proposes a number of significant changes to the way that mental health services are provided for children and young people. Proposals include creating a new workforce of community-based mental health support teams, a designated lead for mental health within every school and college, and a new 4 week waiting time for NHS children’s and young people’s mental health services.

Although initiatives outlined in the Green Paper do not necessarily apply to independent schools, pupil mental wellbeing is an area that the HMC have been working on since 2015. As outlined by the ISI in their statement on the Green Paper, it will be of interest to independent schools who have faced challenges in supporting young people to access help to incorporate initiatives into their school’s wellbeing strategy.

The first data on mental health trends in independent schools, published by the HMC in 2015, highlighted that concerns over pupil wellbeing was increasing. 87% of schools reported depression as a concern and 85% reported that eating disorders were a worry. This demonstrates that pupil wellbeing is also a prevalent issue among independent schools and highlights the urgent need for steps to be taken to enhance wellbeing.

The independent schools sector has responded to this by promoting greater discussion around pupil wellbeing, improving pastoral care systems and implementing initiatives designed to build emotional resilience. More than 80% of HMC boarding schools and 65% of day schools now have in-house counselling services.

With shocking figures coming to light demonstrating the crisis of children and young people’s mental health in the UK, and the role that schools can play in supporting pupil wellbeing now in the national spotlight, it is imperative that independent schools are implementing effective pupil wellbeing strategies in their school. This will require developing innovative initiatives to support pupils, training staff to identify and tackle mental health issues and working in partnership with the voluntary sector to raise awareness among pupils, staff and parents.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Dr Andy Cope, Founder, Art of Brilliance (invited)

Dr Andy Cope is the author of ‘The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager’ and ‘The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence’


Morning Keynote: Inspecting Pupil Mental Wellbeing in Independent Schools

  • Outlining the role that pupil wellbeing plays in the inspection framework
  • Discussing how the ISI assesses pastoral care and pupils’ personal development
  • Sharing best practice in excelling at promoting mental well-being of pupils and discussing what schools can do to improve this

Rhiannon Williams, Deputy Chief Inspector, Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Supporting Staff to Improve Pupil Wellbeing in Independent Schools

  • Outlining why mental health in independent schools is important and why it should be recognized on par with academic performance
  • Exploring the current landscape of mental health provision in independent schools and highlighting areas of improvement
  • Supporting teachers in their professional development to ensure that they are adequately trained and feel able to support pupils in their wellbeing, address sensitive topics and recognise warning signs as early as possible
  • Considering how teachers can help students to manage their stress, particularly during exam season
  • Discussing challenges faced by students at particular times of the year, such as during exam season

Matthew Adshead, Chair, Independent Schools Association (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Taking a Whole-School Approach to Promoting Student Mental Wellbeing

  • Creating the Hub, a pupil run drop in centre which provides a supportive and comfortable environment for students to voice concerns, and discussing how peer support breaks down barriers and stigma
  • Establishing a school wide culture wherein all staff and students recognise wellbeing as a responsibility and incorporating the views of parents, students and staff into wellbeing policy
  • Outlining the essential role of well-trained and high-quality learning support and pastoral teams in providing effective and accessible support
  • Examining the Student Support Alphabet, an online resource which offers 24/7 accessible advice to pupils on a range of topics which affect wellbeing

Rebecca Vernon, Head of Wellbeing, Woodhouse Grove School (invited)


Case Study: Implementing an Innovative Approach to Raise Awareness of Mental Health and Promote Wellbeing

  • Examining the school’s Spotlight on Happiness campaign: an online public video resource, designed to raise awareness and understanding of mental wellbeing among young people and adults
  • Outlining the role community outreach can play in enhancing pupil wellbeing, for example by mentoring vulnerable children in special schools: encouraging social interaction, boosting self-confidence and balancing school life
  • Tailoring teaching to individual pupil needs and interests and outlining the role of good parent-pupil relationships in improving pupil wellbeing
  • Leading Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) seminars and CPD sessions for educators across the region to ensure that staff are effectively trained to support pupil wellbeing

Simon Hinchliffe, Headmaster, Bradford Grammar School (invited)


Case Study: Working in Partnership with the Voluntary Sector to Enhance Mental Health Strategies in Independent Schools

  • Outlining the innovative partnership between Solihull school and the mental health charity Safeline, and discussing how the voluntary sector can help tackle mental health problems earlier in childhood
  • Examining initiatives implemented in partnership with Safeline to improve wellbeing, such as the appointment of a professional support worker to develop a mental health and wellbeing strategy
  • Outlining how Safeline provided resilience training for staff, parents and pupils
  • Implementing a specialist counselling service which is tailored to meet the individual needs of pupils
  • Discussing how Safeline led a workshop for parents to inform them on wellbeing topics, such as theories of mental wellbeing, spotting the signs of mental health issues and the balance between good and bad stress
  • Encouraging staff to attend a mental health first aid course, which trains them to identify and support young people at risk of mental health issues

Louise Rooney, Head of Wellbeing and Character, Solihull School and Neil Henderson, Chief Executive, Safeline (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Special Keynote: Providing Outstanding Mental Health Provision Across Boarding Schools

  • Considering how mental health provision in boarding schools is delivered differently than day schools, for example by providing 24/7 care and more interaction with pupils
  • Discussing how boarding schools are in a unique position to support mental wellbeing and offering a supportive, understanding day-to-day environment
  • Providing numerous support services to pupils including school nurses, counselors and direct access to other mental health practitioners
  • Examining the relationship between physical health and mental wellbeing, and ensuring schools are providing pupils with a balanced, nutritious diet and a range of extra-curricular activities

Robin Fletcher, CEO, Boarding Schools Association (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Understanding the Importance of Early Intervention: Taking a Preventative Approach to Pupil Wellbeing

  • Outlining the main drivers of poor mental health among children and young people, such as social media and academic performance
  • Understanding how preventative measures can be taken to reduce child mental health concerns, such as through adopting a trauma informed approach to support vulnerable young people
  • Supporting school professionals to identify mental health concerns among pupils, such as through the online learning sessions MindEd, and supporting early intervention
  • Promoting a person-centered approach to mental health tailored to meet children’s needs and empower young people to become involved in their own wellbeing
  • Outlining the importance of skills such as resilience, reflection and self-esteem in promoting greater wellbeing and simultaneously increasing attainment

Dr Marc Bush, Director of Evidence and Policy, YoungMinds (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Improving Pupil Wellbeing Through a Rich, Diverse Extra-Curricular Schedule

  • Discussing how providing an extensive and varied extra-curricular schedule can improve pupil wellbeing by boosting self-esteem, promoting positive experience and a healthy lifestyle
  • Ensuring a balanced curriculum, with a timetable of ‘skills-based’ activities, from conservation to pilates, and outlining how this can reduce academic stress and increase motivation
  • Outlining how external trips, such as football in Iceland and skiing in Harrow can enhance the emotional, personal and social development of pupils

Katharine Haynes, Headteacher, John Lyon School (invited)


Case Study: Effectively Embedding Wellbeing into the Curriculum

  • Examining the school’s wellbeing programme, which is taught once a week and embedded into the curriculum
  • Incorporating a broad range of topics into the curriculum including healthy lifestyles, coping with stress and anxiety, study skills, tolerance and discrimination, peer pressure and mindfulness
  • Sharing resources and lesson plans which effectively teach wellbeing in an age appropriate way
  • Discussing the initiatives Cheltenham Ladies College implemented to promote better wellbeing among pupils, including weekly meditation classes and giving pupils twice as long to walk between classes

Eve Jardine-Young, Principal, Cheltenham Ladies College (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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