primary & secondary education

Supporting Independent School Pupils’ Mental Wellbeing

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 15:50

Thursday 4 April 2019

Congress Centre, Central London


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
  • Dr Libby Artingstall, Co-Founder & Director, Team Mental Health and Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist
  • Becky Vernon, Head of Wellbeing, Woodhouse Grove School
  • Rebecca Glover, Principal, Surbiton High School
  • Suzie Longstaff, Headteacher, Putney High School
  • Judy Piercey, Director of Pastoral Care, Francis Holland School
  • Andy Woodward, Deputy Head of Senior School and Pastoral Lead, Harrodian School
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Dr Amelia Roberts, Deputy Director, Centre for Inclusion Education and Lead,  Supporting Wellbeing, Emotional Resilience & Learning (SWERL) Programme, University College London (UCL) (CONFIRMED)  


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: 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)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Taking a Holistic 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

Becky Vernon, Head of Wellbeing, Woodhouse Grove School (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Collaborating 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

Neil Henderson, Chief Executive, Safeline (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Providing an Outstanding Wellbeing Programme Across the Curriculum

  • Designing a Charter for Wellbeing, which aims to empower pupils to identify for themselves how they can develop and enhance their own personal development
  • Examining the SurbitonCOPE (SCOPE) programme, which brings the whole school together to focus on personal development through a series of events, assemblies and talks
  • Outlining the PERMA approach to wellbeing, which focuses on the five areas of positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning and accomplishment
  • Understanding the crucial role that extra-curricular activities play in enhancing pupil wellbeing, by raising self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety and promoting healthier lifestyles
  • Exploring the school’s commitment to enhancing wellbeing through co-curricular activities, with the ‘Sporting Choice for All’ programme, which encourages all pupils to become involved in sport, offering 80 sports clubs a week

Rebecca Glover, Principal, Surbiton High School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Understanding the Importance of a Whole School Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • Outlining the workplace challenges associated with mental health problems
  • Understanding the importance of a whole organisation approach which aligns the mental health of staff and young people
  • Considering how to embed a proactive, preventative school culture

Dr Libby Artingstall, Co-Founder & Director, Team Mental Health and Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Developing a Culture of Growth Mindset to Support Pupil Wellbeing

  • Understanding the theory of growth mindset, which argues that ‘intelligence’, ability and performance can always be improved
  • Discussing how providing a culture of growth mindset throughout the school can improve pupil wellbeing, for example by reinforcing a more positive outlook and the ability to embrace failure and learn from it
  • Considering how a culture of growth mindset can be embedded into schools, for example through assembles, teacher INSET days, focus groups and targeted vocabulary
  • Outlining how promoting growth mindset has had a positive impact on pupil welfare and outcomes

Andy Woodward, Deputy Head of Senior School and Pastoral Lead, Harrodian School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Taking an Innovative Approach to Improve Pupil Wellbeing

  • Examining the innovative app launched by Putney High School, designed to improve mental health and wellbeing among pupils helping them to deal with stress and anxiety
  • Outlining how students use an emotional barometer to rate their moods daily, alongside an ‘inner coach’ and a ‘worry filter’, which helps pupils to focus better
  • Discussing how teachers interact through the app to create a positive environment for pupils, by posting positive videos, podcasts and messages on the app news feed
  • Highlighting how a version of the app has been extended to parents, wherein they are taught about psychology and how to be open about mental health with their daughters, and considering the importance of parent interaction to improve pupil wellbeing
  • Considering the impact this innovative approach has had on pupils’ wellbeing through increasing awareness of mental health, creating a positive and open environment to discuss issues and teaching pupils to become involved in their own wellbeing

Suzie Longstaff, Headteacher, Putney High School (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Embedding a Culture of Wellbeing Across the Whole School

  • Embedding mindfulness into the PSHE curriculum and discussing how this has resulted in improvement in pupils’ concentration and focus, the ability to cope with stress and tackled sleep problems
  • Providing an outstanding pastoral care system, including drop-in counselling and learning support for students who are vulnerable to mental health issues
  • Holding a week centered around activities which promote ‘thinking innovatively’ for pupils, including forensic testing and working with architects, and how this improves pupil wellbeing
  • Sharing resources and lesson plans which effectively teach wellbeing in an age appropriate way

Judy Piercey, Director of Pastoral Care, Francis Holland School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

 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.


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