Governors have a strategic role, so they’re crucial in helping a school focus on mental health and wellbeing when it really matters. While governors can’t offer hands-on support, the governing board can make sure there are structures in place so that children’s and staff’s mental health is looked after in schools.
The return to school post lockdown
Schools are focusing on mental health and wellbeing during the first term of school post-lockdown.
No child’s experience of lockdown will be the same, and it’s important to keep an open mind about what children and young people have been through during the last few months. Governors must understand that children have different coping mechanisms and varying levels of resilience when it comes to readjusting.
Keep in mind during the autumn term that no one has experienced this before. Headteachers and school staff are learning on the job, and while the workload may get easier as the term goes on, leaders will still need support from governors.
Long term effects of lockdown
We don’t know what the effects of lockdown on children and young people will be in the long term.
But governors can make sure mental health and wellbeing is being monitored – as existing mental health problems and safeguarding concerns still exist. Governors should be assured that the school is noting any concerning behaviour and isn’t overlooking signs of something more serious as part of a child’s response to lockdown.
This could include things like a change in a child’s mood or tiredness that lasts longer than a few days, a significant change in weight, or angry outbursts that seem out of character.
Keeping mental health on the agenda
We’re all looking forward to the days when Coronavirus doesn’t dominate every aspect of life. The changes that children and young people have experienced this year could have a long-lasting effect, so it’s important that schools keep mental health and wellbeing front of mind. How can governors support this?
- Ask questions about wellbeing provision
Use our sample questions about monitoring wellbeing to guide your conversations around mental health and wellbeing provision in your school.
- Offer support to school leaders
Headteachers and school leaders are working through what is likely to be the most challenging time of their career, so they’ll need support from their governing board. It’s time to think less about the ‘challenge’ aspect of your role as a governor, and more about what you can do to take pressure off the headteacher and other school staff.
- Keep up to date with government guidance
Read and download our questions about monitoring wellbeing provision in your school.