Questions for school governors to consider when developing and maintaining a mentally healthy school
These questions from Place2Be offer a guide for school governors in considering the different areas relevant when thinking with the headteacher and school leadership team about how to support them in developing their school’s mental health strategy. The questions are devised both to:
• Provoke governor’s understanding of mental themes relevant to the school community
• Enhance discussion between governors and the headteacher/ senior leadership team of the school in relation to the relevant themes
We’re working with Place2Be, the children’s mental health charity, to equip governors with the knowledge to make a positive impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing in schools.
When considering the different aspects relevant to the school’s mental health please hold in mind the following questions in relation to your role, and the governing body as a whole. The section in the latter part of the document relate specifically to the current pandemic situation.
- What are your values and why is this work important to you? How does this play into your role as governor in supporting the mental health of the school?
- What questions should you be asking your headteacher and Senior Leadership Team in helping to frame mental health provision across the school community?
- What do you think your school needs from you in relation to their mental health provision?
1. Understanding: What is mental health?
What are the main mental health issues faced by the community of your school (including staff and parents)?
- Are you aware of the risk and protective factors impacting on the mental health of individuals and the community as a whole?
- What are Adverse Childhood Experiences? Are you aware of their prevalence as well as the evidence in relation to these within the community that feeds into the school? What impact are they having on children and the functioning of the school as a whole?
- What is the cost associated with not investing in the mental health of those within your school?
- How would you describe the quality of working relationships across the school community?
- How does this fit with the school’s values?
4. Efficacy: Universal, additional and specialist support
- What provision is there to support the mental health of all children across the school?
- What systems of support are offered within the school for children with identified mental health needs? Are staff fully aware of how should be children referred into these systems?
- Does the school access other resources available within the community?
- Are referrals to specialist services such as CAMHS made?
5. Perspective: The bigger picture
- Are you aware of current educational trends; i.e. re teacher recruitment, retention, funding? What about statutory obligations; e.g. Ofsted, ISI?
- How do these inform your understanding of the mental wellbeing of the school?
6. Collaboration: Being a part of the mental health of the school
- How do you go about understanding the mental health of your school and its pupils? Do you visit? How often?
- How do you ensure as a governing body that you keep a student voice active in your discussions about the mental well-being of your school?
7. Support: What part can you play?
- What kind of supervision do staff receive in helping to process and understand the impact of the current trauma?
- What part does the governing board play in supporting the mental wellbeing and capacity of the headteacher? Has this been discussed within the governing board?
- Is there a governor dedicated to supporting the development of the school’s mental health strategy? If not, why not?
Questions you may want to think about in response to the pandemic
- What do you imagine it has been like for children and their parents to be away from school?
- What do you imagine it has been like for teachers managing their role through this time of collective trauma?
- What have you observed or others have observed on your return to school?
- What do you imagine will be the lasting impact of this trauma?
- What needs to happen to bring things back to normal, and how long will this take?
- What will the new ‘normal’ look like and feel like do you imagine?
- How are transitions across the school day managed differently following the return to school?
- What impact do you think this is having on children, staff and parents?
4. The impact of trauma
- What kind of dynamics across the stakeholders of the school (children, staff and parents) has the headteacher had to manage that are relevant to the mental health of the school?
- What additional support is being offered in this respect?