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Nuffield Health leads calls for ‘head of wellbeing’ in every secondary school

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Every UK secondary school should appoint a ‘head of wellbeing’ tasked with improving the physical and mental health of students and teachers, according to Nuffield Health and think tank 2020health.

The two organisations have joined forces to produce new research (published today) which outlines how low levels of exercise and poor emotional wellbeing could be improved through the creation of such a position. Backed with adequate resources, the head of wellbeing, they say, would be able to foster coordinated support in the school setting.

In light of the findings, Nuffield Health has committed to leading, evaluating and funding what is thought to be the first ever pilot of a head of wellbeing in a UK secondary school. The pilot will include the development of a health and wellbeing programme, designed to meet the needs of the local area.

“The head of wellbeing role will provide much needed support to Head Teachers to engage with pupils and staff, not just about physical wellbeing but also emotional wellbeing,” said Nuffield Health chief executive David Mobbs.

“We are calling on secondary schools across the country to sit up and take note of the wellbeing of their staff and pupils. This is why we are leading a new pilot to identify the benefits this role would have on the whole-school.”

As part of the project, 2020health held workshops within a number of schools to engage with staff and pupils alike. The feedback received outlined a clear need to raise wellbeing support within the whole school community and place more of a focus on physical activity and nutrition.

Similarly, the research highlighted a need for greater focus on mental wellbeing. Figures compiled by 2020health found 75 per cent of school children and young people living with mental illness go undiagnosed. It also found that 73 per cent of teaching staff felt their job had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.

The chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, offered backing for further exploration of the proposals. “I welcome this thoughtful report and support the proposal to pilot Heads of Wellbeing within secondary schools and to explore their potential to improve wellbeing across the whole school community,” she said.

A competition will now be held to find a school to work with the aim of starting the pilot in September 2015. As well as the creation of a head of wellbeing role, the pilot will include the development of a wellbeing strategy focusing on children, teachers and parents. Alongside an upgrade to all current fitness facilities, Nuffield Health will offer all teachers a 12 point health MOT and introduce a new children’s health MOT, focused on nutrition, exercise and emotional wellbeing.

The full report, Head of Wellbeing: An essential post for secondary schools? can be read here.

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Every UK secondary school should appoint a ‘head of wellbeing’ tasked with improving the physical and mental health of students and teachers, according to Nuffield Health and think tank 2020health.
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Nuffield Health CEO David Mobbs says schools must take note of the wellbeing of their staff and pupils
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