5 simple ways to look out for a mentally healthy school for your child
Looking for a school for your little one is difficult enough, if it’s a mental health and wellbeing focus you are after then it can be quite tricky to spot the clues and know the right questions to ask.
Here are my top 5 simple tips of how to spot those all too important hidden gems of a mentally healthy school.
“...you will rarely find someone working in a school who is lazy!”
Do you notice a lot of adult work on display? This may mean that the children are not owning their own learning journey. A school that is proud of individual efforts and showing it off for the world to see is a sign they recognise, listen to and acknowledge each individual. The children's work may not be perfect but it's the process that is important in healthy learning.
Have you read the school Wellbeing Policy? (if they don't have one, ask politely, why not?) Pick out a few of the points that interest you and ask how they put them into practice day to day? Be wary of box ticking exercises such as a Mental Health Week rather than daily embedding of wellbeing initiatives.
Ask to speak to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead - if they don’t have one, do they have someone who is responsible for the wellbeing of staff and children in the school? If they don't have anybody leading in this area how do they share responsibility for wellbeing in the school?
Take a peek into the staffroom - is it comfortable and welcoming? Do the teachers have amenities to make their lunch breaks pleasant? An empty staffroom (at lunchtime/break times) could be telling you that teachers are working through their lunch/tea breaks. Please note that some teachers stay in their classrooms at lunchtime and rest and relax in the comfort of their own space but you should find at least one person in the staffroom!
Ask the teachers how the school look after their wellbeing - If the staff can't prioritise their mental health then they are unlikely to be able to model this to the children they teach.
Remember to always be supportive when visiting a school, just because it is not right for your child does not mean it is a bad school, you will rarely find someone working in a school that is lazy! This is just about finding the right school for you and your family.