Learner wellbeing ‘should influence league table performance’

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Learner wellbeing ‘should influence league table performance’

School leagues tables should mention levels of happiness and pupil wellbeing among the data, to help tackle the epidemic of mental health problems among young people.

The call was made by Sir Anthony Seldon, a former Headteacher and now Vice-Chancellor at the University of Buckingham, who said the focus on academic achievement meant schools might not be taking as much interest in their students’ wellbeing as they should.

“As long as the only metric on which schools are being assessed is their exam performance, our schools will never have the incentive to take wellbeing as seriously as they should,” he said.

Speaking on World Mental Health Day this week, Sir Anthony, himself a campaigner for the cause, said schools were still not doing enough to prevent ‘avoidable suffering’ among children and young people.

In future, school league tables, which are due to be overhauled, could contain information on how many resources Headteachers put into pastoral care and surveying pupils on their views of school life. He said such comparisons would encourage schools to take mental health issues more seriously.

Sir Anthony said experience of being a Headteacher suggested that parents would value the additional information over and above data detailing the academic performance of a school.

“[Parents] know, even if the government doesn’t, that schools that prioritise wellbeing, which includes challenging and stretching students, also build character and help them to perform better than those schools which are just exam factories,” he said.

Sir Anthony introduced wellbeing classes for pupils when he was Headteacher of Wellington College, Berkshire. Now as a university Vice-Chancellor, he said: “It has become even clearer to me that by the time students reach 18, the damage has been done and universities are on the back foot.”

His comments came as a study for the youth charity YMCA revealed that 38% of young people suffering from mental health difficulties admitted to feeling stigmatised.

ASDAN's PSHE Short Course is one way in which teachers can support young people in the classroom to navigate some of the issues around mental health, through practical work and discussion. The programme includes modules on:

  • Keeping Healthy
  • Social Relationships
  • Careers and Your Future
  • Wellbeing

What next?