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23 Nov 2018

Wellbeing should 'sit alongside other subjects' at school – Nuffield Health study
BY Tom Walker

The presence of a dedicated member of staff resulted in children having the impetus to exercise more regularly

The presence of a dedicated member of staff resulted in children having the impetus to exercise more regularly

Creating a role for a 'head of wellness' at schools would get students and staff more physically active – and make a positive difference to their emotional and physical wellbeing.

According to new research by Nuffield Health, having a dedicated member of staff with the responsibility of teaching children about health and wellbeing showed "significant" changes in wellbeing.

The Improving wellbeing in schools report is based on a two-year pilot that installed a head of wellbeing within a secondary school.

Comparing the "level of wellness" (using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, WEMWBS) at the beginning and the end of the pilot, Nuffield found that the mean score for staff wellbeing increased by 12 per cent during the two years.

In terms of exercise and activity, the presence of a dedicated member of staff offered a mixture of both new opportunities and a better understanding of their bodies – resulting in students with the impetus to exercise more regularly.

There was also a marked increase in the number of staff using gym facilities, with almost a quarter signed up for regular activities.

“There is a gap in the provision of wellbeing support in schools that urgently needs addressing," said Davina Deniszczyc, Nuffield Health's medical director.

"Our pilot showed that a dedicated expert, embedded into a school, can achieve significant change over time.”

Using the insights from the pilot, Nuffield has now developed the Schools Wellbeing Activity Programme (swap). The free programme offers evidence-based lessons that can be delivered by our experts, to support local schools in their area, either as a six-week programme or individual sessions.

Nuffield has set itself a target of reaching 50,000 young people by 2020 through partnerships with local schools.



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