Wellbeing has been a big concern in schools for a long time, but the events of the last year in particular have put mental health and wellbeing at the forefront in schools. Lockdown, grief, uncertainty, and changes to our way of life have all taken a toll on young people’s minds.
Governing boards have played a central role in supporting headteachers as they’ve worked to keep children safe and learning effectively while at home. Boards have also supported school leadership as schools have reopened to all pupils, where the focus has largely been on wellbeing as pupils adjust to being back in school.
So why do we recommend that all school boards have a link governor for wellbeing?
Having wellbeing governors on boards isn’t a solution to the mental health crisis, but having a dedicated person to champion wellbeing does help make sure that provision is kept as a high priority.
Our campaign Wellbeing Governors launched in September 2020 with the aim of encouraging all boards to adopt the wellbeing link governor role. Over the last 2 terms, we’ve focused on pupil and school staff wellbeing, and this term’s focus is on the connection between mental and physical health, and how governors can help keep schools physically active.
Bounce Together’s recent survey of staff in schools found that:
Only 58% of participants rate their physical health as ‘good’ or above, while just 1 of every 2 participants rated their own mental health as ‘good’ or above. 45% of individuals reported feeling anxious within the past 24 hours.
These results were based on 1,594 responses across 51 locations all from around the country – and help demonstrate the need the need for leadership and a culture that ensures staff mental health and wellbeing remains a priority. Having a link governor for wellbeing on the board can help keep mental health and wellbeing on the agenda throughout the school year.
What do wellbeing governors do?
The aim of the link governor for wellbeing is to provide a connection between the rest of the governing board and the school/Trust. It’s the wellbeing governor’s job to support the embedding of mental health and wellbeing provision across the entire school.
Wellbeing governors don’t need any specific experience to carry out the role effectively. Governors appointed to the role should consider policies and the impact of decisions from a wellbeing perspective, and ask questions about provision. There is lots of support available to get new link governors up to speed – including resources created as part of the Wellbeing Governors campaign.
How could a wellbeing governor benefit your board?
The link governor for wellbeing can ask questions about provision, and help with planning a strategy that puts wellbeing at the core of school life, embedding it in the curriculum and other activities. They can also act as the point of contact on the governing board for staff who oversee mental health and wellbeing provisions in the school. This is helpful for staff who know there’s a specific person in place to support with wellbeing – and who they can meet with to discuss their plans and priorities for the coming months.
Bounce Together’s survey also found that:
95% of respondents feel their job gives them the "feeling of work well done". A further 80% of respondents were happy with their job and 83% would recommend their school as “a great place to work”.
It’s encouraging to see that many of those working in education recognise the impact they have, but it’s important we look after their wellbeing as best we can to ensure get the support they need.
How can you become a wellbeing governor?
You can’t apply directly to become a wellbeing governor. As with all link governor roles, it’s a position you can be voted into once you’re on the governing board. For new governors, you could become a link governor for wellbeing through the following process:
- Apply to become a governor by completing your online profile with Governors for Schools, and we’ll match you with a school in need
- You’ll have the opportunity to outline your interest/experience in mental health and wellbeing in the application form, so we can find a school looking for someone with your skill set
- Once you’re on the board, you can apply to become a link governor for wellbeing if the position is vacant, or join a committee focused on wellbeing
Already a wellbeing governor?
For those already appointed to the link governor for wellbeing role, we have a number of resources to help you effectively champion wellbeing at your school.
Governors for Schools is a national education charity that finds and places skilled people on governing boards across England and Wales. Governors for Schools has over 20 years’ experience recruiting high-calibre volunteers from a range of backgrounds, so that they can bring their knowledge to school boards - and make a difference to how schools are run.