Creating mentally healthy schools after the pandemic: Insights from primary school teachers

Mentally Healthy schools
A survey conducted by Pearson in April 2021, has highlighted the importance of acknowledging the impact of Covid-19 and lockdowns on students and staff since returning to school. 

The findings are based on the views of 2,941 primary teachers who participated in a Teacher Tapp survey. Teachers include primary school classroom teachers, middle leaders and school leaders including headteachers. The data has been reweighted to make it representative of the population.

What are the biggest challenges to create mentally healthy schools post-pandemic?

1 in 2 primary teachers think student mental health and wellbeing and the widening of the disadvantage gap are the biggest challenges facing their students (...).

The report shows that the top five challenges facing primary pupils are:

  • Student mental health and wellbeing (54%)
  • Widening of the disadvantage gap (54%)
  • Focused intervention for individual students (48%)
  • Identifying gaps in learning (44%)
  • Supporting students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) (43%)

More than two-thirds of primary teachers say staff mental health and wellbeing and staff workload are the biggest challenges for their primary school as a whole

The report shows that the top five challenges facing primary schools are:

  • Staff workload (69%)
  • Staff mental health and wellbeing  (68%)
  • Lost learning and how to cover course content in the available time (52%)
  • Budget pressures (50%)
  • Juggling further disruption due to Covid-19 (48%)
How can you establish mentally healthy schools post-pandemic?
  • It has been pre-ordained what any child must know, understand or be able to do at each age, so we need to change that rhetoric and talk about all the learning the children have gained, and not just focus on what’s been “lost”. By starting where the children are at, we can build upon the non-pandemic curriculum learning that has occurred. We will likely find new strengths and skills in our children and the different learning that has occurred, we can build upon
  • Student and staff mental health and wellbeing is a priority and so it is important to make sure that pupils and staff have regular opportunities to talk openly about mental health across all areas of school life. This can be done in the classroom or staff room, through curriculum time or professional development opportunities and during those ‘water cooler’ moments when you can ask others “how they are today?”
  • Focused interventions (both academic and social/emotional) are usually a challenge for schools to staff and timetable. Could a universal approach be adopted for social/emotional interventions? For example: everyone participating in the daily mile or a mindfulness programme or a wellbeing afternoon once a week or a story session at some point in the day
Masters in Leadership of School Mental Health and Wellbeing: the next cohort starts in September 2021

It’s time to empower education professionals to support the mental health needs of the whole school community. School leaders taking our qualification develop the confidence and skills to effectively support mental health needs of pupils and educators.

By increasing the confidence of leaders at all levels, we enable them to create and lead change smoothly. 

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