2021 Spring Term 1


  • A better world
    After the year we've just had and for the sake of our children, we need to paint a picture of a better world and that should be part of our leadership legacy says Geoff Barton. More
  • Spending review
    There were no surprises or rabbits out of hats in the Chancellor's spending review. Nevertheless, confirmation of funding already promised was a huge relief for the education sector. Here, ASCL Specialists Julia Harnden and Louise Hatswell explain what it means for you. More
  • Flying the flag
    ASCL's LGBT Leaders' Network is launching at a positive moment for equality, diversity and inclusion campaigners but there is much work still to do, says Rich Atterton. More
  • Well schools
    Research has revealed that wellbeing is the most important factor for parents choosing a school for their children. Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, highlights a new movement that is helping schools put wellbeing at the heart of education. More
  • Dual role model
    Many men and women view the challenge of being both a parent and a full-time school or college leader too daunting to consider. Anna Paul, mother of two girls, aged 4 years-old and 18 months, and the deputy head of an independent senior school, says it is not only possible to combine both responsibilities but it can also be deeply rewarding. More
  • Setting the standard
    The Headteachers' Standards 2020 are rooted in what a 'good head' knows, understands and does in leading and managing a school, says Chair of the Review Group, Malcolm Trobe CBE. More
Bookmark and Share

Research has revealed that wellbeing is the most important factor for parents choosing a school for their children. Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, highlights a new movement that is helping schools put wellbeing at the heart of education. 

Well schools

The Well Schools movement – powered by the Youth Sport Trust and Bupa Foundation – is supporting UK schools to put wellbeing at the heart of young people’s education and place a greater emphasis on the outcomes schools achieve beyond academic attainment. It is a self-improving, school-led movement with a board made up of school leaders and practitioners.

The Youth Sport Trust outlined the concept at its 2019 National Conference, accelerating its development and launch alongside 33 founding schools, in response to the challenges of Covid and the appetite of school leaders for a new approach to education founded on a culture and climate of wellbeing. This chimes with the views of most parents.

Research shows that wellbeing is the most important issue for secondary school parents when choosing a school for their children. For primary school parents, location is the most important factor, closely followed by wellbeing. See tinyurl.com/yafwsdtp

The research, commissioned by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust and carried out by YouGov, revealed an appetite among UK parents to hear more from schools about what they are doing to support children’s wellbeing.

Key findings among parents show:

  • When asked to choose the most important factors when deciding on a secondary school for their children, wellbeing of pupils at the school was the most popular choice with 65% of parents saying this was an important factor. The next most popular factors were location (63%), facilities at the school such as a sports centre and an IT lab (60%), culture and ethos promoted by the headteacher and staff (57%), Ofsted rating (54%) and then exam results (52%).
  • For parents choosing a primary school for their children, 68% said location was one of the most important factors, followed by pupil wellbeing (63%), culture and ethos (55%), Ofsted rating (51%), facilities (46%) and then enrichment programmes offered by the school (43%).
  • A total of 68% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that they would like to see more information on what schools were doing to support the wellbeing of pupils and 70% said it should be easier to find this out. In contrast, less than half of parents (43%) said they currently felt well informed on what their child’s school was doing to support wellbeing.
  • A total of 58% of parents agreed wellbeing was likely to be better in schools that prioritised sport, physical education and physical activity. A total of 80% agreed that cuts to physical education, sport and break times were likely to have a negative impact on young people’s wellbeing.

Separate research commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust and carried out by YouGov showed that the importance attached to wellbeing by parents was shared by young people. A total of 62% of young people aged 6 to 15 said that being happy and healthy was more important than school and grades, compared with just 6% who disagreed.

Launch of Well Schools

Any school can become part of the movement and access resources for free by pledging to put wellbeing at the heart of their teaching and learning, connect with other schools to share effective practice and champion school outcome measures that go beyond academic performance.

Prioritising wellbeing in our schools has never been more important as the nation experiences intermittent disruption caused by coronavirus. Well Schools was needed before this pandemic, and it will be needed long into the future. We will give it every ounce of support we can.

How are schools using Well Schools?

Sean Doyle, PE team leader from Shenley Brook End School in Milton Keynes, is using the Well Schools platform and has taken the Well Schools movement pledge.

Sean said his school has been on a journey where they have reimagined PE and teacher wellbeing, historically looking at PE through the lens of technical and tactical ability to now focusing on ensuring young people develop a lifelong love of physical activity, sport and healthy lifestyles.

He said: “We want to continue to make noise about the links between exercise and wellbeing, and now we have a clear direction which is backed by research conducted on a regular basis by the Youth Sport Trust. This allows me to sit at a table with my leadership group and really drive the agenda forward. The practical ideas we can share and learn via the Well Schools dashboard have already proven invaluable and there really has been a tangible positive impact on both staff and students at school.

“With the focus away from intense catch-up programmes and concentrated more on how staff can support students emotionally on their return, we have been able to target our support in a more effective way based on the experiences of lockdown that students are beginning to share with us.

“All in all, placing wellbeing at the heart of what we do will always lead to us providing the best educational experience for our young people.”

Ben Levinson, Headteacher at Kensington Primary School in Newham, is also part of the movement and has taken the pledge.

He said: “Well Schools is a welcome relief in the current climate. From the first moment I heard about it, I felt it captured what children need in education and reflected what my school is trying to achieve. As a profession we are seeing good teachers leave from stress and too much focus on academic results. We are seeing unhappy and underprepared children.

“If we are to address this, health needs to be at the heart of schools. We need a school-led self-improvement system coming from those staff working at the coalface. We have a moral imperative to our staff and young people to get this right, and Well Schools is addressing this.”

If you are a school who would like to register as a Well School and join the movement visit www.well-school.org

Ali Oliver
Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust