The Sandwell Whole School Approach to Well-Being

The Sandwell Whole School Approach to Well-Being is currently entering the third year of a three--year programme, commissioned and funded by Public Health Sandwell, in partnership with the Educational Psychology Service who have taken a lead on the background research and design and delivery of the model.


  • From start: No
  • During process: Yes
  • In evaluation: No


  • Peer: Yes
  • Academic: No
  • PP Collaborative: Yes

Find out more



What We Did

The Sandwell Whole School Approach to Well-Being is currently entering the third year of a three–year programme, commissioned and funded by Public Health Sandwell, in partnership with the Educational Psychology Service who have taken a lead on the background research and design and delivery of the model.
Our programme is intended to be delivered universally through all schools, initially developed for Primary, but now extended to Secondary.
Schools that opt into this programme are awarded the Sandwell Wellbeing Charter Mark if they can demonstrate that they take a whole-school approach to emotional health and wellbeing through a process of audit, action planning and review.
Educational Psychologist undertake a baseline audit looking at the 8 criteria below:

Ethos and Environment
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Student Voice
Staff Development/Wellbeing
Identifying Needs and Monitoring Impact
Working with parents/carers
Targeted support and appropriate referral

Research psychologists gather hard data i.e. exclusion rate, staff sickness etc; undertake a staff questionnaire, conduct parent focus groups and child-focussed activities). Individual pupils complete the wellbeing measurement tool (see below)

Findings are collated into a baseline report and Schools then develop an action plan to address areas of improvement, which is reviewed in order to reach a judgment about whether the criteria have been met.

One of the criteria is the delivery of an evidence-based Emotional Health and Wellbeing Curriculum. The research psychologists in the team undertook an evidence review to try and see what was the most suitable programme and taking a wide range of factors into consideration (including cost, sustainability, acceptability, reach) the original SEAL programme came out best. The team gained permission to update and localise the lesson plans and have created the ‘Healthy Mind Happy Me Curriculum’ for Primary Schools covering themes such as ‘all about me’, ‘friendship’ ‘belonging’, ‘resilience/coping’, ‘my wider world’, and ‘being the best I can be’. Schools can use these materials flexibly to complement existing work.

A wellbeing measurement tool has also been developed to gather information about pupil wellbeing that maps against the outcomes of the programme. Schools can use this tool to identify issues, and measure improvements in outcomes. They share the results of their measures so that we can build up a population picture for Sandwell.

57 out of 92 Primary Schools have engaged so far, with others coming on board in this final year. The approach was extended to secondary schools in the second year, 4 out of 17 are in the implementation stage and all the rest have expressed an interest and will commence this academic year. All 5 Special Schools and 2 residential centres are involved. So far 15 schools have completed an implementation cycle and been awarded their Charter Mark.

See evaluation section below for how we are evidencing outcomes, and what the findings have been to date.



Wider Active Support

This programme is part of the local response to ‘Future In Mind’ through the CAMHS Transformation Plan and is supported and monitored through our multi-agency Children’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing Steering Group. This includes partners from the CCG, Voluntary Sector and NHS Providers. The School Nursing Service attends the school action-planning meetings, contributes to the delivery of plans and is available to follow up with targeted support and referral to specialist agencies for students who need additional help. On the ground, the whole of the school community is involved, and schools themselves will have their own networks of community providers to support their action plans.

The main driving force has been the close partnership between Public Health and the Educational Psychology Team, through a strong shared commitment to find a sustainable approach to promoting children’s positive wellbeing at a population level, using evidence-based approaches.



Children from Shenstone Lodge School worked with a designer to come up with the visual concept for the Charter Mark.
Children have co-produced stories and lessons for the curriculum with us through drama workshops.
Children have provided their own perspectives on school in the focus groups in each school. These have fed directly into the action planning process to drive actions and next steps in school.
During the Charter-mark review process children are asked again to comment on their views about school, exploring the impact of the changes that have taken place.
Children have taken photos of their school and these have formed a key feature of the schools’ reports.
Children have given feedback on the well-being survey and changes have been made on the basis of this feedback – thus the survey has been co-produced to an extent.
Children were involved in the development of our evaluative film – sharing their feedback on the Charter Mark experiences and giving ideas for the future


Looking Back/Challenges Faced

At a time when schools are under immense pressure, we have been delighted at the high level of engagement and positivity about the programme. Schools appreciate the flexible (rather than ‘one size fits all’) approach and the fact that this builds on and recognises what they are already doing. There have been no real barriers to implementation.

The main challenge for us is capturing all the positive benefits and outcomes from the programme over a short timescale. Initial research into existing wellbeing measures showed that there were very few scales that had been validated for the primary age group, and these were either negatively framed or measuring different things. Our wellbeing measurement tool has been developed in parallel to the Charter Mark Process and continues to to be refined following initial analysis and standardisation. This means that the survey tool was not fully validated and standardised in time to gather robust baseline data for the first cohort of schools on the programme. Further adaptations are being made for the secondary age group.

Not surprisingly staff wellbeing has proved to be a major theme throughout the process – This could be a strong selling point for other schools/areas – i.e. how this process can help to engage staff and improve their own wellbeing and resilience alongside the pupils’.



The programme has funding for three academic school years and has been planned so that there is time and capacity for every school in Sandwell to gain their Charter Mark during this period if they engage with the programme. Following this we envisage that the work can continue to be supported at minimal cost by the Inclusion Support Services and School Nurses through their regular visits to schools, when they can monitor the continued implementation of action plans. The Educational Psychologists have already been involving their colleagues in the wider Inclusion Support Team to ensure that this happens.

In addition, there has been some funding generated through the sale of the Charter Mark Model to other areas that can help to sustain the work.


Evaluation (Peer or Academic)

Evaluation of the programme is on-going as we continue to gather data at the beginning and end of the improvement cycle in each school. It is intended that when there is sufficient data we will be able to undertake a population-level evaluation in conjunction with an academic institution.

We can now measure pupil wellbeing using our standardised scale. (This has been used with over 1000 pupils so far). This is mostly baseline data at present, but as time goes on we will be able to analyse wellbeing scores both before and after the improvement cycle.

At individual school level we collect pre and post data for:
Staff sickness
Pupil attendance
Tier 2 Referrals for Emotional Health and Wellbeing Services
School Change requests

Staff are asked to rate their school before and after on 5 elements of the Whole-School Model.

Environmental quality
Emotional Processing
Social participation

Pupils also give qualitative feedback at the review stage, identifying the impact of any changes that have been made.



We are still collecting data and have not yet fully evaluated the programme, however initial findings are promising. The pupil wellbeing survey will enable us to measure any improvement at individual, school and population level in the future.
Overall, the rating the staff give on their school’s performance against the 5 elements above show improvements in all areas, particularly in self-esteem, emotional processing and self-management.
Over half of the schools taking part have reported improvements in staff sickness, pupil attendance, CAMHS referrals, and school change requests. While these are small numbers, and changes cannot be solely attributed to the Charter Mark Programme, it is a positive indicator. One participating school for example, directly attributes the reduction of staff sickness to the work they have done on improving staff wellbeing through the Charter Mark Programme.

We have lots of very positive feedback from schools – here are a few examples:
“exceptionally useful process”
“worthwhile” “drives standards up”
“framework to build everything”
“key to have an impartial eye for feedback”
“progress has never been so good and can attribute to this”
“Process wasn’t small tweaks it was huge changes, it brought about changes with the parents. Parents are now more involved in school life. The general ethos of working together has been developed and well-being is now at the heart of the school.”
“Helped with OFSTED”
“Lovely to share with parents”
“Key thing for people to do”
“Every school should do it”
“Questionnaires were really powerful and showed things people wouldn’t have necessarily voiced otherwise”
“Well-being is more valued now”
“Stuff was happening that parents didn’t know about but now they do.”
“Pupils were very involved.”
“Helped identify what we are already doing and makes a difference.”

There is a short video describing the programme:


The model has been presented to the Educational Psychology community at local and national conferences including those held by the British Psychological Society and the Association of Educational Psychologists. The model has also been presented at a Regional Early learning event for strategic leads within Children’s Services and Public Health. Because of the level of interest we have held a national training event for Educational Psychologists (34 attended from 26 areas) and have agreed for them to use the model under a three-year license which costs £350.


Is there any other information you would like to add?

If you would like further information we are happy to provide hard copies of the Charter Mark framework, the ‘Healthy Minds Happy Me’ curriculum and the wellbeing measurement tool. This would give you a more detailed explanation of the theoretical model and philosophy which underpins the approach should you want to explore this further.


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