Mental health and wellbeing targeted

Staff and children need more emotional support in school, according to primary survey

Emma Seith

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One of the largest health and wellbeing surveys conducted in Scottish primaries has found that more than a third of staff in 10 Edinburgh schools did not feel optimistic about the future. And about two thirds were upset by children's behaviour.

Almost a third of pupils in the same primaries said they would not go to an adult if they were upset; a quarter said they struggled to deal with problems; and one in 10 did not think adults set a good example.

The research also found boys tended to have a poorer relationship with staff, and children in schools with a higher free school meal entitlement tended to empathise less and to be less resilient.

The findings came from surveys conducted by Edinburgh City Council's Growing Confidence project, which aims to create stronger, more understanding communities to act as a safety net for people when life gets tough. The initiative is funded to the tune of Pounds 1 million by the Big Lottery and is scheduled to run for five years. Hundreds of children, teenagers, parents and childcare professionals in Edinburgh - including teachers - began receiving confidence-building classes in August last year.

Schools are also funded to run an annual community arts project and Seasons for Growth, an Australian programme to help pupils deal with change or loss (TESS, November 14).

However, before any of the work began, baseline data was collected to help measure the programme's impact in the future. Some 242 staff and 1,381 pupils took part in the surveys.

Patricia Santelices, manager of the Growing Confidence project said: "We'll repeat the survey year-on-year, which will allow us to see what impact the project is having on staff and children.

"Clearly the findings demonstrate the need to support and promote positive mental health and emotional wellbeing in the children and staff in our schools. This is what the project will do, and the early returns from this year's evaluation suggest we are starting to make a difference."

Parents will be targeted next by the project and teenagers in the third year.

Ultimately, the scheme aims to reach 3,375 primary children, 235 staff, 675 parents and carers, and 135 teenagers.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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