Preparing for school inspections

The 'how good is our school?' (HGIOS) framework that Education Scotland uses to inspect schools includes mental health and wellbeing as a focus.

Education Scotland is responsible for inspecting all schools and early learning and childcare (ELC) establishments in Scotland. Education Scotland does not work on an inspection cycle, inspecting all schools every few years. Instead, it uses a sampling model, inspecting around 250 schools and ELCs each year.

The framework that Education Scotland uses to assess schools is called How good is our school? (HGIOS), which is now on its fourth edition. The framework is structured around quality indicators which schools can use to support their ongoing self-evaluation.

HGIOS approach to wellbeing

Section 3.1 of the HGIOS framework focuses specifically on wellbeing, although wellbeing is threaded throughout the rest of the framework too.

In section 3.1, Education Scotland lays out what it suggests are features of highly effective practice:

  • The whole learning community has a shared understanding of wellbeing and the children’s rights.

Things schools can do

The most important thing schools can do to meet the aims of this framework is to develop a whole-school approach to mental health. This means that all parts of the school community – senior leaders, teachers, parent councils, pupils, parents, carers and the wider community – should all be involved.

  • Evaluate your existing provision: it’s important to regularly evaluate and assess your school’s current performance and pupils’ wellbeing, as well as action planning for improvement. 
  • Staff induction, professional learning and supervision: high-quality training and support should be available both for school leaders and for the broader staff team. Options could include SAMH’s free e-learning module for teachers, Mental Health First Aid for Young People CPD, Place2Be’s Mental Health Champions: School Leaders training, or you could speak to your local authority to see if they have any preferred training providers. This website can also be a useful tool for staff induction and continuous professional development.
  • Prioritise pupil voices: putting children at the heart of any whole-school approach to mental health is key. Find out more about how to do this.
  • Involve parents and carers: Parents and carers should feel engaged with the school and its approach to wellbeing. Find out more about how to do this.
  • Link with external support: good links with external mental health support are important. This could include links with your local CAHMS, counselling providers or other organisations in your area. Find out more about how to find these services local to you.
  • Support staff wellbeing: a mentally healthy school looks after the wellbeing of both pupils and staff. Giving staff the right mental health support will enable them to support their pupils in turn. Find out more about how to do this.

Top tips

Evaluate your current provision

Know your starting point and your end goal before you begin.

Support staff

Support staff with their own wellbeing, and train them to successfully look after their pupils’ wellbeing too.

Make sure children are heard

An inclusive school culture that prioritises pupils’ voices is key.

Resources

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Pyramid of need framework

Pyramid of need framework

This pyramid of need framework helps schools consider what data might be used to assess the needs of...

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The compassionate and connected classroom

The compassionate and connected classroom

Five lesson plans to support children and young people’s understanding of adversity, trauma and...

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Emotionally healthy schools resource pack

Emotionally healthy schools resource pack

A resource pack on emotionally healthy schools, including a checklist.

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Improving children and young people’s understanding of their wellbeing

Improving children and young people’s understanding of their wellbeing

This resource for teachers and practitioners helps to support children and young people’s...

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