8 September 2015 14:59

Lancaster University’s Work Foundation has been commissioned to assess new health and wellbeing measures in a school, as part of a new pilot study by Nuffield Health.

Over the next two years, researchers will be providing independent evaluation of Nuffield Health’s school wellbeing pilot, which will explore the concept of a Head of Wellbeing post as an integral part of secondary school infrastructure.

This will include measuring how health and wellbeing interventions that Nuffield Health is implementing improve both individual physical and psychological health, as well as school outcomes.

Alongside these measures The Work Foundation will also be evaluating the process of the intervention, looking at what is working well and where improvements are being made. But just as importantly, where any barriers to health and wellbeing interventions are and what can be done to remove these to ensure best outcomes for the staff, students and the local community.

Dr Zofia Bajorek, of Lancaster University’s The Work Foundation, said: “By evaluating the Head of Wellbeing pilot alongside Nuffield Health, we have a real opportunity to improve our understanding of the link between the school environment and health and wellbeing, and to see where improvements can be made that will benefit the school population and the local community.”

With the school environment being second only to the parental home as the most important influence on children’s and young people’s development, recent research by think tank 2020health and Nuffield Health, highlighted that poor emotional wellbeing and high levels of obesity could be vastly improved with dedicated, coordinated support within the school setting.

The Head of Wellbeing will help devise a whole school approach to wellbeing by bringing together existing practices at the school, introducing new resources and sharing significant knowledge and expertise. As part of a range of services, a Nuffield Health Lifestyle health assessment will be offered to all staff and a Health and Lifestyle Coaching session for students. The student sessions will help identify anyone in need of extra support, including mental health concerns and will coach them on areas of their health and lifestyle that needs improving. The research identifies that secondary schools could improve overall levels of wellbeing by implementing a regular measurement of pupil wellbeing.

Nuffield Health will be working with Wood Green School in Witney, Oxfordshire, following a national competition to find a secondary school to host the pilot. The unique initiative, which is the first of its kind, will be funded by Nuffield Health and will see the two year secondment of a Head of Wellbeing to help develop and implement health and wellbeing strategy at the school.

Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Nuffield Health’s Medical Director, Wellbeing, said: "We see this pilot as an opportunity to change the way that schools approach health and wellbeing. A Head of Wellbeing can provide effective support and infrastructure, which has the potential to transform pupil and staff wellbeing. The outcomes over the two years will be invaluable in helping to shape the future of school wellbeing.”