Researchers from DECIPHer and the Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health have developed a new evaluability assessment for the Whole School Approach to mental health and well-being in Wales.
What is the Whole School Approach to Mental Health (WSA)?
Briefly summarised, the Whole School Approach to Mental Health (WSA) believes that supporting the well-being of children and young people is everybody’s business. Therefore the school takes a holistic approach to supporting good mental health, involving staff, pupils, parents/carers, and external providers.
According to Welsh Government, WSA ‘aims to address the emotional and mental well-being needs of all children and young people, as well as school staff, as part of the whole-school community. School staff well-being is also central to the Framework, recognising the link between learner well-being and the well-being of the adults they have frequent contact with.’
How was the WSA developed?
In July 2020, Welsh Government launched an open consultation, seeking views on its WSA draft framework guidance.
The Framework was published by the Welsh Government on 15 March 2021 and is available here. It is intended to support schools and education settings in reviewing their own well-being landscape and in developing plans to address their weaknesses and build on their strengths. It also supports and complements the new national curriculum for Wales – particularly the Health and Well-being Area of Learning and Experience.
The new assessment
On 20 January 2022, the new evaluability assessment was published. It was written by Dr Rachel Brown (lead), Jordan Van Godwin, Amy Edwards, Molly Burdon and Prof. Graham Moore, with significant contributions from ALPHA Youth Consultation Group and the staff at both Newport Mind and Mind. It sets out research findings and recommendations to aid future implementation and evaluation of the WSA programme, including:
- the principles that drive and define the WSA
- the core components that need to be in place for the WSA to succeed
- evidence-based recommendations to aid implementation guidance
- a logic model and a systems map
- a phased approach to formative, process and impact evaluation
- recommendations for future evidence gathering to inform evaluation at the school and national levels
Dr Rachel Brown says: ‘We’re very grateful for the support of key stakeholders who took part in interviews for this research. We hope that the findings can provide guidance to support schools and policy makers in implementing a WSA and also in evaluation and measurement of any impact it may have.’