Tips for School Leaders – supporting your school community

Page last reviewed: 04 March 2021

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.

This section of our guide on returning to school after the coronavirus lockdown includes practical advice for school leaders for when schools resume face-to-face teaching.

Be bold

If you can, think radically about the positive aspects of the situation that you’d like to retain. Take this chance to embed different ways of working in your school environment. During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, we encouraged leaders to think about how they could put kindness, dignity and wellbeing at the heart of their institutions, and we would encourage school leaders to do the same. What would this look like in your school?  

Pastoral care

Make time for pupils to connect with adults and ensure staff are effectively supported with clear processes in place for reporting safeguarding and pastoral issues, or for signposting to other external sources of support. 

Engage parents 

Parents and care givers will also likely be feeling a range of emotions about the situation and the impact it is having on their children. If you can, offer opportunities for parents and care givers to engage with you directly, to share their feelings and worries and let them know about the support you have in place for pupils. It might also be helpful to share resources they can use to support their children – our Time for Us pack and Make it Count guides, for example. 

Training 

Take stock of where there might be gaps in knowledge and confidence around child and adolescent mental health amongst staff. You could provide learning resources, such as those on FutureLearn or other online platforms, and time for staff to complete them, until formal training can be implemented.  

Highlight available support 

From both within school and in your local community and share this as widely as possible with pupils and staff. Identify organisations that might provide counselling or advice for frontline workers, as well as mental health and wellbeing support for pupils. 

Work together 

There may be support available from statutory agencies or third sector and community organisations that you can draw on to implement some of these suggestions. You might even find that parents in your community have their own training or resources that they are happy to share with the school. Spending time mapping the support available and building relationships with these groups may be a good starting point.