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Award scheme recognises schools building better mental health

12 June 2017

  • School leaders report dramatic increases in the number of students suffering from mental health and wellbeing issues – 55% said there had been a large increase in anxiety and stress amongst students.
  • Optimus Education Ltd in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau develop Wellbeing Award for Schools, launching in September 2017.

From September 2017, a new Wellbeing Award for Schools, presented by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and Optimus Education Ltd (part of the Prospects Group), will recognise outstanding work being done to promote mental health and wellbeing within school communities across England.

An NCB survey in 2016  showed many school leaders reported dramatic increases in the number of students suffering from mental health and wellbeing issues over the past five years. More than half (55%) said there had been a large increase in anxiety or stress, and over 40% reported a big increase in the problem of cyberbullying. Nearly eight out of ten (79%) reported an increase in self harm or suicidal thoughts amongst students.

This new award will recognise schools that embed a culture which values the happiness and emotional welfare of all its pupils. Both the Department for Education and Ofsted have supported this approach, stressing that promoting good mental health is the responsibility of all members of a school community: its staff and governors, parents and pupils, and partner organisations beyond the school gates.

The Wellbeing Award supports schools to create a culture in which mental health can thrive, helping them to:
•    Show the school’s commitment to promoting wellbeing as part of day-to-day school life
•    Develop a whole school strategy for improving the wellbeing of pupils
•    Attract and retain high-quality staff.

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau said: "Children today face new challenges – such as the demands of 24-hour connectivity on social media, cyber-bullying and sexting. They’re also under huge pressure to do well in exams, in the face of an increasingly competitive jobs market. Time and again research has shown these pressures are resulting in a rising tide of mental health issues amongst the young. But as well as helping those with problems, we need to create a positive climate where wellbeing and happiness can bloom. For schools, this means ensuring that mental health is everyone’s business. We’re so excited that this award will recognise schools who’ve risen to the challenge, and are making pupil wellbeing a priority."

Andrew Thraves, Director of Education for Prospects, said: "I am delighted that Optimus Education Ltd is partnering with the National Children's Bureau on the development of the Wellbeing Award for Schools. Pupil wellbeing at school is quite rightly a major concern for teachers and parents. Our new Award for schools provides a robust and rigorous framework that will enable senior leaders, teachers and other school staff to demonstrate that they take the wellbeing of their pupils seriously. Our partnership with NCB on the conception, design and development of the Award means that the framework is underpinned by a thorough research and evidence base, and its delivery in school is supported by a national network of highly-skilled advisers."

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Register for the award

The Wellbeing Award for Schools launches in September, but schools can register now.

Note to Editors

For further information please contact the National Children’s Bureau media office: 020 7843 6047
For urgent enquiries out of office-hours call: 07721 097 033.

About the National Children’s Bureau

The National Children’s Bureau is a leading children’s charity working to build a better childhood for every child. We champion children’s right to be safe, secure and supported, by using evidence and our expert knowledge to influence government policy, and help practitioners to do the best job possible, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.
For more information visit

About Optimus Education Ltd

Optimus Education Ltd, part of the Prospects Group, is a leading provider of professional development support and school improvement services for schools, academies and other educational institutions. Since 1997 we have been helping primary and secondary school leadership teams to manage staff development efficiently and effectively, stay compliant and drive whole school improvement.
For more information visit

About the 11th Annual Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools Conference
In association with the launch of the award, Optimus Education Ltd will be running the 11th Annual Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools Conference in London 8 November and Manchester 23 November where Matthew Dodd, Principal Officer at NCB, is speaking about the award in a keynote speech.

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