Schools to be forced to pay attention to pupils’ well-being

Schools in England and Wales will be required to promote children’s well-being under an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill agreed this week.

The change will place a statutory obligation on school governing bodies to help improve pupils’ physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, as well as their educational attainment. Schools will also be required to play their part in protecting children from harm and neglect, and steering them towards positive activities and away from antisocial behaviour.

Explaining the government’s decision to back the amendment following earlier claims that it was unnecessary, education minister Lord Adonis said there was “real value” in sending a message to teachers and other professionals working with children that raising educational standards and promoting pupil well-being were “mutually reinforcing”.

“Stating unambiguously in primary legislation that school governing bodies have a clear duty to promote well-being will help to speed the delivery of the undoubted premium on school standards that arises from the improved well-being of pupils,” he said.

Welcoming the amendment, Les Lawrence, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people’s board, said it would go a long way to meeting long-standing demands from the sector for schools to have a statutory duty to commit to the entire Every Child Matters agenda, rather than just the aspects on learning and achieving.

However, he expressed disappointment that the amendment did not appear to cover Academies and City Technology Colleges, and called for the duty to be further extended to rectify this.

Under the same amendment, maintained schools in England will also now be required to promote community cohesion. Lord Adonis said the government had agreed with schools watchdog Ofsted that his new duty would be backed up with “an effective inspection regime”..

However, the government dropped earlier plans to give local authorities a power to require new faith schools to offer at least 25 per cent of places on the basis of local preference, not faith preference alone.

The Education and Inspections Bill will now return to the House of Commons.


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