Marking a milestone in the development of the Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE), we were delighted to invite all our SHINE school representatives and the Local Authorities HWB representatives to our inaugural SHINE National Network Conference on 22nd May in Edinburgh.
Around 80 teachers along with representatives from 12 Local Authorities, Education Scotland, NHS Health Scotland and Scottish Government joined us on the day to launch the Network and start making valuable connections. The theme was ‘Mental health and wellbeing: using evidence to inform effective school practice’. The presenters covered a range of aspects including evidence, current research and innovative practice within both the education and public health sectors in response to supporting mental health in schools. Delegates heard some fantastic examples from the Welsh Schools Health Research Network of how health and wellbeing data had both informed and transformed school policy and practice in order to improve pupils’ experiences.
The palpable energy in the room underlined the appetite for collaboration in Scotland and the support for the further development of the Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE).
Professor Laurence Moore chaired the morning session of the conference, launching the day’s proceedings with an overview of the inspiration for and history to date of the Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE). Dr Joanna Inchley set the context for the day, revealing what the most recent research tells us about young people’s mental health and wellbeing in Scotland. This was followed by Carly Grant, who reflected on current collaborations between agencies working with young people and the need to ensure that the activation of one agency doesn’t deactivate all other agencies working with a young person. Echoing the voice of the young people she is currently working with, Carly reminded the room that it is often “the simple stuff” that make the biggest difference to young people’s wellbeing.
Celebrating the collaboration between the School Health Research Network (SHRN) in Wales and SHINE Scotland, now in their 6th year of development, the SHRN Manager, Joan Roberts and three Welsh teachers, Emma, Kate and Vanessa delighted the delegates with examples of their work and progress in improving Health and Wellbeing in schools in Wales. The overwhelming message conveyed the importance of health and wellbeing data in schools and how the use of evidence-based data can make real improvements to both pupil and staff wellbeing.
The many opportunities to network throughout the day proved extremely popular and useful. Delegates engaged enthusiastically with the presenters in the Q & A sessions and the workshop session provided a welcome opportunity to discuss the potential use of health and wellbeing data in schools and share good practice on existing mental health interventions
A carousel of research in the afternoon brought some of the health research projects from the University of Glasgow to the attention of the schools and local authorities. This session explored the benefits and applications of the SEED (Social and Emotional Education Development) trial, Safespot – a digital approach to supporting mental health in schools and the importance of social networks to wellbeing in school. Delegates were invited to register their school’s interest to hear more or possibly be involved in the research projects.
To round off a wonderful event, Suzanne Hargreaves and Lorna Aitken, both Senior Education Officers at Education Scotland, energised the room inviting delegates to consider the challenges to wellbeing that young people face in an ever-changing world. Having demonstrated the need to review current practice in order to face future challenges, they presented examples of support from Education Scotland to drive change forward as well as Case Studies from the National Improvement Hub, which were well received.
The success of the day lay in the many useful, new connections made and experiences shared. The subsequent evaluation of the event called, overwhelmingly, for “more of the same” while the offer to delegates to sign up to hear more about or participate in six of the research projects going on in the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow resulted in 143 registrations in total. SHINE is looking forward to supporting these valuable contacts between schools and health researchers going forward and working with schools and Local Authorities to develop the use of health and wellbeing data in schools further to improve the health and wellbeing of young people and staff.
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