Last Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Cycle of Wellbeing

What is this?

The ‘Cycle of Wellbeing’ draws together a wide range of national guidance and resources published to support the wellbeing of staff and children and young people.

Who is this for?

Senior leaders in local authority and schools with responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of staff and children and young people.

The ‘Cycle’ outlined here, provides a narrative of how the resources connect and could be used to strategically plan supports and interventions for staff and school communities, based on local evidence. It demonstrates the synergies of the resources and how they can be used strategically to forward plan supports for staff and learner mental wellbeing based on evidence gathered within a school community.

Explore this resource

The Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy published in March 2017 set out the vision to improve mental health in Scotland. A key section in the strategy deals with prevention and early intervention which outlines the ambition that every child and young person should have appropriate access to emotional and mental wellbeing support in school.

The importance of a whole school approach was also highlighted in the Schools: personal and social education review, as a key aspect to promote positive mental health for children and young people and to enable the link between mental health services across education and in the wider community.

Wellbeing of and for staff

Staff wellbeing must be the priority. In order for staff to effectively deliver their role, they must ensure their own wellbeing needs are understood and plans in place to support individual needs.

The Wellbeing planning tool provides a traffic light warning system that staff can use to recognise if their own wellbeing may be at risk and suggests ways to manage stress. This short video provides a helpful overview Staff Wellbeing and Self Care in a Crisis on Vimeo.

Once a wellbeing plan has been identified based on individual triggers, staff can then go to Support for the education workforce to identify supports that will meet their needs based on their own wellbeing plan or written intention of what supports are required.

This resource has been developed in collaboration with key partners across the education system and has been driven by the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) workforce support working group. The aim is to ensure that staff across the education system feel supported, and to ensure they are able to meet the needs of our learners across the system during this challenging time.

A wide range of free professional learning has been made available for education staff to access. In addition, Workforce Wellbeing; Beyond the pandemic and into the future has been developed by colleagues at NHS Education Scotland to support staff wellbeing. The Staff Health & Wellbeing wakelet also contains signposts to supports for the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’ developed for staff.

Wellbeing support

Once the wellbeing needs of staff have been identified and a plan developed and in place, the next stage is to look at a whole school community approach to promote positive mental wellbeing. A whole school community approach can be preventative, is universal and can include targeted interventions to ensure that the needs of all members of a school community are met.

This Whole School Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing self evaluation framework places the rights of the child at the heart of the whole school community and provides an opportunity to reflect on their own learning needs, through identifying areas of strength and areas requiring structured next steps for improvement.

It would be best practice not to look at all of these at once, instead focus on the key wellbeing principles requiring most need over one session. The results from this self evaluation framework could be used to evidence aspects of the School Improvement Planning process.

Professional learning to support staff

Once the plan is in place for supporting staff wellbeing and a plan in place focussing on the whole school and its community based on evidence gathered, the next stage is to identify the mental health knowledge and skills gaps of staff working with children and young people.

In order to ensure staff have the knowledge and skills required to support the wellbeing of children and young people, they must first identify their own professional learning needs in this area.

This Children and young people's mental health and wellbeing: a knowledge and skills framework for the Scottish workforce from NHS Education for Scotland contains the knowledge and skills required to support the mental health & wellbeing of children and young people.

It could be used as part of an individual’s Professional Review and Development (PRD) process to help identify gaps in knowledge and skills at the Informed and Skilled levels.

Strategic leads could look across a whole school community or education authority for gaps in learning to identify appropriate professional learning. Or, specific, bespoke professional learning needs could be identified for individuals based on the evidence gathered from the process of using the framework. From this, professional learning to meet any gaps in learning can be identified.

Next in the process is plugging the professional learning gaps with quality assured professional learning at the Informed and Skilled levels such as the following:

Further professional learning to support the wellbeing of children and young people includes:

The Mental health & wellbeing wakelet is a collection of links to materials that can be used to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. It includes signposts for practitioners, parents and carers and also direct supports for children and young people to access.

Wellbeing (children and young people)

Supporting learning and teaching

A wide range of resources to support learning and teaching are available, some of the quality assured resources can be found below.

These ‘Talking Mental Health’ (primary) and ‘We all Have Mental Health’ (secondary) animations are universal resources for primary school pupils and have accompanying materials for lessons, assemblies and role play sessions. These are freely available for use in Scottish schools.

Evaluating progress of wellbeing

The final stage of the cycle is evaluating progress of wellbeing.

There is an expectation for all areas of the curriculum that progress will be evidenced through the levels using the Experiences and Outcomes and the Curriculum for Excellence Benchmarks.

However, with mental, emotional, social & physical (MESP) the Experiences and Outcomes of fall within Responsibility of All. Here, progress is evaluated on a regular basis as progression is not linear and wellbeing fluctuates from day to day, week to week, month to month and as a result there are no progressive Benchmarks for Responsibility of All.

A wide range of tools are available to help evaluate the progress of learners.

This helpful Learner Wellbeing Matrix developed by The West Partnership provides a helpful overview of a range of tools to help evaluate progress in wellbeing, both for identifying universal and targeted needs.

Specifically, the Glasgow Motivation and Wellbeing Profile (GWWP) has been used widely and provides and easy to use 20 item questionnaire that explores motivation and wellbeing in a learning context. It provides a platform for children and young people to engage in dialogue about their emotions and it can also be used to identify next steps for individuals, whole class or whole school interventions and provide opportunities to measure progress of specific interventions over time.

Improvement questions

  • Consider the impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of staff children. What evidence have you gathered for specific interventions to support mental wellbeing needs?
  • How are you ensuring that the learning resources and wider approaches are supporting development of a whole school approach to support the mental wellbeing of the school community?
  • How will you and your colleagues ensure nurturing principles and the wellbeing indicators are considered to support the positive wellbeing of children and young people?


PowerPoint presentation: Cycle of Wellbeing (208 KB)