5 Ways to Wellbeing in Schools

5 ways to wellbeing in schools
The 5 Ways to Wellbeing in Schools is a set of evidence based health messages that have been used in schools to great affect - not only improving wellbeing but also improving academic results.

Table of Contents

What are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing?

The Five Ways to Wellbeing in schools – ConnectBe ActiveTake NoticeKeep LearningGive – are simple and proven actions that schools can introduce to help their staff and students find balance, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing.

They are a set of evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population.

They were developed by New Economics Foundation as the result of a commission by Foresight, the UK Governmen’s futures think-tank, as part of the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. They are recommended by the NHS.


Strengthening relationships with others and feeling close to and valued by others, including at school, is critical to boosting wellbeing.

Be Active

Be Active

Being physically active, including
at school, improves physical health and can improve mood and wellbeing and decrease stress, depression and anxiety

Take Notice

Paying more attention to the present moment, to thoughts and feelings and to the world around, boosts our wellbeing.

Take Notice
keep Learning

Keep Learning

Being curious and seeking out new experiences at work and in life more generally positively stimulates the brain


Carrying out acts of kindness, whether small or large, can increase happiness, life satisfaction and general sense of wellbeing.


Using the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in Schools:

SLT and staff engagement is the most important factor to improve wellbeing in school for students and staff. 

• With SLT support, your actions to improve the wellbeing of your school are much, more likely to be effective. 

• If school staff also model the behaviours, it makes the message more attainable or ‘real’ for students.

Ideas to Connect more in School

  • Appoint Student Wellbeing Ambassadors –
    • to act as greeters’ at the gate in the morning to welcome their peers into school with a smile; and/or
    • to run a ‘Worry Box’ system in each classroom which the Wellbeing Ambassadors check weekly and perhaps replying in a monthly wellbeing newsletter.
  • ‘Being in someone else’s shoes’: help students to understand and relate to differences.
  • Empathy project: encouraging students to connect more with people they don’t know.

Ideas to Improve Learning in Schools

  • Have a music day where teachers and students who can play an instrument offer to help others try out new instruments
  • Have a language day where teachers and students who can speak a different language teach some words – hello, goodbye and thank you. 
  • Have a culture day where teachers and students who are experienced in a different culture explain some of their customs, beliefs or celebrations. 
  • Encourage students to learn a new skill at home and to share photos of them doing this skill. 

Ideas to Improve Being Active in Schools

  • Sports Ambassadors leading games during lunchtime such as: basketball, football, hula-hooping, and skipping. 
  • Run a ‘Be Active’ day during Healthy Living Week including activities such as dance (using a free trial of Cyber Coach), an obstacle course and a treasure hunt
  • Create a gardening club
  • Have yoga sessions for staff after school 

Ideas to Give more in Schools

  • Promote a local recycling project or charity which the school is supporting
  • Charity events – fancy dress day, comic relief,…
  • Monthly thank you notes to colleagues, fellow students and teachers

Ideas to Take Notice more in Schools

  • Put a range of prompt questions up around school to encourage everyone to take notice of others’ emotions such as: can you find someone who looks happy today or someone that needs help?
  • Ask what is happening in the school environment? Are there roadworks? Is there a new shop? What is happening in the town centre? Is there a new member of staff or student? Is there a new display? 
  • Ask what is happening in the world?  Good stories as well as bad. Climate change. Women’s rights.
  • Compare the UK to other countries. Free education. Free healthcare. 

Lead the Way

  • Create a shared sense of purpose — clearly communicate your vision for improving the wellbeing in your school and take colleagues and students along for the journey.
  • Really listen — ask your colleagues what they think about the Five Ways to Wellbeing before implementing and really TAKE NOTICE  of what they say.
  • Consistent messaging — champion the Five Ways through staff emails, notice boards, and talk about the Five Ways.
  • Lead by example — introduce the Five Ways into your life – take a break, be active and go for a walk, connect and say thank you and talk to friends, notice the trees and clouds and sky, learn something new everyday and give your help and time when needed.
  • Show them how: 
    • Take Notice of people’s efforts and hard work
    • Give credit when it’s due and your time when it’s needed.
    • Create a culture of continuous learning and provide opportunities for people to grow
    • Connect with staff and strengthen relationships & build trust.
    • Schedule time in your diary for exercise and be active.


This is a useful way of checking whether the Five Ways are being used in your school. 

  • Give – Is there a culture of work being acknowledged and appreciation being 
    expressed, both formally and informally?
  • Learn – Is management and leadership training available and encouraged? Are teams provided with opportunities to learn new skills?
  • Take notice — are staff noticing and raising issues at an appropriate level and time or are issues being avoided or glossed over. 
  • Be Active –  Is there support for colleagues to find time to exercise?
  • Connect – Do your staff respect and support one another? Are there systems in place for managing conflict?

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