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Whole school approaches to building resilience and promoting mental health:...

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UCL Institute of Education (IOE)

20 Bedford Way

Room W2.05

London

WC1H 0AL

United Kingdom

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Join us in this DLL Research seminar with Dr Josie Maitland (University of Brighton) to learn about her research on whole school and whole system approaches to build resilience and promoting mental health. The context specificity of such approaches has been widely accepted, although relatively little is understood about how change occurs and is sustained in complex school systems.

In this seminar, findings will be presented from the first two years of a whole county adaptation and implementation of a whole school approach to building resilience and promoting mental health called the Academic Resilience Approach (ARA).

The ARA is a whole school change process developed by Professor Angie Hart and Lisa Williams. The authors of the ARA reject individualised notions of ‘coping’ with adversity, which they argue maintain rather than challenge inequality. The ARA is instead based on a socio-ecological conceptualisation of resilience as a combination of individual and contextual factors that build capacity to not only overcome adversity, but to challenge the causes of adversity. The ARA is an iterative process of organisational change, involving auditing, preserving and generating contextual protective factors for the resilience of all members of the school community.

Data was collected from 18 schools involved the ARA in one local authority in the North of England, who developed a locally facilitated ARA model. An embedded sequential mixed method design was adopted to explore ways in which local authority (N=14) and school staff (N=123) perceived the existing school system to interact with the intervention, and to gather staff perceptions of change in the school climate. All staff in participating schools were invited to complete an online survey using the self-reported Staff Perceptions of School Climate scale (SPSC). In addition, semi-structured interviews were carried out with a subsample of 15 staff from 5 schools of varying role type, and a focus group was conducted with 5 members of local authority staff involved in planning and delivering the intervention.

Findings highlight the dynamic interaction between internal and external enabling and constraining factors throughout the change process, and the transformative potential of the systemic and co-productive approach. Aligning existing pressures and priorities with the whole school approach increased staff commitment and engagement, and was particularly important for school leaders. Shared values, increased communication and distributed leadership were perceived to be central to initiating and sustaining whole school change.

As a result of participation in the whole school approach, there was a statistically significant increase in staff perceptions of school climate, notably in relation to workload, leadership and participative decision making. School based examples will be discussed in order to illustrate the key themes of context, co-production, conservation, co-ordination and complexity. Findings suggest that sustainable approaches to building resilience and promoting mental health in schools will require the involvement of a range of stakeholders across multiple levels of the school system in co-ordinated and co-productive approaches to planning, implementation and evaluation.

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UCL Institute of Education (IOE)

20 Bedford Way

Room W2.05

London

WC1H 0AL

United Kingdom

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