Supporting schools to address health and wellbeing needs

The Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE)

SHINE Network Manager Dawn Haughton blogs for PINS.  

The Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE) provides a national infrastructure to support schools in addressing their health and wellbeing needs, with a focus on mental health, by using a data-driven, systems-level approach to health improvement.

SHINE is a research project funded by the Medical Research Council Mental Health Data Pathfinder Award led by Professor Daniel Smith at the University of Glasgow and is a collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews. Our membership has grown steadily to include 131 schools, spread across all 32 Local Authorities in Scotland and comprising secondary, primary, special and independent schools – everyone is welcome and, due to our funding, all SHINE resources, membership and events for schools are currently free.

In line with the National Improvement Framework 2020 document recommendations, SHINE offers schools support with improved data analysis and the use of data to inform planning for improvement. Through our partnership with the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, SHINE provides Scottish schools with up-to-date health and wellbeing data reports to facilitate targeted improvement planning in health and wellbeing. SHINE schools who participated in the 2018 HBSC data collection have been provided with school-level data reports focusing on mental health, social media use, bullying and cyberbullying, healthy eating and sleep health. Schools who didn’t participate in the survey received reports with data from the schools in their Regional Improvement Collaborative. The HBSC data contains valuable insights into the health and wellbeing of children and young people aged 11, 13, 15 years, from the nationally representative sample of 5,286 pupils who participated in 2018 survey.

We are currently conducting case studies in 4 Local Authorities to evaluate how schools have used their HWB report so far and to discuss how we can develop and further improve this resource in collaboration with pupils, teachers, senior leaders, key stakeholders and local authorities. Early feedback has been extremely positive with evident appreciation of the comprehensive range of questions asked in the survey, the clear, accessible and informative presentation of the report format, the gender split in the data graphs and the benchmarking against the regional collaborative data. Schools are using the data reports in a variety of ways:

  • to prioritize topics for inclusion in the PSE curriculum
  • to inform the school improvement plan
  • as the baseline for tracking and monitoring in health and wellbeing
  • to involve the wider school community in health and wellbeing action planning and responsibility.

We have used this feedback to inform the development of an online pupil mental health survey, which schools can use to track and monitor mental health in their school. Other surveys are planned on sleep, social media, school environment. This can be used with as many pupils as the school wishes with pupils aged between P6 and S6. The data is analysed by SHINE and fed back in a brief report in similar format to the initial health and wellbeing data reports. The aim is to empower the wider school community to use their own evidence to drive forward positive change

In addition, we have an annual network conference in May to facilitate the sharing of good practice in using data and research findings effectively across the national network. We offer our members the opportunity to interact with eminent health researchers through webinars on topics such as sleep and suicide and self-harm in young people. SHINE has released a series of research briefings to schools and invited schools to be involved in research projects, for example a feasibility study of sleep and mood in schoolchildren that makes use of wrist-worn actigraphs.Schools are still welcome to join the network as we continue to develop. If you would like further information about SHINE or the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey, please click on the links below. If you have specific questions, please contact the SHINE Network Manager at

The Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE)

The Mental Health Data Pathfinder Award

Twitter: @ScotlandShine