Knowledge Exchange: Improving Wellbeing in Schools with Connected Belonging

Posted in: Knowledge Exchange

Groups of people sat around tables at an event

Over 60 Practitioners from local Mental Health Support Teams, schools and councils joined Ceri Brown, Michael Donnelly and Alison Douthwaite for a half-day workshop to explore Connected Belonging; a research-informed framework for supporting well-being and Mental Health in schools. The session introduced attendees to Connected Belonging and the underpinning research programme before supporting them to explore its practical relevance within their own settings.

To maximise ongoing impact beyond the event itself, the research team produced a short video introducing Connected Belonging which was launched at the event. As well as hosting the video on the University of Bath Vimeo site, it was also uploaded to an online forum regularly used by the practitioners attending: Wiltshire Health Schools website. This supports attendees to share learning with colleagues or partners and enables them to cascade more easily in subsequent staff-training. You can watch the video below:

Practitioner Video - Introduction to Connected Belonging on Vimeo


Connected Belonging is a relational and identity focused approach to enhancing well-being support in schools. Principles to shape whole-school well-being approaches and examples of activities and initiatives which schools can adopt and adapt were shared to inspire discussion, reflection and collaborative planning. The approach grows out of a six year programme of research.

The event was also an opportunity to explore routes to deepening and extending impact. As well as identifying key partners who were enthusiastic to collaborate on further trialling and evaluation of the approach in their settings, the team also connected with networks and individuals with valuable insights to further develop the Connected Belonging model. Jemima Cooper, a PhD Researcher investigating the impact of physical activity on Mental Health and well-being, supported the team to capture impact throughout the event as participants discussed, fed back and planned activities together.

Man standing by windows with a group of pink post it notes in front of himFeedback from the event was highly positive. As well as specific approaches regarding collaboration, comments highlighted how well-received the session was. One School Well-being lead commented, “really clear, solid information, very well delivered and pitched.” Another attendee felt it was “useful research, clearly explained.” One attendee was so enthused, they said the session “inspired me to research masters opportunities in relation to mental health in young people.”

The event was funded by the University of Bath Impact Fund.


Schools across Wiltshire and BANES will be trialling Connected Belonging with their pupils from September 2023. If you would like to be involved in these trials, to find out more about Connected Belonging or are interested to discuss ways you could be involved, please contact Alison Douthwaite on or Ceri Brown on

Posted in: Knowledge Exchange


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