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The importance of promoting staff wellbeing in schools

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Schoolchildren’s mental health remains a topic of much debate, is very closely monitored and, for the most part, has rigorous support programmes in place. And rightly so - the NSPCC reported that, last year, more than 5,600 counselling sessions of its Childline service about mental health were with children aged 11 or under ₁. But equally as important is the thriving mental health of the schoolteachers, leaders and support staff who work with the children every day of the academic year. It’s crucial the teaching profession is appropriately equipped to play its pivotal part in offering what, sadly, can sometimes turn out to be life-saving support to our schoolchildren. 

Here, we highlight why promoting staff wellbeing in schools is the first step to achieving a resilient workforce that’s well-equipped to helm a mentally healthy school.

Positive mental health breeds positive mental health

Supporting staff wellbeing in schools has never been more important. Staffing is a school’s biggest outlay and most valuable asset – and like in any other workplace, so long as staff feel valued, fulfilled and happy in their work, they’re motivated to do the best possible job. In the case of the school setting, teachers, leaders and other staff must feel their needs are being met and that their mental health is fighting fit to, in turn, be able to offer emotional and practical support in view of their pupils’ wellbeing. 

To put it simply, mentally healthy staff can more capably support and nurture mentally healthy students – and more quickly spot the signs of those struggling. The sad truth is that one in six children aged between six and 16 in England are now likely to have a mental health condition. A school’s teaching provision is ideally placed to spot early warning signs of vulnerabilities in children – provided their own wellbeing isn’t suffering.

What is school staff wellbeing and when might it suffer?

Staff wellbeing is the term given to employees’ overall mental, physical and emotional health – and whether it’s good or poor can be inextricably linked to the environment they work in.  Teaching can be tough. Although extremely rewarding, the day-to-day pressures of a teaching role can take their toll emotionally and physically. Juggling demands, deadlines and managing children’s behaviour can all impact negatively on teachers’ and school staff’s wellbeing. According to Mind, nearly two thirds (60%) of employees said they would feel more motivated if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing. Given the responsibility and position of trust teachers and school senior leaders are in, the education sector must prioritise workplace wellbeing. At every single juncture. 

School staff wellbeing ideas

Ideas for staff wellbeing in schools needn’t be costly or a drain on an already time-poor workforce. A school that prioritises wellbeing in an approach for all (so strategies for school staff as well as pupils) is usually one to thrive, with content staff and achieving students. Staff wellbeing really is key to a school’s success. Wellbeing resources for schools are a great place to start in improving the general ethos of a school if it’s realised a culture change may be required over some time. Start small: 

Normalise conversations about mental health. Reduce stigma in schools by fostering an open environment in which staff and students alike feel able to talk about concerns and anything causing them distress.

Hand it back to the staff. Ask for feedback and comments on what their career goals and ambitions are, as well as what they need to help them feel a sense of purpose and feel valued, for example. Once you can be sure teachers and staff are feeling motivated and committed to the role, only then can you be assured they’re at their most productive. Doing this also ensures the school supports diversity and inclusion and gives everyone a forum to be heard. 

Invest in a workplace wellbeing programme. Schools can measure satisfaction among the workforce more accurately and, importantly, act quickly on any issues, if there’s a platform in place to assess the happiness of all employees. The Govox wellbeing platform and solutions aren’t just for pupils. Get the tools to really understand employees’ thoughts and feelings and pinpoint those struggling and in need of support. 

Prioritise help and support. Every school should have a staff wellbeing strategy, which has been contributed to by all the key groups within the school. But at the very least, in terms of supporting staff wellbeing in schools, workshops and learning and support sessions can go a long way to providing employees with tactics to manage stress and avoid burnout, for example. 

Think your school could improve the wellbeing of its staff and students? Discover how to support wellbeing in and out of the classroom with Govox. 

  1.  https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/childrens-mental-health/


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