There are very few people that would take any issue whatsoever with staff wellbeing being seen as a key priority in schools. Indeed, probably next to concern about school budgets, workload and the impact it has on the wellbeing of staff is generally recognised as the most pressing issue of the day in education.
But, recognising that there is a significant problem and actually doing something constructive about the issue that will have a genuine impact, are two quite different things. What’s more, with no let-up in either the budgetary constraints schools are under or the pressure of inspections, it’s difficult to see how schools might move forward and make real headway in dealing with staff wellbeing concerns.
But even with limited resources, if there is a will there is a way when it comes to addressing teacher wellbeing.
Creating a culture of positivity
In the busy day-to-day of school life, it can be difficult to catch a minute’s breath. However, saying thank you doesn’t cost anything. In schools where the leadership takes the time to genuinely and sincerely thank staff for their efforts and to celebrate particular achievements, a culture of positivity is created. Positivity breeds positivity and is contagious, so the importance of valuing staff should not be underestimated as its impact can be far-reaching.
Showing staff that they are truly valued runs deeper than simply thanking them for their work in public. Investing in staff and showing a genuine commitment to the development of teachers is equally important. CPD has to be of real value and high-quality – not just something that fills the slots on the school calendar. Involving staff in the delivery of CPD can boost engagement and wellbeing too.
Give staff a voice
Staff voice – rather like pupil voice – can sometimes smack of insincerity. Consultation can appear perfunctory at best, or merely a box-ticking exercise. However, when staff feel that they are genuinely being listened to, staff voice becomes extremely valuable indeed. It fosters a sense of belonging if teachers feel that they are a part of the decision-making in a school.
Promoting a social side to school
From organising a sports activity out of hours to a meeting in the pub on a Friday after school, there are plenty of ways that schools can foster a social element outside of the classroom and the staff room.
A supportive culture
Positivity is valuable but creating a supportive work environment is even more important. Every school is a high-pressure work environment. The pace and pressure of school is hectic and relentless. It’s unrealistic to expect any of this to change dramatically any time soon. However, it can make a real difference if staff believe that everybody is in it together. The door that is always open and the colleague who is always approachable can do so much when it comes to giving staff wellbeing a much-needed boost.
None of these ideas require a massive investment of resources, only time. There is a very important message to be taken from that.
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