Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing resource launched

28th November 2018 By: Michelle Cunliffe

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Today the Anna Freud Centre publishes Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing to promote staff wellbeing in schools.

The resource is a co-production between the Centre and members of its Schools in Mind learning network who contributed to a consultation on staff wellbeing to which 684 members responded. In addition the Centre carried out a survey with the Teacher Tapp app and received over 2400 responses.

Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing follows the call by the charity to make this year a year of wellbeing for school staff. The resource, co-produced by school staff, aims to support senior leaders in schools to promote wellbeing. This resource also aims to reflect on the concerns raised, share best practice case studies of approaches adopted by schools, and to raise questions for consideration so that school leaders can think about the way forward in their settings.

The findings show that over 60% of staff felt that their work/life balance had caused them unhappiness and stress over the previous fortnight and that almost a fifth (19%) of school staff who responded to the consultation felt that their work never has a positive impact on their mental wellbeing.

In the resource it is acknowledged that some issues such as funding cannot be resolved by a wellbeing approach. However the report highlights ten steps that schools can take to address wellbeing and supports it with examples from schools who contributed to the resource.

While acknowledging that school budgets are stretched, the resource highlights that staff surveys can offer an opportunity to gauge staff wellbeing levels and to encourage open approaches to supporting staff. Having a mental wellbeing policy that includes staff wellbeing rather than purely focusing on pupil wellbeing is another step that schools can take. Less than a quarter of staff in the consultation said that such a policy is in place in their school.

Responses to the consultation suggest that workload and work-life balance, along with concerns about pastoral issues relating to pupils, represent challenges to the mental health and wellbeing of school staff. The respondents suggest that addressing workload would make the single biggest contribution toward improving staff wellbeing.

Jaime Smith, Director of the Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools Programme at the Anna Freud Centre, says: “Concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is currently in the public spotlight, but any conversation about supporting children’s wellbeing must include how we support our teachers.

“We must do more to support school leaders, teachers and other school staff to ensure that their mental health and wellbeing is prioritised. If we don’t recognise the importance of this we will fail not only the staff, but the children and young people they support.

“Teaching is a tough job. It can be immensely rewarding but also physically and emotionally draining. The hours can be long and the workload and pressure great. Promoting mental wellbeing among staff is vital if they are to do the best they can to support their pupils to learn and thrive.

“The huge response that we received to this consultation tells us that education professionals have much to say and share about their own wellbeing in school. These findings give us a strong and encouraging foundation for exploring the best way forward to ensure that our schools are ‘wellbeing schools’, prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of the whole school community.

Download the resource, Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing, and download our booklet, Supporting Staff Wellbeing in Schools