Dr Julie Greer - Cherbourg Primary School
At a Governing Body meeting in 2017, one of Cherbourg Primary School’s governors asked “what is our role in supporting staff wellbeing and what can we do to help?”. This sparked a discussion about what governors should do in relation to staff wellbeing.
Wellbeing policy designed by staff and governors
The head teacher felt that the school’s existing approach to staff wellbeing was strong and innovative, with good relationships among staff, family friendly policies and the ability to earn days off in lieu of running activities out of school hours. The initial conclusion was that the day-to-day strategies and responses should be managed by SLT, and that monitoring the effectiveness of those procedures was the role of governors.
It was anticipated that staff would be pleased that governors had considered their wellbeing. The head teacher passed the message on to staff, explaining that they felt staff wellbeing was something the school was good at, but inviting staff to share if there was anything more they felt governors could do.
After a couple of weeks, the staff governor reported that some colleagues thought the subject had been passed over too quickly, and that the school could do more to support wellbeing. Staff felt communication was good but could be improved, and staff who had no management role felt they didn’t always have a voice. At first the head teacher found this difficult to hear, but upon reflection realised that they had been pre-emptive in believing everything was fine.
The head teacher apologised to staff for listening and not hearing on this subject and asked for ideas on what was working and what could be improved. The school then began to put together a wellbeing policy that would incorporate the views of staff, ensuring that it reflected the school’s practice and hopes for improvement. The draft policy was shared with staff and governors, and feedback and further suggestions were sought. Alongside the staff wellbeing policy, the school developed a positive mental health policy that would cover the whole school community.
The conversation on wellbeing is ongoing at Cherbourg Primary School. The school learned that rather than ticking the wellbeing box, it is more valuable to regularly hold up a mirror to their practice, addressing the blemishes as they occur and celebrating the successes!