Being locked down with our children due to COVID-19 restrictions, and having to play role of teacher as well as parent, made many of us appreciate what teachers do for our children and young people, perhaps more than ever before. We were faced with having to occupy, entertain, and educate while attempting to get on with our other jobs, look after our own mental health and maintain our own levels of wellbeing.
The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter
On the 11th May this year, the government published the education staff wellbeing charter. This is ‘a declaration of support and set of commitments to the wellbeing and health of everyone working in education’ 1.
Introducing the charter, the government recognises that protecting the wellbeing and mental health of staff is essential for improving morale and productivity and critical to recruiting and retaining quality professionals 1. According to the latest DfES data, almost a third of teachers leave the profession within five years of qualifying.
The charter is optional for schools to sign up to and includes 12 commitments on education staff wellbeing by DfE and Ofsted. It’s being promoted as a tool for schools and colleges to create, and publicly commit to, their own wellbeing strategies and as a declaration to protect, promote and enhance the wellbeing and mental health of everyone working in state education.
The government has made its intentions clear that the charter should ‘send a message to everyone working in schools and colleges that their wellbeing and mental health matters’, but there isn’t any specific guidance of how schools should go about this or any commitment of extra time given for staff to practise wellbeing.
Staff Wellbeing and Pupil Wellbeing go Hand in Hand
At Worth-it we agree absolutely that staff wellbeing should be developed, and their health protected, but we don’t see staff wellbeing as isolated from student wellbeing. Without teacher wellbeing, how can student wellbeing ever fully be realised and vice versa? Teacher wellbeing creates a stable environment for students. Teaching can be a stressful profession and teachers who feel highly stressed or anxious can struggle to manage their own wellbeing alongside the workload of the profession and are more likely to take time off ill and perhaps even leave the job for good. Students who have built strong relationships with a teacher who subsequently leaves can be adversely affected in terms of their own feelings of wellbeing.
A school where student wellbeing is at the forefront will see the ripple effect through the whole school: as behaviour improves less stress is put onto teachers. Support teacher wellbeing at the same time and teachers are more able to support students in all aspects of their school lives. “What’s in the students’ best interests is also likely to be in the interests of teacher wellbeing”. 2 Staff wellbeing is vital to maintain school communities and increase the sense of belonging, connection, and acceptance that young people need. In a survey by Wellbeing Australia (2011) over 96% of respondents (teachers and school principals) agreed that a focus on teacher wellbeing also promotes student wellbeing.2
Improving Wellbeing is a Dynamic Process
Worth-it specialise in early prevention and intervention of mental health problems for children and young people. Through over a decade of research and practice, we’ve found that the most effective way to develop young people’s mental health is to work with whole school communities and that improved staff wellbeing can result in improved student wellbeing and vice versa. For example, improving staff mental health has a positive impact on pupil mental health. While developing pupil mental health improves behaviour which in turn reduces staff stress. This is a dynamic process which, once the necessary conditions have been put in place, becomes self-sustaining.
The Solution a Whole School Approach to Wellbeing
Our whole school approach to wellbeing recognises that schools are already on their journey of whole school mental health. We work with schools to build on the effective practice they already have in place, strengthening these areas and addressing any gaps in provision.
Our whole school system for wellbeing enables schools to create capacity through up-skilling staff to develop their own wellbeing as well as their students’. We provide training, tools, and resources for schools to feel confident and able to effectively support children develop positive mental health, and support schools through the process of developing whole school mental health.
We can Support Staff and Student Wellbeing in your School or College
Staff and student wellbeing are not mutually exclusive. At Worth-it we support a whole school approach to wellbeing. To find out more about how we can support your school improve wellbeing in staff and students, get in touch.
Here at Worth-it, we are committed to helping schools develop whole school wellbeing in a way that suits the needs of their pupils, staff and whole school community. If you are not sure where to start or how to develop the wellbeing of your pupils you may find our FREE downloadable workshop helpful.
Want to learn more?
Access our free discovery workshop for mental health leads.