Your 6-point plan to support teacher wellbeing
Author Jacqui Webber-Gant
Date 15th Aug 2019
We all know how closely pupil attainment is linked with the wellbeing of school staff - happy, motivated teachers make happy, motivated and more confident pupils. Yet, the publication of the second Teacher Wellbeing Index has indicated a sharp rise in the poor mental health of school staff reporting that:
- 74% of teachers are unable to switch off and relax contributing to a negative work/life
- 65% of education professionals were not confident in disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health problems to their employer
- 57% of teachers have considered leaving the sector within the past two years because of health pressures.
A 6-point plan for school leaders
So what needs to change? The Index has reported that high workload, high levels of stress and the need for a better work/life balance are the main issues that need to be resolved to improve wellbeing for school staff.
Interestingly enough professionals working in special schools who responded in the survey were generally less stressed and more optimistic than their counterparts in other schools, although the recurring issues of high workload and poor work life balance were still raised.
With this in mind, the index makes the following recommendations for school leaders to help improve employee wellbeing in their school:
1) introduce a mandatory provision of personal mental health and wellbeing guidance within initial teacher training
2) regulators to prioritise staff wellbeing in their assessments and measure this against an evidence-based framework
3) annual staff surveys to become statutory in all schools and colleges with senior leaders acting on the issues identified in an open and transparent way
4) increased awareness, knowledge and signposting to external support services
5) access to an external Employee Assistance Programme for all staff in schools and colleges
6) access to facilitated peer support programmes for all leaders in schools and colleges.
Help and support
There is no one-size-fits-all solution and changing a school’s culture may take time, but school leaders can support staff wellbeing in a number of ways. Establishing a benchmark in employee mental health through a staff survey is a great start and will allow a clear direction of travel. This will also provide a year on year measure of improvement and impact.
Secondly, it’s vital to provide good training and development opportunities for staff at every level. Often, opportunities can be reduced due to increasing budget pressures, however, studies show that continuing professional development increases job satisfaction and contributes to good health and wellbeing.
Finally, giving staff immediate access to a range of support services including counselling and management support will further support your employees and help make a happier school environment for staff and pupils.
School leaders and teachers can visit Mentally Healthy Schools for more help and support on supporting staff wellbeing.
Read and download a copy of the 2018 Teacher Wellbeing Index.
Supporting Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools
About the author
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