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Ask Andy – Blog 1

Making a Difference!

I’d like to begin my first blog post by wishing you a belated happy new year and sincerely hope that you got chance for a bit of a break over Christmas which is always a very busy time.

For me it was a chance to reflect on a career in schools spanning 30 years and 3 local authorities, and leaving a headship of 17 years in one Blackpool school. In that time we have moved the school into a new building, grown to 2 forms of entry and have improved teaching and learning to a point where Ofsted recognised us as outstanding in 2016. As a school community we wanted to do more with the outstanding tag so we set up a teaching school to help to support schools in Blackpool. Although I’m working with Schools Advisory Service for 4 days per week I still have a day leading the Blackpool Teaching School Alliance to help keep me grounded in what matters to learners and educators.

Once the Christmas party was done and I’d cleared my desk and then wiped away a few tears I began to reflect on the reasons for me leaving the profession I’d gone into in 1988.

Like most in education, I didn’t go into the profession to get rich but really wanted to make a difference to the children I taught. Working in a town like Blackpool that sense of mission is ever more important. We tell the ITT trainees that we bring through the teaching school that working in places like Blackpool is about a sense of mission. It’s about social justice and giving those learners who often haven’t had the most advantaged start in life, a chance to climb back to a place where they can compete for the best jobs with those who’ve had a more privileged start in life.

It was the sense of wanting to make a difference that drove me on to standing for National President for NAHT. I’m really not bothered about titles, what motivates me is giving children and young people every chance of succeeding in life. Every step I’ve taken in education is about just that; making a difference. It’s why I’m still involved in education and why I still want to be involved as a board member for the Opportunity Area in Blackpool and the Blackpool School Improvement Board. Our profession is full of people like this who want to make a difference to the children that they work with daily and my Presidential year allowed me the privilege of meeting some of them and their schools.

Making a Difference is what motivated the career change I embarked upon at Christmas. I’ve seen first hand how some schools have invested in the wellbeing of their most expensive resource, their staff, at a time when more is being asked of staff than at any time before. I’ve seen how some governing boards have developed the wellbeing of their school leaders and the Headteacher/ Principal, (often a forgotten staff member) to ensure that their wellbeing needs are met and that they are in a position to support their staff.

Critically Schools Advisory Service understand that if pupil needs aren’t met, this affects the wellbeing of staff. To this end they work with Mable Therapy to support schools to get the speech and language therapy they need for their children to allow the children to reach their potential. In secondary schools Jamie Peacock is doing fabulous work to get students to understand the pre-requisites for their own wellbeing, sleep, exercise, good nutrition and good decision by developing Be A Champion.

At a time when we are rightly concerned about staff and pupil mental health and wellbeing, Schools Advisory Service (SAS) are stepping up to the plate and have spent £4 million on wellbeing in schools in 2018/19.

My role will be to curate what works well and devise programmes to further support schools and school leaders around developing not only wellbeing activities but a whole wellbeing culture in schools which is right for our staff and pupils but is increasingly recognised by Ofsted and DfE.

I want to build a wellbeing offer that is right for schools and to a certain extent saves schools from the legwork of looking around for wellbeing support. SAS will be building this programme with me which comes as free as part of their budget protection insurance.

I’ll be writing this blog at least on a monthly basis so subscribe to it now and it’ll drop into your email inbox.

If you’d like to know more about the services above and the counselling we offer please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01773 814 400.

As your biggest and most valuable resource why wouldn’t you invest in the wellbeing of your staff so that they have their wellbeing needs met and are as effective as they can be.

Ask Andy

If you have questions about wellbeing practice, would like to suggest future content for Andy's blogs or if you are having success with wellbeing culture in your school and would like to share your story, please complete the form below.