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Ask Andy – Blog 17

May 2021 and it’s time to put your wellbeing first.

As we approach half term of what has been a challenging school year and another tough half term, where you have given so much of yourself to school and the children in your care, it is time to refill your personal wellbeing reservoir. However, you do that, you need to take time for yourself before we embark on the final weeks of the school year. One of our directors, John Brady, came across this quote and it holds true especially towards the end of a term: “Self-care isn’t selfish. By caring for ourselves, we can better care for others.” As a professional who cares for others, investment in your own self care makes you more able to meet the needs of others.

If you are would like some support in making a wellbeing statement to your school community as a school leader, the DfE have created a Wellbeing Charter which you can find HERE.

There are some useful pointers in this document and some good downloads which help to promote a conversation at all levels throughout school and with all groups of staff.

We know that good staff wellbeing is linked to better outcomes for students and is more likely to keep teachers in the profession. However, there are a couple of really key points I’d like to make.

Firstly, as a senior leader be aware that wellbeing factors outside of school can have a significant impact on the ability of a member of staff to “be the best version of themselves professionally.” It makes sense to support staff with their overall wellbeing including that outside of school if it is likely to impact their performance inside school.

The second point that I’d make is that it is critical that either the senior leaders or the wellbeing lead in school, doesn’t take sole responsibility for the wellbeing of staff. Whilst the school can support and should support wellbeing, it is incumbent on every member of staff to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and have a mind to the wellbeing of others around them. It’s only when this happens can wellbeing be seen to be culturally embedded in the behaviour of actions of all those in school rather than a takeaway service where personal responsibility is abdicated and becomes a “done to” entitlement.

An often-heard question such as “What are you doing for my wellbeing?” should be replaced by “What am I doing for my own wellbeing and how might the school support me to be the very best version of myself personally and professionally?”

However, I am convinced that there is an overarching structure that can be put in place to support whole school mental health and wellbeing and it requires everyone in the school community to ask questions of themselves and I mean all stakeholders.

If we want our staff to be the best version of themselves so that our children get the very best education possible then all stakeholders have a part to play. The chart below can be amended to reflect the role that different stakeholders can play in supporting good wellbeing in the school community.

Unless we address the things in the red zone which sap wellbeing, anything we do positively to support wellbeing will have its effectiveness reduced. This version of the chart is designed for working with members of staff but imagine doing this with governors or parents and together, all sections of the school community can contribute to everybody’s wellbeing. It could then form part of a whole school pledge on a display to demonstrate how the community is working together to be the best they can be for the learners that they have such high aspirations for..

Finally, this month, I wanted to draw your attention to the launch of the Carnegie Mental Health and Wellbeing Leads community. You can learn more about the community by clicking here. 

This community has been drawn together as a branch of the work at Leeds Beckett University and has been sponsored by SAS and the BUPA Foundation.

We know that mental health and wellbeing lead teachers in schools often feel isolated, so the community has been drawn together to support leads in peer-to-peer support, conversations about the latest research, the co-design of new resources to support schools, the development of leadership skills in mental health and wellbeing and so much more.

The link to the community is above and it is FREE. We hope that you will join this community of practice and support each other in the increasingly important role that you have.

Have a wonderful break, recharge those batteries before we take on the final half term of what has been a turbulent year. If you would be interested in me delivering a training session for your school as an SAS client then do contact me as the days around the start of the new school year are being booked up quickly.



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.