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Ask Andy – Blog 22

Wellbeing for all, that raises standards!

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed a well-deserved break from the pressures of school especially at times like these which are the most draining that I can ever remember.

Of course, when you are drained and reach a break, you need to reinvest in your own personal resources to ensure that you are ready for the challenge of the half term from November to Christmas. I know from having worked in the profession for over 30 years, that as professionals you always put the children and their families first but when we get to a break especially, we need to prioritise ourselves. Self-care isn’t selfish and is crucial if we are to be the best version of ourselves in the term ahead for ourselves, our families, and our schools.

At SAS we are continually looking at ways that we help to support our schools better and this continual striving for improvement means that we have the most comprehensive suite of services available to schools ever.

We can now add two further services that are coming on stream to support pupils and school leadership in the new year which are really exciting and will make a huge difference to schools who have policies with us.

Firstly, we will be rolling out FREE training on Positive Education for SAS schools which are based on the British Psychology Association approved Everyday Magic programme run by Julie Hurst. I and a number of other headteachers have seen this work have a huge impact on pupil wellbeing and outcomes and teacher retention with some teachers describing it as the best CPD in 25 years. Julie’s work is based on the PERMA concept originally brought to us by Martin Seligman. This work, partly because of cost, has largely been the preserve of independent schools and there are some great examples of where this has worked really well at Geelong Grammar School in Australia for example.

My view has always been that I came into the profession to educate the whole child and not just for academic outcomes, but we have seen a really reductive approach being promoted nationally which damages the life chances of all pupils but especially those who need a broader personal development offer the most. Those children who might not get the sort of support children from more affluent and privileged backgrounds get.

Children from less privileged backgrounds often arrive in school with significant traumas and stresses which fires their brains into fight or flight mode and in this mode, they aren’t physiologically able to learn. Wellbeing approaches such as Positive Education help to calm the part of the brain that initiates fight or flight and allows those children to access learning by giving them strategies to self-regulate.

We will be advertising this offer before Christmas so reading this blog gives you a heads up that if you’d like to know more and even take advantage of this FREE offer which we believe is crucial in support pupil wellbeing then please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you’d like to know more then you can access these videos to find out more.

Simon Ward is an Educational Psychologist based on the Wirral and recorded this 50-minute video which explains Positive Education to other educators. Click here to watch the video.

Simon also did 4 webinars for us last year under the title of “Facing September with a Plan” that plan being Positive Education and you can watch these back on our site by clicking here.

Secondly, we know that school leaders have felt the pressure of the pandemic hugely over the last two years and are working on a number of initiatives to support their mental health and wellbeing. I’d like to commend the school leader wellbeing/ chair of governors’ conversation starter document that we have co-created with NGA as this is a really useful starting point to discuss your wellbeing as a head or CEO with the chair of governors or trust board.

It isn’t a tick list for the chair but a serious attempt to try to provide a structure to a conversation about your wellbeing with those who have direct responsibility for your wellbeing.

The final piece of exciting news is that we can now offer the leaders of our SAS schools a wellbeing insight into your own wellbeing, with some suggestions as to how you might improve your own wellbeing further. The survey is private and confidential to you as a school leader. It isn’t a diagnosis but a chance for you to analyse your own wellbeing so that you can be the best version of yourself for you. Quite often headteachers especially, ask what is available for their wellbeing, and this is for you and other senior leaders who have been the ones trying to support the wellbeing of their staff, often at cost to their own wellbeing. Remember that looking after your wellbeing is key to being able to support others and within this toolkit, there is an opportunity to explore how you amplify wellbeing across your setting.

If you are an SAS school, then this product is FREE to you as another attempt to try to support you and your school through these most difficult of times. Again, if you are interested in finding out more than please do contact me.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for what you are doing in supporting the learners and their families through these tough times. Times are difficult but we are here to support you in every way that we can. Do please get in touch if we can support you on your wellbeing journey which is more important now than ever.

Best wishes and good luck for the term ahead.

Andy –   Andy.mellor@uk-sas.co.uk

Ask Andy

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