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Ask Andy – Blog 6

Building back better!

Why wellbeing has to sit alongside attainment and progress moving forwards and the arrival of the National Wellbeing Partnership.

The COVID-19 pandemic and how it interacts with school life as we have come to know it has seen a series of phases emerge as we move through it.

Initially, we had lockdown for all apart from keyworkers and those who were vulnerable. More recently we have seen the return of more children and this step by step and then monitor for outbreak spikes is the only way to go. I think in future we will see more local control and lockdowns to contain spikes more locally.

We then had a national debate about the possibility of schools opening over the summer. In all truth, if school staff are going to able to cope with whatever September brings, they need a break. Thankfully that seems to have been acknowledged and the profession can look forward to nourishing their wellbeing over the summer break.

For schools and school leaders, September will bring a new phase. One where the current mood music from government suggests that every effort will be made to ensure that all pupils will be back in school. The end to official shielding at the end of July will mean that those staff in school who were previously unable to return to teaching will be encouraged to do so.

However, one thing that we must retain is the desire to build positive wellbeing into our lives as staff and pupils. This needn’t come at the expense of improved standards, indeed there is very strong evidence to suggest that improved wellbeing leads to improved standards. If staff and pupils feel well then it stands to reason that they will perform better. However, we need to be clear what we mean by wellbeing. Wellbeing means a better quality of life, it means that staff and pupils flourish and develop a sense of life purpose.

Therefore we can’t just go back to the way things were done before as we know that the pre-COVID world saw teachers and school leaders leaving in record numbers, mental health services swamped by too many children and young people who were unable to cope with the demands of the education system we have created.

Our system going forward needs to recognise and reward schools for their wellbeing support and the way that they enable staff and pupils to flourish. However, we can’t allow this to be imposed or judged by a punitive accountability system.

This leads me on to what I believe is the future. The National Wellbeing Partnership developed by SAS was launched two weeks ago and is a group of organisations committed to making a difference to wellbeing and the quality of life that we experience in our schools, both for staff and pupils. Click the banner below to learn more about the partnership and the organisations current a part of it.

The partnership platform allows school to survey staff through a range of providers and build a bespoke wellbeing offer for their school based on need and context. Some of the practice contained within the site is inspirational and innovative and, if you’re an SAS customer, you might find that there are discounts for you as a customer of ours.

The key factor with all of these providers is that they all offer quality and want to make a difference to wellbeing in schools. For the first time there is now a place to go to access the wellbeing support that you want for your staff and pupils. If your staff and pupils are mentally and physically well, they will perform better and this can only lead to higher standards for pupils.

So in terms of building back better, the conversation is not about standards or wellbeing, you can have both and having both means that standards will rise.

In the coming weeks we will have an advanced search facility on the site so that you can search the site for particular tags which will make it even easier to access.

Please do spread the word as this is meant to be a supportive tool for schools as we rebuild towards a better future for our staff and children.

If you would like to share wellbeing best practice at your school or would like any advice in relation to promoting a better whole school wellbeing culture – please contact me at askandy@uk-sas.co.uk 

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.