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Rachel Bostwick is the Senior Partnership and Enterprise Consultant based at the Carnegie School of Education. She leads the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools

Planning for a culture of positive mental health

The impact of poor mental health on society is all too often reflected in our schools.

Issues with mental health and wellbeing can stifle aspiration and prevent children from achieving their full potential. They put pressure on teachers too, preventing them from becoming the inspiring, creative educators they joined the profession to be. Schools have an increasingly important role to play in addressing this.

More than four hundred thousand under-18s were referred for specialist mental health support between April and October 2021 – that’s 1 in 6 children in every classroom, the highest number on record. But with services such as CAMHS under significant and growing pressure, only 1 in 3 (32%) children will get the help they need.

Emotional issues can affect the adults in school too. In just about every staff room, there’ll be a teacher feeling huge pressure to ensure their pupils catch up with lost learning or at high risk of workload burnout.

Most schools have effective strategies in place to provide support for pupils and staff as issues arise. But senior leaders are increasingly looking for more effective ways to reduce the negative impact mental health difficulties can have on the whole school community.

Planning for a culture of positive mental health

Here are some basic steps schools can take to understand what the issues and priorities are in your school and how you can plan for a culture of positive mental health

  • Capture pupil and staff views
  • Update school policies and procedures
  • Create a mental health lead*
  • Put measures in place to monitor impact

At the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, we are currently working with over 3,000 schools nationally and internationally. Utilising a developmental framework allows schools to evaluate current mental health practices, identify gaps, develop and strengthen these and work towards building an emotionally healthier environment. Through this process, schools commit to making mental health a strategic priority and developing a positive culture that promotes mental well-being for everyone.

Schools who purchase SAS services can access both the School Mental Health Award and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead Governor training free of charge as part of their Wellbeing package.

*DfE funding is available for every school in England to access Senior Mental Health Lead Training. Please visit the website: https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/smhltraining. Courses are online.


Partner Blog – Maternity Webinars with CM Talent

CM Talent was established in 2018 by Nishi Mehta to help employers attract, retain, and develop diverse and inclusive teams and nurture their wellbeing. They are one of the Schools Advisory Service partners who offer services aimed at removing barriers to professional success and strategically support the development of more women leaders and closing the gender pay gap. In this blog, Nishi discusses how, via SAS, she’s supported new parents and carers transition between their changing personal and professional lives.

From personal experience, Nishi knows what it is like to be unsupported by your workplace as a new parent. Her knowledge of this, particularly how to re-launch back to work after a career break, is her motivation for coaching parents and carers to develop their careers around family life and to re-discover their values and purpose.

Working with SAS, Nishi developed a series of maternity webinars, designed to provide support, advice, and guidance to parents/carers before, during, and after their family care leave. These webinars have been created to enable smooth transitions throughout their period of leave, bridging the often-conflicting demands of work and becoming a new parent whilst providing support to adjust to your new role as a parent (whether this is your first child, second or more).

Without guidance, this time can be difficult to navigate. Prior to the challenge of lockdown, Nishi frequently encountered unsupported parents and carers reporting feelings of loneliness, isolation, and fear, in conversations and on social media.

During lockdown, more than 50% of adults said that their mental health worsened. Parents, in particular, experienced a difficult time as they had to navigate new work demands on top of supporting children with home schooling without support for their health and wellbeing.

Research by the mental health charity MIND found that 1 in 3 adults didn’t access support during lockdown because they didn’t think they were entitled to it. This is something organisations can offer as a standard for their team, ensuring everyone feels supported when returning to work or office spaces, and was behind the implementation of the maternity webinars at SAS.

Nishi believes that guaranteeing a strategy and process to sustain mental health support in the long term should be a priority. Before the pandemic, people who already experienced mental illness reported a significant increase in the severity of their symptoms. As they struggle to cope, their work and home life also suffer as a result.

The impact of mental illness can’t be overlooked by organisations who want to offer the proper support for their staff. Providing support when staff need it most is a great starting point for recognising when your team need help. SAS’s Maternity Webinars give employees the opportunity to share their experiences and aspirations in an informal, safe, and confidential space online.

The maternity webinars have now supported numerous employees, including Lianna Williamson, who says:

“After receiving the introductory email, I downloaded the SAS app.

While exploring the app I found their live webinars, and the Maternity Monday webinar caught my attention. My maternity leave had just started and I wanted to learn more. CM Talent, who delivered the course, provided me with more information and I registered for the session.

They made us all feel relaxed from the first minute. They created a safe environment for us to share our parenting experiences and express any worries or concerns we had. CM talent provided valuable information about the return-to-work process, especially the importance of having a positive support network at home, and how helpful keep-in-touch days are.

These webinars are helpful and supportive to teachers on maternity leave, I would recommend them to anyone.

To find out more, please head over to https://cmtalent.co.uk/ or contact Nishi at nishi@cmtalent.co.uk to find out more about SAS’s Maternity Webinars.

Tackling the ‘Male Menopause’

As Mike stated previously in pt.1 – the Andropause is a decline in testosterone as men get older. This is indeed very much exacerbated by our lifestyles and a combination of regular exercise and some sensible, healthy supplementation can combat any slight decline effectively. Certain types of exercise boost hormones such as testosterone and HGH (Human Growth Hormone).

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Natural Supplementation

The supplement industry is certainly one that is booming but, as a consumer, you’re swamped with suggestions of things to take that will transform your health, life and fitness levels. Much of this is pumped up marketing (pardon the pun!) and many “wonder supps” are far from the must-haves they seem to be and some are even potentially harmful. Men and women do share common needs for the same vitamins and minerals but, due to the differences in hormone levels and physiology, there are some differences worth taking into consideration. Hormonal balance can affect mood and energy levels and even impact your body composition. I have compiled a short list of two key supplements that can assist male health and hormone balance.


Zinc – Zinc helps to support normal testosterone levels. Low testosterone can cause all kinds of unpleasant effects such as low libido, fatigue, loss of muscle mass and even erectile dysfunction. There are several reasons why your testosterone levels might drop but, as Mike noted in his blog, there is generally a natural decline in males from the age of 30 onwards.

Getting enough zinc in your system could slow this dip in testosterone and, if it’s caused by another reason, increasing your zinc intake could still help! Normalising your testosterone levels can then help to correct some of the problems I mentioned previously which are hallmarks of the andropause.

Zinc promotes a healthy prostate. Prostate issues are more common in older men but it’s never too early to start looking after your prostate! Problems such as BPH (an enlarged prostate) and Prostatitis (an inflamed and swollen prostate) can cause undesirable symptoms and negatively impact on day to day living. Side effects such as frequent urination, weak urine stream, difficulty urinating and sudden urges to urinate, which can really get in the way of daily life and interrupt sleep.

Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for prostate health! Zinc can help to reduce the risk of developing an enlarged prostate and also help to reduce the size of the prostate in people with BPH due to its anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s a good one to take whether you’ve got BPH or are just looking to reduce your risk.

Zinc has many other benefits such as maintaining strong and healthy hair (by aiding keratin production, the building blocks of strong follicles) and increasing how efficiently the body processes protein.

The amount you should take is up for debate and dependant on your own lifestyle and diet. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 11mg for men but I would suggest that anything up to 30mg is more than fine. You can purchase zinc supplements from most chemists and health food shops relatively cheaply. As there are different types of zinc available to supplement, it is worth mentioning that the most efficiently absorbed is Zinc Citrate or Zinc Gluconate. However, there is minimal difference between quality sources of zinc in your supplements, though I would personally suggest avoiding Zinc Sulfate which is the cheapest source but can often cause an upset stomach as it isn’t absorbed and digested effectively.


Vitamin D improves mood and cognitive function. Vitamin D receptors are widespread in the brain, and it is thought that this nutrient may be a key player in our overall mental wellbeing.

You may have noticed that I mentioned Vitamin D ‘3’ at the beginning of this section. This is because, as before with zinc, there are different varieties we can take but primarily two options. Vitamin D2 is plant based (so suitable for vegetarians and vegans) whereas Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources (including sometimes the fat of lambs wool which blew my mind 😳😃) and has been proven to be more efficiently absorbed.

The RDA of Vitamin D is 600iu – however I would suggest that 1000-2000iu is more effective at achieving the hormonal and mental balance that this brilliant supplement provides. Again, this is relatively inexpensive and comes in many forms such as sprays, capsules and even effervescent tablets. New science suggests a large proportion of adults have deficiencies for Vitamin D3, so it’s really important to consider this for both males and females.

Many of the larger pharmaceutical firms such as Neilsen (who produce Wellman) have specific vitamin blends for both Men and Women and also differing ages as our demands for certain vitamins changes with age.

These are by no means the only ones worth your consideration so feel free to contact me at asked@uk-sas.co.uk if you have any specific questions on supplementation.

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Being active reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a disorder that afflicts many men. Though its immediate effects are obvious, the longer-term effects it has on wellbeing (both mentally and physically) are not. Blood flow is key!! Have you ever felt cold, tight and stiff before exercising and then after a few minutes everything literally warms up and you feel more supple? This is due to your blood flow increasing which is obviously a key factor in maintaining an erection. Exercise directly assists and increases blood flow which is always a good thing for the man downstairs!!

Being active increases confidence and self esteem

When you exercise, you feel good!! Not only does exercise help you to look good by gaining an improved body composition, which in turn increases your self-esteem, but it can directly fight depression. Depression is often related to low levels of certain chemicals in the brain like serotonin. Exercise, however, tends to decrease the concentration of these by-products and stimulate the release of endorphins. That feeling of achievement and wellbeing after you’ve been active is down to those endorphins. So, exercise is important for both body and mind!!

Weight training

Research has shown that lifting heavier weights is the best form of exercise to boost testosterone and especially in men after they hit 30 and their testosterone (very slowly) decreases as part of the andropause. As muscle mass increases, it will trigger the body to produce more testosterone. This is on top of the other many benefits that resistance training gives such as improved bone density, metabolic function, posture and balance.

I would recommend 2-3 short but effective full-body workouts (20-30 minutes) to begin with using compound (multi joint) exercises, such as squats, bench presses and deadlifts as these are proven to create a larger effect on testosterone levels.

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As with my supplement recommendations earlier, contact me at asked@uk-sas.co.uk if you have any specific questions on building a Workout Plan.

You can also check in with our progress with SAS Gym – use the handle @sasgymuk on Instagram or search ‘SAS Gym’ on the app store.



As part of our commitment at SAS to ensuring wellbeing for all staff covered by our services, our Lead Physiotherapist, Mike, has once again teamed up with our Lead PT, Ed, to tackle an issue that can potentially affect “men of certain age” (e.g. those of us who can remember Duran Duran first time round!)

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Watch Mike’s short intro to this blog here:

This time we are looking at the andropause or “male menopause” if you prefer, as it doesn’t appear to get the same press as other men’s health issues and, to be honest, us men have a reputation for not being very good at discussing these things – it’s certainly not something I’ve chatted about with my also 50 something friends over a post exercise pint or during a social event!

Is there such a thing as a ‘male menopause’?

The andropause is not a clearly defined process as seen in the female menopause.

The term can be misleading because it suggests the symptoms are solely the result of a sudden drop in the male hormones (mainly testosterone in middle age), similar to what occurs in the female menopause. This is not always true as the decline in hormone production for males is generally more gradual than in females.

Although testosterone levels fall as men age, the decline is steady at less than 2% a year from around the age of 30 to 40, and this is unlikely to cause significant problems just in itself.

Some men do however develop depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other physical and emotional symptoms when they reach their late 40s to early 50s.

Symptoms common in men this age group are:

  • mood swings and irritability.
  • loss of muscle mass and reduced ability to exercise.
  • fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly or “man boobs”.
  • a general lack of enthusiasm or energy.
  • difficulty sleeping or increased tiredness.
  • poor concentration and short-term memory loss.

These symptoms can interfere with everyday life and happiness, so it’s important to find the underlying cause and work out what can be done to resolve it.

Personal or lifestyle issues 

Lifestyle factors or psychological problems are often responsible for many of these symptoms.

For example, erectile dysfunctionloss of libido and mood swings may be the result of either:

There are also physical causes of erectile dysfunction, such as changes in the blood vessels, which may happen alongside any psychological cause.

Psychological ill-health is typically brought on by circumstances such as work or relationship issues, divorce, financial problems or worrying about home life issues.

A “midlife crisis” can also be responsible. This can happen when men think they have reached life’s halfway stage, becoming anxious over what they have accomplished so far and become overly reflective or fearful of one’s own mortality and can cause depression.

Other possible causes of the “male menopause” include:

  • lack of sleep
  • a poor diet
  • lack of exercise
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • smoking
  • low self-esteem

Late-onset hypogonadism 

In some cases, where lifestyle or psychological ill-health does not seem to be responsible, the symptoms of the “male menopause” may be the result of hypogonadism, where the testes produce few or no hormones.

Hypogonadism is sometimes present from birth, which can cause symptoms like delayed puberty and small testes.

Hypogonadism can also occasionally develop later in life, particularly in men who are obese or have type 2 diabetes.

This is known as late-onset hypogonadism and can cause the “male menopause” symptoms.

But this is an uncommon and specific medical condition that’s not a normal part of ageing.

A diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism can usually be made based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests used to measure your testosterone levels.

What you can do

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your GP. They’ll ask about your work and personal life to see if your symptoms may be caused by a mental health condition, such as stress or anxiety.

If stress or anxiety are affecting you, you may benefit from medication or a talking therapy, such as counselling.

Benefits of exercise

We know that as we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and our metabolic rate slows down, so we are more likely to gain weight as fat is stored rather than burnt off.

Targeted exercises such as running or resistance training will increase your strength and slow the natural rate of muscle mass loss. Furthermore, exercise will also burn off stored fat and potentially boost testosterone levels. Improved cardiovascular fitness will lower blood pressure and boost your immune response.

Exercise is also a proven stress reliever and releases endorphins which is your body’s own, natural “feel good” hormone. So exercise will not only help with low mood or depression, but an improved level of fitness will boost any low feeling of esteem and has proven benefits in helping with depression.

Do I need Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

Your GP may also order a blood test to measure your testosterone levels.

Should the results suggest you have a testosterone deficiency, you may be referred to an endocrinologist – a specialist in hormone conditions.

If the specialist confirms this diagnosis, you may be offered testosterone replacement to correct the hormone deficiency, which should relieve your symptoms.

There are potential side effects to HRT and it is not suitable for everyone, e.g. men suffering with prostate cancer, so please always seek medical guidance.

Additional Support available from SAS

I would like to direct you to our Head Personal Trainer Ed’s Blog with further information on the positive benefits of exercise and his targeted exercise regimes for those key areas affected.

There is also access to our Counselling / Talking Therapy services and you can be referred to this by contacting our excellent Wellness Nurse team – nurse@uk-sas.co.uk

Does this sound familiar…You arrive at school early, breakfast is a tea or coffee (if you’re lucky), go straight to a staff meeting before registration and that runs straight into the next appointment, perhaps a difficult discussion with parents….then it’s the next meeting and there they are….a plate of biscuits….what are you going to do?

The rest is history. Having worked as a Teacher myself for 8 years, I know how time poor we can all be working in education. Our schedules are dictated by the curriculum and our pupils. A morning break is 15-20 mins for them to grab a snack and a drink, a lunchtime even longer, whereas classroom staff and school leaders will often be on duties before, during and after school. This makes being consistent with nutrition a real challenge, however there are things to consider that can help overcome these obstacles.

Sensible Meal Preparation
The term ‘meal prep’ conjures up images of endless lines of tupperware full of chicken, broccoli and rice. This doesn’t have to be the case. When preparing a family meal, for example Spaghetti Bolognese, rather than cooking enough for that evening… cook extra! This takes little/no extra effort as you are already cooking and gives you the opportunity to store extra, home cooked food in either the fridge or freezer for another day. You also have the extra option of taking a prepared lunch that simply needs a blast in the microwave.

Snack Effectively
In the scenario I mentioned earlier, if you’re hungry and have nothing to hand, of course you’re more likely to reach for those biscuits sat in the middle of the table during a meeting.
However, take snacks you know you enjoy but are healthier than simply filling up on processed junk. Snacking isn’t just about hunger – it keeps your metabolic rate going and prevents the feeling of a ‘crash’ when energy levels slump mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Breaktime or PPA time is a good time to grab a quick snack. Here are some ideas that are quick, easy and convenient:

i) A Piece of Fruit. Banana’s, apples etc are good providers of energy as well as being excellent for your health.
ii) Malt loaf/Ryvita/Crispbreads (you can add toppings and spreads to these, both savoury and sweet). These are more naturally sourced, healthier versions of cake and crisps etc… again making a ‘better’ choice is preferable to forcing yourself to eat things you dislike. That’s often why restrictive and extreme diets are unsuccessful and damaging both physically and mentally.
iii) Greek Yoghurt/Rice Pudding. A pot of either of these are good sources of protein and carbohydrate. Add fruit or honey to Greek yoghurt. These are just a few examples of snacks you could take to work – being prepared is key! If you have food to hand then you are less likely to need to reach for junk food.

Stay Hydrated
This is something we all know we should do and is perhaps one of the easier changes we can make to our day-to-day lifestyle. Working in education can make it trickier to have constant access to water with teaching in different locations but a good quality refillable water bottle can make a big difference. You often hear that you should drink 2.5 – 3.5 litres a day. This is indeed optimal but don’t over pressure yourself to do this solely at work. If you get through half that amount you will be more than adequately hydrated and will have ticked off a large amount of what you need to fulfil for the day.

‘Cheat Days’
This is a term that has taken prominence over the last few years. It is not an approach that I think is a healthy one, either in terms of physical or mental health. It is a technique used by some physique competitors to manipulate their metabolic rate to drop bodyfat. However, to mentally attune yourself to wait until a particular day to deliberately gorge upon less healthy foods is unwise. The human body generally doesn’t like to be subjected to extremes. Pumping huge amounts of salt and fat through your digestive system in a 24 hour period will make you feel sluggish and potentially unwell. Furthermore, it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food based on a ‘siege mentality’ for the majority of the week waiting for the designated day of decadence. This leads me on to my last point below.

Moderation and Consistency
Both these factors are key to maintaining good health inside and out. To lose bodyweight and/or improve body composition you don’t need extreme measures. In the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ metaphor, physical health is very much conditioned to being the Tortoise. Your body cannot react as quickly as your emotional impulses, so a week of ‘perfect’ nutrition and exercise won’t register if the following week you fall short. Moreover, you want to have leeway to lead a normal life; if a dinner or event comes up, you should be able to enjoy this guilt free. Similarly if work prevents you completing a workout or activity then it’s not the end of the world. Set yourself sensible and sustainable targets that you can maintain without unrealistic pressure and sacrifice.
A ‘Treat Meal’ once or twice a week is good. It gives your metabolic rate a gentle nudge and also is something to look forward to. Similarly with snacks, if you’re partial to chocolate, sweet treats (or in my case tortilla chips!) then choose an evening where you have a film or TV program you’re looking forward to and accompany this with that favourite snack.

Exercise….the ‘Perceived Hour’
I wanted to finish on a short note on Exercise and Activity. Society has, over time, produced one hour as being the bench mark for Workouts, Exercise and Activity. This is simply not the case!!
Workouts as short at 10 minutes can be very effective, as it’s not the amount of time you spend training, it’s how you train within that time. You need to be consistently improving if you want to get better, whatever your fitness level. Push yourself and be honest with yourself too!! Many people train at half-effort – they leave too much ‘in the tank’ and once they’ve hit their target, be it repetitions or time, they stop regardless of whether they could have kept going. It is this ‘progressive overload’ that encourages your body to get fitter, stronger or faster. If you want some Workout Plans and ideas, search for ‘SAS Gym’ in the app store and download our App to unlock a multitude of different workouts for home and gym workout plans for all levels of experience and fitness. You can also find SAS Gym on Instagram with the handle @sasgymuk.

Teen Yoga Ambassadors

The Teen Yoga charity has existed since 2003, starting as a local activity in Somerset, bringing yoga to young people in schools across the county. Here the founder, Charlotta tells the story of how the charity came about and how it has grown.

Teen yoga - mental health

Photo of Charlotta Martinus

When Charlotta Martinus, founder of Teen Yoga, walked into a class of unruly year 10 boys back in 2003, the notion of Teen Yoga did not exist. Though she had experience of teaching in schools, the initial transition to teaching yoga was hard, despite the clear benefits it brought to the students. At that time, none of us had the vocabulary to describe the mental health challenges young people faced: anxiety, panic attacks, sleeping problems and other mental health issues were not recognised and most non-academic issues were lumped under the heading of “bad behaviour”.

Over the last twenty years Teen Yoga has evolved into an increasingly sophisticated approach to the prevention of mental health problems among adolescents. During this period teachers and staff in schools across the UK have slowly become aware of the ways in which mental health affects their work and the wellbeing of their pupils, and the related terminology, which before had belonged in CAMHS territory has become part and parcel of staff room conversations. Most teachers today will have witnessed self-harm, panic attacks, as well as the effects of isolation and sleep disorders in the classroom.

Unfortunately, the PGCE curriculum has not caught up with the changing role of the teacher as the CAMHS waiting lists simply grow longer. Between 15 and 20% of young people need referral but few are seen, so the classroom becomes a waiting room. This substantially affects what learning objectives can be achieved in each classroom. Though PHSE curricula and Mental Health leads to support mental health in schools are useful beginnings, they are swamped by the scale of the problem, and a lack of appropriate training or techniques.

The Teen Yoga approach has been built up and refined over years of conversations and listening to young people from a wide variety of backgrounds across the country. Over time it has become clear to us that the most effective support they experience is often from peers. In some instances, it is simply the empathy of a friend. In other instances, young people share what has worked for them such as prescription drugs for ADHD, anxiety, sleeplessness or even illegal drugs. In order to make the most of this dynamic we have worked with a group of young people, the College of Medicine and a team of experts in eating disorders, suicide and anxiety to develop the Teen Yoga Ambassador programme, in which young people share yoga-based techniques with each other.

The Ambassador programme builds on young people’s natural tendency to support and listen to each other. On the programme, young people experience the benefit of yoga themselves and learn specific techniques to help with specific issues, such as anxiety, sleeplessness, isolation or low mood. Then they are trained to deliver yoga-based techniques to each other informally at first and eventually formally in short classes with their peers. They are continuously supported by their mentor and are offered continued training and support throughout.

The programme is highly successful. There are substantial benefits for the young people themselves, both to improvements in their own self-care but also as an improvement in their well-being through helping others. The peer-to-peer effect is also working well and the Ambassadors are providing supportive, compassionate and effective support for others in their schools. In some cases, their teachers are even identifying changes in the atmosphere of the school, and there is evidence that parents are benefiting too.

The initiative has been strongly supported by the College of Medicine, and has also been recognised by the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme who have accredited the Teen Yoga charity as a skills provider of the Teen Yoga Ambassador programme across the country.

To find out more please head over to www.teenyogaambassadors.co.uk or contact robyn@uk-sas.co.uk to find out how SAS can help you establish a Teen Yoga Ambassador in your school.

Wellbeing and the 6-day working week

One of the wonderful things about the easing of Covid regulations has been the ability to get into schools again and work with staff and school leaders on wellbeing and supporting under pressure staff to be the best that they can be, both in a professional and personal sense.

During one of those conversations, a senior leader said to me that they are so busy in school that they have given themselves Saturday off and are resigned to the fact that if they are to be ready to face the challenges of Monday, then Sunday will have to be a working day.

Cast our minds back two hundred years to Victorian times and it was expected that an employee would work 6 days a week with Sunday off to go to church. In many ways, little has changed in education in terms of working conditions and maybe we ought to be questioning a 6-day working week. As a Head, I had no problem working a 6-day week every now and again, but it seems to have become the norm in many cases. As staff and budgets are cut back, there is more to do for everyone in schools.

However, the implications of a regular 6 day working week will be picked up in tiredness and fatigue which may see school staff leaving the profession either through choice or ill health.

The notion that we can do everything we are asked to do in school, (which has increased year on year) typified by the “Whatever it Takes” mantra which undermines health, wellbeing and any form of work-life balance needs to be challenged for the sake of the staff in our schools.

I recently had a conversation with John Brady, one of our Directors at Schools Advisory Service, and he said that we need to focus on “What Matters Most.” His views are supported in a podcast by Dr Rangan Chatterjee which you can listen to here: https://drchatterjee.com/how-to-stop-feeling-overwhelmed-with-oliver-burkeman/

Oliver Burkeman talks about our (average) four thousand weeks on the planet as a human being and the fact that, as finite beings, we have a limited amount of time on the planet and yet an infinite list of things that we’d like to do to change the world that we live in; far too many to get through.

He then goes on to compare this to the working week with a finite number of hours we can work but an infinite list of work to be done.

His advice is that we need to focus on “What Matters Most” and even then, there will be things we want to do but simply have to choose not to do as there just isn’t time.

Essentially, what Oliver is saying is that we have to make the tough calls ourselves as time is limited. We can tell ourselves that time management strategies are “a back door” to getting more done but really, we are kidding ourselves.

In a school context, I’ve been talking to staff in schools more recently about being judicious with their time and making judgement calls on enough being enough. No-one will tell us where to draw the line in terms of work as that line is a personal decision, however I think it is reasonable to expect the lion share of your weekend to be yours; to rest, recover and take care of your wellbeing in the way you see fit, so that one week’s work doesn’t roll into the next.

The hours worked each week vs the time for wellbeing is currently, for most in school, unsustainable in the long term. It’s one of the reasons why staff in school struggle to half term and then fall ill as their health and wellbeing has largely been neglected for 6/7 weeks. SAS absence data has shown this trend for years in schools.

All of us need time away from work and the notion of a weekend is what the weekend was designed to do. Whilst researching this blog I came across an article on the origins of the 48-hour weekend break.

It goes on to say that “employers found that the full Saturday and Sunday break reduced absenteeism and improved efficiency.”

So back in the 1930’s when the weekend was first introduced, employers were aware that there were real wellbeing benefits for employees, “to enhance their education and leisure pursuits.”

There are clear wellbeing benefits from getting a break at the weekend and it is in place for the very reasons that we need it today.

The work in school is infinite and our time finite so do what matters most and yes make some tough decisions not to do some things that you’d like to do. Even when working all weekend there’ll still be things to do.

Prioritising your wellbeing at the weekend will help to make you happier and more efficient when in school.


To discuss how SAS can support the wellbeing of you and your whole school community, get in touch on

askandy@uk-sas.co.uk or visit the Ask Andy section of our website.

Ask Andy - school leadership & pastoral support

Living present and in the moment = Happiness

Happiness may be thought of as, ‘if only I had this, or that, I’d be happy’. None of us are immune to this line of thought and we all know that the achievement of ‘whatever it is’ will rarely lead to true happiness. It is much more elusive than that and so much more to do with what is going on inside than what is going on outside. Along the way, I have rubbed shoulders with some very wealthy people. Some have seemed to be brimming with happiness and others seem to be anything but happy – angry and stressful, if anything, so I don’t think that answer is money.

Doing anything that we enjoy doing can lead us to pleasure / happiness.

For example, if you really enjoy tasty food then going out for a meal with a close friend to a favourite restaurant may do it for you. The anticipation of doing it and looking forward to it may also create happiness, so long as it’s not too long to wait. (This is making me feel hungry!)

When we are fully engaged in an activity and giving it our 100% attention, then it is likely that we are in what might be described as a flow state. I used to do quite a lot of swimming and there is something about swimming that means that after you have kept going, when you have broken through the pain threshold, that eventually you enter a state where you feel you can just keep on swimming. When we achieve this, we sometimes feel as if life has slowed down and we are on automatic pilot. Runners will often talk about ‘runner’s high’ to describe the serotonin release feeling associated with being in this state. Other activities requiring either intense physical activity or an intense concentration will result in similar flow or zone states. When we are in the flow we typically may experience:

  • A sense of blissful awareness
  • A complete and exclusive focus
  • A forgetting or expelling of unwanted feelings and thoughts
  • A sense of inner satisfaction.


Happiness is not a destination; it is here during the journey and in the present moment


Living in the present actually helps us from living so many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months even years ahead, which we so often do and often in worry.

It’s the little things……

I was recently talking to Andy Mellor, SAS Director of Wellbeing, and he was telling me about a time he had recently travelled by train and, as the train pulled into the station, a leaf from a tree was right next to the window and on that leaf was a ladybird. Andy admitted he would not have ordinarily noticed it, but when we are present, we see the more beauty around us.

He was trying to keep himself more present and, in the moment, he did.

By using our senses, we can be present and not try to change anything but just notice and accept what is.

Next time you are walking from your car or public transport stop to your school building, just be aware of what you can see, what you can hear, what you can feel, what you can smell. Try it!

Mindfulness and being present in the moment can have the following long-term benefits:

  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Greater resilience
  • Memory enhancement
  • Improved concentration and mood
  • Clarity and focus
  • Improved health and wellbeing


Maybe you would like to try some movement to help practice being present? Our SAS Personal Trainer, Ed, and I have put together the following video demonstrating this.

Or listen to one of my podcasts.


A question to leave you with…

The last time you were in the shower, in your mind were you in the shower or were you in your classroom, office etc?


If you would like more information on the attainment of happiness, please feel free to contact me.


It’s now over 2 years since we entered our first pandemic lockdown and whilst Covid appears less virulent, we are still seeing a distressingly high number of hospitalisations, and sadly deaths.

We are also starting to see the impact of the pandemic with a number of reports indicating a rise in the prevalence of mental ill health amongst young people.

According to NHS figures, 1 in 6 children aged between 5 and 16 in 2020 had a probable mental health disorder, up from 1 in 9 in 2017. There is no reason to suggest that those figures haven’t worsened since.

A recent report from Steer Education suggests that the pandemic has impacted girls more adversely than boys, with more than 80% of girls going to great lengths to hide signs of mental distress from school staff up from 60% pre-pandemic.

However, the pandemic has also had an impact on our views about mental health and wellbeing with many now prioritising their wellbeing over careers and work more generally. We are more often reminded that we work to live, not the other way around. We need to keep hold of these views, as so much of our pre pandemic lives was gobbled up by work often to the detriment of our own mental health and wellbeing.

I am increasingly having conversations with schools and school leaders about making substantial cultural change to the way that schools work, to ensure all staff benefit from improved mental health and wellbeing. Those schools who “get it” can see that not only does such an approach benefit mental health but that more mentally healthy staff are more effective, and that not only means more fulfilled and flourishing, but also improved standards.

I’m working closely with schools across the country to embed a mentally healthy school culture, supported by the SAS wellbeing support team and services, to show that you don’t need to choose between Ofsted and wellbeing. You can do both and one supports the other.

In my experience if you get the wellbeing right for staff and pupils, everyone performs better and standards rise. It really is a win win.

Getting to this point needs the whole school community to act in the same direction, which means beginning with a shared understanding of wellbeing. If we don’t even agree on what wellbeing is, how can we work to improve it?

Governors need to play a key role in building a whole school wellbeing approach. They need to give school leaders the permission to develop a vision based on wellbeing supporting staff and learners and consequently improving outcomes. Such an approach will have far more impact than drilling, boosting and doing more. Governors need to be given an understanding that wellbeing is about professional autonomy, engagement and purpose for staff as much as it is about doing nice things. SAS clients can access the Wellbeing Governor E-module from Carnegie School for Excellence in Mental Health, which is the perfect way to support and engage governors with whole school wellbeing.

Key questions for governors and senior leaders are:

How do we get our staff (all of our staff not just teachers) to a place where they can be the very best version of themselves?

Is that what we have now? If not, why not and how can we improve it?

What is our vision for a post pandemic school, what have we learned and how is this different from January 2020?

My wish for senior leaders is twofold.

  • That they really take a close look at their own mental health and wellbeing as not only does it have an effect on them, it affects the rest of the school. The head sets the tone for schools and has a critical role modelling impact on staff. The chances are that if you prioritise wellbeing then the staff will.

Leaders of SAS schools can utilise our School Leaders Thriving Programme which is designed to enable leaders to reflect on their own wellbeing and how this impacts their leadership.

  • Secondly, is wellbeing sufficiently embedded that all who work and learn in the school can be the best version of themselves? How do you as a leader make that happen, because if you do, standards rise. That’s just the conversation I’m having with many school leaders who are SAS or NAHT Wellness and Protect schools.

In terms of staff in school, and I’m really including everyone who is not a senior leader, how do you prioritise your wellbeing so that you are the best version of yourself at school and in your personal life? Whilst the head has a duty of care, you also have an individual responsibility to take decisions about your own wellbeing that supports you.

Wellbeing isn’t just for those who work with the children every day either. I’ve got tried and tested ideas about how to improve the wellbeing of all staff.

We have to move forward in a different way and see wellbeing as essential to being able to do our jobs well. I look forward to having that conversation with you to help you and your school become the best version of yourself!


Ask Andy - school leadership & pastoral support

For more information or to access support, you can contact Andy at askandy@uk-sas.co.uk. Alternatively, contact SAS at 01773 814 400.

Welcome to the Spring Blog from Mike, Lead Physiotherapist for Schools Advisory Service.

For me, this is my favourite time of year, full of hope for the coming warmer months, the daylight hours are coming back and the birds are indeed singing their hearts out at 4am.

I personally always like to be looking forwards (backwards is history and we always need to learn from that) and here at SAS we are planning ahead with a forthcoming series of informative updates about the service and these will be complimented by further support found in the Resources section here.

However, my springtime message to everyone is simple, with the arrival of these springtime morning and evening daylight hours, it is time to dust off those walking boots and Go For a Walk!

Quite simply, walking is one of the simplest and safest forms of exercise and there are HUGE research proven benefits to it.

A brisk walk for only 20-30 minutes a day can make a massive difference to your overall physical health and mental wellbeing. Research shows many positive benefits to anyone who walks regularly; it does not have to be far…and no dog is necessarily required!

Walking has been shown to be the closest thing to “a wonder drug” and it’s FREE! It is also low impact on your joints and still delivers as much cardiovascular benefit as jogging.

The benefits can include:

  • Helping maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat (it even suppresses fat genes)
  • Improves your cardiovascular fitness
  • Strengthens your bones and muscles (the body lays down bone in response to “stress” on them…walking is a gentle form of stress and more calcium is deposited in the bones)
  • Improves muscle endurance
  • Use the time to clear your head from the noise of day-to-day life
  • It has been shown to boost your immune system (no bad thing in a global pandemic)
  • Reduces blood pressure / cholesterol and helps as part of Type 2 Diabetes management
  • Helps lower your bodies inflammatory levels
  • Reduces cravings for those “sweeter” things in your diet
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer
  • Aids digestion and promotes normal intestinal movement (unlike sitting)
  • Eases joint pain, especially when backed up by a tailored home exercise regime

Further forthcoming SAS Wellbeing advice will feature Ed, our personal trainer, and I collaborating on a package of information on the Male Menopause or “Manopause” and the effects of aging on men!

The work we did on Wake Up / Work Out has been very well received and again shows how SAS will look to offer joined up care across it’s many Wellbeing departments.

Looking back for a moment to previous posting on the Resources page, Long Covid is still very much a legacy issue of the pandemic and SAS are seeing a continually increasing demand for our in-house Long Covid service.

This can be accessed via our Nursing Team and will include advice from myself, backed up with a bespoke programme and access to our SAS Gym service with Ed, to further facilitate recovery from this very debilitating condition. School staff that have accessed this so far have found it extremely beneficial and the positive outlook it has provided is part of the key to recovery.

Much more to follow in these exciting times… but for now, find the time to do that 20-30 minute daily walk and reap the health benefits for free – it’s totally carbon neutral!

Best Wishes


Lead Physio, SAS

For the month of April we are celebrating SAS Nurse Support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Nurse Support to insured staff to include:

Nurse Support

SAS directly employ NMC registered nurses who are on hand to speak to whenever you have a health concern. Our nursing team can signpost to relevant wellbeing services, assist staff with queries relating to their own wellbeing and empower staff to ask the right questions regarding their condition. SAS welcome calls to offer extra care when needed, with no query too big or small, offering peace of mind with effective pastoral care.

Nurse Drop-In Clinic

SAS NMC Registered Nurses conduct drop-in clinics with schools on average over twice a day, every day of the year. Staff who choose to attend can be assured that all discussions are completely confidential. The nurses discuss topics such as current health status, family history, current medication, Mental Wellbeing, Risk Factors, Medical History and Lifestyle. To learn more about the nurse drop-in clinics, please click here.

Ask Mandy

Mandy is a registered nurse, with a special interest in palliative care. She has had experience working for the NHS for over 20 years. For over 10 years, Mandy has been a vital line of support to schools, working with SAS and supporting staff wellbeing queries.

Mandy is NMC registered with the following additional qualifications:

  • Community Practitioner – Nurse Prescriber
  • Specialist Practitioner – District Nursing
  • Registered Nurse

+ more!

Nurse Support is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by emailing nurse@uk-sas.co.uk. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding Nurse Support please contact the Nursing team for more information at nurse@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814403.

For the month of March we are celebrating SAS Whole School & Leadership Support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Whole School & Leadership Support to insured staff:

Ask Andy

Andy has over 30 years within education, with 17 of those years as Headteacher and a year from 2018 as NAHT president.  Andy is on hand to support school leaders build a whole school wellbeing culture from scratch, building a wellbeing curriculum that raises standards and builds good mental health and wellbeing and supporting governors in giving a strategic lead to wellbeing. School leaders at schools insured with SAS can contact Andy for personalised queries.

Wellbeing Governance Lead E-module

The development of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Governance Lead will demonstrate your governing boards commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of both staff and pupils. Completion of our online course will award a governor with the ‘Carnegie Mental Health & Wellbeing Governance Lead’ status.

Contact your SAS account manager to access this programme.

School Leaders Thriving Programme

Based on 35 years of academic research the SLT Programme is designed to support leaders within education, offering the crucial supervision support that is vitally needed.

Mental Health Award

The Carnegie Mental Health Award takes a community approach to mental health providing a framework to evidence policies and initiatives that work towards improving mental health and wellbeing for both staff and pupils within the wider school community.. 92% of schools agreed that the award created a more positive school culture for pupils.

Living Well

The online Living Well Assessment and Development Programme helps staff function and perform at their best. It raises self-awareness, gives them the skillset to make changes, and become a more empowered version of themselves. The Living Well Assessment is a part of the complimentary wellbeing services available with SAS staff absence insurance policies.

+ more!

Wholeschool and Leadership Support is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by emailing AskAndy@uk-sas.co.uk. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding Whole School and Leadership Support please contact Ask Andy for more information at AskAndy@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814400.

For the month of February we are celebrating SAS Counselling & Mindfulness Support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance!

As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Counselling & Mindfulness Support to insured staff:

Relaxation Room – Hosted by SAS wellbeing consultant Ask June, the Relaxation Room is a live webinar that covers topics related to mindfulness. The Relaxation Room is complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance policies.

Click here to listen to the Relaxation Room Podcast

Be Mindful – The only NHS approved mindfulness programme for schools. Over a four-week programme, it will help instil coping strategies for stress and anxiety for the user.

Practical approach to mindfulness with engaging videos and interactive sessions to teach a more effective way of handling stress and challenges. Sessions are online and on-demand with an easy-to-use pathway, simple instructions to follow and complete at your own pace. Accessible on any device with the ability to track your progress along the pathway with self-assessment tools that chart reductions in stress, depression, and anxiety.

Be Mindful is available to all staff at schools insured by SAS. Click here to learn more and register. 

Ask June – Ask June is a mindfulness support programme included within SAS staff wellbeing service. June is here to help as your mindfulness & wellbeing consultant and delivers guided weekly podcasts focused on mindful meditation, relaxation, and hypnosis. Staff at schools insured by SAS can contact June for personalised one-to-one support.

Counselling and Mindfulness Support is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by emailing nurse@uk-sas.co.uk. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding Counselling and Mindfulness Support please contact Ask June for more information at askjune@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814400.

SAS personal trainers Ed & Valusska alongside SAS physiotherapist Mike have put together the following resource to support your January fitness plans.


For the videos, please see our social media

For the month of January we are celebrating SAS Weight Management Support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Weight Management Support to insured staff.

We offer a variety of weight management services available to all staff insured by SAS policies.  This includes personal trainer fitness and nutrition support and slimming world.

As part of our Weight Management services we have Ask Ed. Ask Ed is a fitness and nutrition support programme included within SAS staff wellbeing service and works in conjunction with the SAS Gym App. SAS GYM is an app that provides users with the ability to access a range of exercise programmes while monitoring progress towards fitness goals. SAS Personal Trainers Ed and Valusska host twice weekly live sessions and can also offer personalised support for insured staff.

“The sessions have been fantastic. Valusska has listened to what I’ve said and totally worked at the level I need to help me”. – Feedback regarding SAS Weight Management services

Also part of our Weight Management we have Slimming World. SAS are able to offer weight loss support in the form of Slimming World support to staff with a BMI over 30. As a matter of fact, 61.1% of people who complete our 12-week Slimming World referral achieve a 5% weight loss.

SAS Weight Management Support is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by emailing sales@schooladvice.co.uk. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding SAS Weight Management Support please contact our personal trainers for more information at asked@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814400.

We love getting feedback from our wellbeing support clients. Recently, one of our SAS Gym clients gave us some amazing feedback about how the gym programme has motivated her to maintain her new healthy lifestyle and how her progress has also inspired her colleagues to get fit. Not only that, but our client used her reward points to buy gifts for some of her school community. What an amazing story!

“My name is L, a 47 year old, pre-covid unfit single mother, and new fitness freak! During lockdown, like many other people, I began to laze around and watch a lot of box sets. I started doing the couch to 5k! (which took me longer than it should) and at the end I was managing to run for 25 ish minutes. I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds without getting out of puff at the start! I managed to lose 3 stones in the process and felt much better in myself and much healthier.

I found the SAS app when sent some emails from work about well-being and I clicked on a link. I was really impressed with the way that the more I exercised the more points I got and then I would be rewarded for staying healthy. I found that the goals it sets and the levels (I’m now at platinum) really motivated me to run every day. Last month I ran 5k every day and at the weekends 10k. I recently starting to compete in races and I’ve found that I’m actually quite good at it (who knew?)

I have told all of my colleagues about the app and at least half of the school staff are now exercising regularly and we are much fitter as a team because of it.

The vouchers that I have earned through my exercising have so far been spent on Christmas presents for my class (Amazon) and next vouchers for my TA’s for Christmas.  As a single mum, I struggle for money so this app has not only made me fitter, it has helped me to prepare for the festivities. If ever I don’t feel like going for a run, I think about the app and I’m putting my trainers on!

Thank you for a fantastic idea.”

SAS Gym is complimentary for all staff at schools insured by SAS staff absence insurance. To learn more about SAS Gym and support with our personal trainers through our Ask Ed service click here or alternatively email our personal trainers on asked@uk-sas.co.uk.

“Tis the Season to be Jolly “so the saying goes, but for many this also brings “Seasonal Creakings” of any troublesome Knee Joints.

Hopefully this will help with understanding the question, “Why does my Knee hurt more in Winter?” alongside advice on good management will make Christmas more Sparkle and less Crackle!

One commonly seen condition is Osteoarthritis of the Knee. This is a condition that causes roughening and thinning of the articular cartilage that lines the bones and acts as a protective layer over the bone ends. This creates friction within the joint, where none should exist and that typical “creaking” noise often noted when the Knee undergoes flare up.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritic (OA) Knee can include;
• Pain (often over the inner Knee)
• Stiffness of the Knee (especially first thing or after periods of rest)
• A grating or grinding sensation (crepitis) when the Knee is moving
• Swelling (can be hard or soft)
• Thigh Muscle (Quadriceps muscle) weakness or wasting
• Knee giving way or “letting you down” feeling
• Pain on Kneeling
• Difficulty with functional activities eg ascending or often worse, descending stairs

Science has not fully explained why cold weather can exacerbate arthritis joint pain and stiffness but there are some possible explanations.

There is a saying in the Physiotherapy world, that “Joints Never Forgive, And Never Forget!”. Which simply means old injuries will come back to “haunt you” as Osteo-arthritis many years later.

A fall in barometric pressure which occurs as a cold front approaches, causes the Knee joint to expand which may result in pain, essentially the Joint acts like a Barometer! Which is why Grandma knew it was going to rain!

Lower temperatures also thickens the Synovial fluid within the joint (this is fluid that lubricates and nourishes the joint). This will make the Joint stiffer and more sensitive to pain.

Studies have also shown that Cold weather lowers the release of the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory hormone (Cortisol) and makes joints more prone to tissue damage and nerve irritation from excessive inflammation.

The Flu season can also cause issues, as viral infections can create an over active immune response in some types of Arthritis (ie Rheumatoid Arthritis) and this ends up attacking your body, instead of the virus.. so, make sure you have your Flu / Covid vaccine!!

SAS Tips for Coping with Arthritis in Cold Weather;
1. Keep Active; following a simple but daily exercise regime can help fight these “seasonal creaking” as exercise helps ease pain, increase joint flexibility and strengthens the muscles that protect the vulnerable joints.
2. Take a daily walk of 20-40 mins. Walking is a Low impact activity and proven to promote many health benefits.
3. Keep the area warm, dress in layers which helps trap heat better
4. Have your Flu jab.
5. Avoid Vitamin D deficiency as this increases sensitivity to Pain. There is less natural sun light in winter which lowers Vitamin D production. Eat Vitamin D rich foods such as oily fish, and drink fortified juices / milk and breakfast cereals.
6. Refer to the SAS website for further Advice on Knee exercises to help keep the muscles strong to protect affected Joints.
7. Seek further Help via our Nursing Team working closely with our Lead Physiotherapist and In House Personal trainer team

Support from Ask Mike is available for staff insured complementary on SAS staff absence insurance policies. Contact the wellbeing team to learn more or access a physiotherapy referral on 01773 814 403 or email nurse@uk-sas.co.uk

Here at SAS, very year we hold our annual Christmas card competition for pupils of all ages to submit their creations to us. This year we were pleased to resume the tradition of having some in the post and laying them out for our staff to enjoy and also had a lot of email submissions. We received hundreds of submissions. Its always so hard to narrow it down to our favourite 15 and then vote for our the winner!

We are pleased to announce this years winner ……

Harvey from Heatherlands Primary School in Dorset! Harvey put together this amazing creation using scraps of paper, felt, buttons and other materials. The collage is so bright and colourful and you can’t help but smile as you see it. We love it! Thank you so much to Harvey, Heatherlands Primary and all of schools and pupils that participated. We really love this competition and its so nice to see so many amazing cards that made us smile and laugh.

Last year, the food banks in the Trussel Trust’s UK network distributed 2.5 million emergency food parcels, with 980,000 were given to children.  SAS are inspired by the work of Marcus Rashford MBE and the tireless work that so many schools and community groups have done since the start of the pandemic to prevent children going hungry.  Food banks not only provide essential items such as food and personal hygiene products to those in need, but they also signpost to organisations that provide information on financial advice, welfare support, community groups and other support services.

The pandemic has affected nearly everyone in different ways, but one worry that families should never have is whether they can afford to feed their children. SAS are committed to supporting local foodbanks around the country. We have started our own foodbank in our head office and also in the month of December will be taking nominations from schools do donate £100 to every week.

Please tweet us @SchoolsAdvisory or contact your account manager to nominate a food bank.

For the month of December we are celebrating SAS Ask June Mindfulness Support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Mindfulness support to insured staff.

Ask June is a mindfulness support programme included within SAS staff wellbeing service. June is here to help as your mindfulness & wellbeing consultant and delivers guided weekly podcasts focused on mindful meditation, relaxation, and hypnosis.

June is an accomplished therapist with over 10 years’ experience and specialises in managing anxiety and stress. She has worked for over 5 years within the education sector, working with clients one-to-one or as part of a group session. Junes qualifications include:

  • Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner
  • Coach ABNLP
  • Psychotherapist MNCP
  • Clinical Hypnotherapist DipHypGHR

‘A fantastic experience with AskJune! Wow. What a difference – anxiety levels decreased rapidly and no panic attack! I highly recommend giving this a go.’ – Feedback from school staff regarding Ask June Mindfulness sessions

SAS Ask June Mindfulness Support is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by emailing askjune@uk-sas.co.uk. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding SAS Whole School Wellbeing, please contact SAS for more information at sales@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814400.

SAS personal trainers have put together some information about seasonal affective disorder and how to combat winter depression.

In a previous Blog I referred to the creation of a New timeline of BC, (Before COVID), namely an event or injury that happened “Before COVID”. However nationally we now have the legacy condition of Long COVID which is an ever increasing and debilitating problem and one we at SAS are seeing in increasing numbers through our Wellness Service. This week alone I have had 3 referrals for Long COVID support, and we have helped at least 30 members of Teaching staff during the recent pandemic.

By definition Long COVID, is the continuation of symptoms beyond 12 weeks and can include any number of commonly seen symptoms including; Brain Fog, Chest pain, Fatigue, Joint and Muscle pain, Loss of taste / smell, erratic Heart rate, BP changes, Joint swelling , general lethargy, pain and post viral anxiety / depression.

Long COVID is already affecting many thousands in the UK and what is very evident from the research is that;

  • 70-80 % of the people experiencing SEVERE acute reactions to Covid-19 are MEN.
  • Whereas 70-80% of the people of Long COVID sufferers are Women
  • The biggest group of Long COVID sufferers are Aged 40-60, are predominantly White, Females and with x2 pre-existing co-morbidities / health conditions ie Diabetes or Asthma

Causes of Long COVID

  • Exact cause as yet unclear as research on going, with lots of hypothesis as it is a New Disease, with several theories developing.
  • There appears to be a strong link between Systemic inflammation and a poor recovery from illness across the disease spectrum
  • Strong suspicion that the body’s own autoantibodies could play a part with the immune system attacking the body itself, as in the case of Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It fits as autoimmunity where the body has that immune response to its own healthy cells and organs is more common in middle aged women.
  • Other reasons could be lingering viral reservoirs or lingering fragments of the virus. This can be detected months post infection in the intestines of the survivor.
  • These viral reservoirs may be a factor in other diseases ie ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis / Chronic fatigue syndrome / Fibromyalgia, which in many ways mirror Long COVID symptoms.

There has been the creation of a network of Long COVID centres, but these are not always easily accessible to all and here at SAS we have developed our own program to help tackle this debilitating condition. Anyone asking to access help via the SAS App or by contacting the Wellness team will be directed to our Lead Physiotherapist for an initial consultation and provision of a bespoke online exercise regime, to cover breathing control, posture and Upper and Lower limb exercises.

On reviewing then we are able to offer access to our In house personal trainers (Ed and Valusska) for ongoing 1-2 1 support, working to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation process. Inadvertently we have created our own “Long COVID service” but this time with national coverage!

Results have been very encouraging and very pleasing given the complexity of the condition and in many ways the programme has been evolved as we entered the unknown, but recent research has backed up our Exercise based approach, combined with Relaxation and Breathing control.

Most importantly we can provide the hope and reassurance that despite the very debilitating nature of this condition, there is a positive benefit to a careful tailored program and that SAS will be there to support clients though that process.


SAS Physiotherapist Mike is available for support through SAS Wellbeing. Staff insured on SAS policies can contact 01773 814 403 to learn more or to access a referral.

For the month of November we are celebrating SAS Ask Mike Physiotherapy Support! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Physiotherapy support to insured staff.

Ask Mike is part of the Whole School Wellbeing Support complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance. SAS offer this private physiotherapy service to ensure that while your staff are waiting for a referral they can address and access therapy to alleviate discomfort. The Ask Mike service is centred around offering tailored advice and a bespoke exercise program across a whole range of Musculo-skeletal conditions.

Mike Hodgson has been offering High Quality Physiotherapy to Patients in the Wakefield area since 1997. Mike qualified in 1991 at Bradford Hospitals School of Physiotherapy with 2 Distinctions as a Graduate Diploma in Physiotherapy (Grad Dip Phys)

Mike has been working in private practice for 25 years in the Wakefield area, as well as working for 5 years at Pinderfields and part time at Dewsbury Hospital until 2007. He has been working with SAS for approximately 18 months helping to develop their access to Physiotherapy services and working closely on the development of the SAS Web site Resources information.

Did you know that with SAS Physiotherapy support:
• Cause of pain does not need to be work related
• All clients will have a teleconsultation with an experienced physiotherapist
• Clients will be referred to a local clinic should their condition require additional intervention

97.7% of school staff referred to SAS Physiotherapy were either returned to or were not absent from work through Physiotherapy intervention.

SAS Ask Mike Physiotherapy Support is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by emailing sales@uk-sas.co.uk. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding Ask Mike Physiotherapy Support please contact Ask Mike for more information at nurse@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814400.

Summer has come and gone. We are nearly at the Autumn half term holidays! We have been up to a lot here at SAS and we are really excited to share news about new products, services and stories since the last term. Check out our latest SAS newsletter for autumn 2021 below to learn more.

Click here to see the SAS Autumn Term Newsletter

For the month of October we are celebrating SAS Ask Rebecca Counselling Support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Counselling support to insured schools.

Ask Rebecca is part of the Whole School Wellbeing Support complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance. Rebecca is here to support individual school staff with queries about their health and signposting to services available to them. Rebecca can also offer guidance to school leaders with ways to identify staff who may be in need of support, how to approach them, and to better understand ways of promoting an improved wellbeing culture within the workplace.

Rebecca holds a degree in Counselling and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about raising the profile of emotional wellbeing issues and making mental health information and support more accessible to everyone. Rebecca specialises in:


  • Stress and Anxiety Management
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Depression and Mood Disorders

“Staff member stated that their counsellor is amazing and has made them feel so much better. They are feeling more and more confident each session”

Feedback from school regarding Counselling Service

SAS carry out on average over 240 sessions of counselling per week. Our research informs us that stress accounts for approximately 31% of absence within schools and academies. In an effort to improve this statistic, SAS offer solution focused therapy sessions to named staff.

If you have any questions regarding Ask Rebecca Counselling Support, please contact Ask Rebecca for more information at nurse@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814403.

The team at SAS extend their congratulations to ICRS who have been awarded with the Service Provider of the Year by the MGAA Managing General Agents Association.

“ICSR was recognised for its record of providing MGA clients with governance, risk and compliance advice and support that has enabled those MGAs to meet their own business plans, timelines and objectives, backed up by strong and very positive feedback from a wide range of MGA clients, many of whom are also MGAA members.”

Ken Underhill was on hand to accept the award and acknowledged the role played by the whole team who have supported work with MGA clients.

Congrats to Ken and the rest of the team at ICSR!

Today is Suicide Prevention Day. SAS Mindfulness and Wellbeing Consultant June has shared the below information in an effort to raise awareness on suicide prevention and to share contact information of organisations which can support people in crisis looking for immediate support.

Suicide is clearly a significant social issue in the United Kingdom. There were 6,524 people who took their own lives in 2019 in the United Kingdom.

Startling statistics show that suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in this country. Men are more three times more likely to die by suicide. Women more often than not share there suicidal thoughts with others.

Men aged 45-49 and women aged 50-54 have the highest suicidal rates in England and Wales.

To feel suicidal can be confusing and frightening. They can be of thoughts about no longer wanting to be here and scarily making plans about when and how you do this.

People with suicidal thoughts may feel less like they want to die but that they want the pain to stop.

The common feeling are feelings of hopelessness, desperation, anxiousness, consumed with negative thoughts as well as feelings of alienation from others.

How can you help if someone if you think they may have suicidal thoughts?

Just asking someone the question, ‘Do they feel suicidal’ can really help and it gives them the green light to talk without feeling like a burden. If someone feels suicidal it can be a great relief to open up and tell someone how they are really feeling.

Let them talk…. If someone does tell you they are having such thoughts, encourage them to talk. Listening attentively and responding with open questions is a good way of letting them know they are supported. Offer encouragement. Remember you don’t have to solve their problems.

You may offer practical help like making that call to their GP or even just watching television together or play a game.

There is a limit to the support you can provide. It is important to look after your own mental health so it’s ok to step back if you need to. Help them put a support network of friends and relatives together.

By doing these things you could save someone’s life.


National Suicide Helpline UK

National Suicide Helpline UK offers a supportive listening service to anyone throughout the UK with thoughts of suicide or thoughts of self-harm. They are open 24/7.

Tel: 0800 689 5652

Samaritans UK & Ireland

Samaritans UK & Ireland offers 24-hour emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the UK & Ireland. They have 201 branches open 365 days a year, where people can also talk in person.
Tel: 116 123

Connect Counselling

Connect offers a free telephone counselling and support service for any adult who has experienced abuse, trauma or neglect in childhood. Their service is available from 6-10 pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

Tel: 1800 477 477 (Ireland)

Tel: 00800 477 477 77 ( UK and Northern Ireland)

Tel: 00353 (0) 1 865 7495 ( Outside ROI and UK)


Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope

Text SHOUT to 85258


Campaign Against Living Miserably Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues which include depression and suicide.
Tel: 0800 585858

HopeLine UK

For practical advice on suicide prevention
Tel: 0800 068 4141

Lifeline (N.Ireland)

For anyone in N.Ireland who is in distress or despair. Immediate help on phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Face to face counselling can be arranged, also befriending, mentoring. Issues dealt with include suicide prevention, self-harm, abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety.
Tel: 0808 808 8000

Breathing Space

Breathing Space provides emotional support and assistance to people in Scotland who are depressed, in crisis or at risk of suicide. They are operating from 6 pm to 2 am.
Tel: 0800 83 85 87

Premier Lifeline

Helpline providing a listening service, information, emotional and spiritual support from a Christian perspective Helpline providing a listening service, information, emotional and spiritual support from a Christian perspective
Tel: 0300 111 0101

SAS pupil Yoga Providers the Teen Yoga Foundation have kindly shared a resource about grounding through Yoga. You can read more about this month’s theme by clicking here.


One we get ourselves grounded, we feel stronger in mind, body and spirit. Click on this link.
The Tree: Grounding Exercise
This exercise is a mindfulness exercise to help your yogis identify with their roots, who makes them feel grounded and the safe people in their lives. This is a great exercise to do with your yogis. They will discover the people who they should keep close to them as they add enormous value to their mental well-being, nurturing and development.
To learn more about this exercise, click on this link.

Grounding and Anchoring: Yamas and Niyamas
September is the beginning of a new season and for some, the start of the new school year. As part of the yoga practice, you could invite your yogis to start to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the first two limbs of yoga: the Yamas (or restraints) and Niyamas (or observances).
Each of the Yamas and Niyamas contain five ‘jewels’ which form the basis of yogic thought. Reflecting upon the ‘jewels’ and integrating them into our daily lives can support us in finding more space, lightness and balance, and a deeper connection to our resting place.
This month as part of our theme on grounding and anchoring, you might like to support your yogis in deepening their understanding of ‘ahimsa’ or non-harming, the first of the Yamas.
To see how you can bring this into your classes, have a look at this link. 
Last summer, Billie Eilish teamed up with Spotify to create a platform for fans to write a letter to their future selves. The initiative married up with her single, ‘My Future.’ In the song she says, ‘I’m in love with my future, I can’t wait to meet her.’ And she talks about how she wants young people to write to themselves to be their most authentic self and find peace.
You could use this exercise in your class. Have your yogis listen to the song by Billie Eilish and then write a letter to themselves. The letter will include things like their goals, dreams, spiritual aspiration and more. In writing these letters, your yogis will start to feel a sense of grounding as they reflect and think about their hopes for the future.
To learn more about this exercise, click here.

For the month of September, we are celebrating SAS Ask Ed Fitness & Nutrition Support, complimentary for staff insured with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer fitness & nutrition support to insured schools.

Ask Ed is a fitness and nutrition support programme included within SAS staff wellbeing service and works in conjunction with the SAS Gym App. Ed, along with Valusska are here to help as your personal trainers. We offer bespoke and personal help and advice to work out the optimal way to plan a realistic exercise plan. Our Ask Ed service enables our clients to contact us in confidence and speak directly to us.

Be sure to check out the SAS website for plenty of fitness and nutrition content, such as:
• Monthly fitness challenges
• SAS Gym live sessions
• Fitness & Nutrition guidance
• Post-partum support
• SAS Gym offers
• Weight management support
• + much more

SAS Gym is also part of Ask Ed’s Fitness and Nutrition Support. Overseen by Ask Ed & Valusska, SAS GYM provides users with the ability to access a range of exercise programmes, developed by our in-house personal trainers and monitoring progress towards fitness goals. SAS GYM helps users improve their overall health and bioage.

Ask Ed nutrition & fitness support is complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance and can be accessed by getting in touch with one of our members of staff on 01773 814400 or via nurse@uk-sas.co.uk.

Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding Ask Ed support, please get in touch at asked@uk-sas.co.uk.

Click here to visit the Ask Ed hub

We are celebrating our Assistant Lead Nurse Louise!

September 2 marks 30 years since Louise started her nurse training.

Louise has been a part of the fantastic SAS wellbeing team for the last 8 years and works to not only support school staff around the country, but also to proactively identify new support services that will help to make a difference to whole school wellbeing.

Anyone who has spoken to Louise over her many years with SAS will tell you she is a compassionate, knowledgeable, and bubbly source of support. Louise is always willing to lend an ear and offer advice and support for those in need.

Here is Louise in her student uniform during her first few weeks of training and at her graduation with her beloved Nan.

Congratulations Louise! What an amazing achievement!

SAS are delighted to announce that one of our in-house personal trainers Valusska has just consecutively received her 2nd and 3rd Dan Black Belt in Combat Karate! This is a fantastic achievement and highlights just how skilled our PT’s are. This award no doubt took a great deal of commitment and discipline to achieve, and we congratulate Valusska wholeheartedly. It’s fantastic that someone who is often a teacher for others can set such a high standard and be the person they inspire others to be.

Acquiring the 3rd Dan Black Belt means that Valusska is now fully registered with the FIST organisation. This allows her to legally instruct at a national level in the UK and abroad for self defence, combat karate, combat wing chun and much more. Not only that, but she is able to grade others all the way up to black belt like someone had once done with her many years ago. By acquiring the award, Valusska is now a ‘Yudansha-Sandan’ (Sensei) which has made her a recognised member of the respected UK Self Defence Organisation.

Valusska is also kindly helping run the women’s refuge self-defence seminar in November, teaching women how to defend from attacks and how to escape an attack. Not only is this to help women stay safe and learn self-defence, but also to build their confidence up and fortify their mental strength. Valusska also noted that she will be grading her first set of black belts in January!

This is just a short snippet of Valusska’s achievements and we’re so proud to have her on board with us at SAS. Being able to perform and instruct a traditional form of martial arts is no easy feat; it would have taken a long time to get there and we know the skills she’s picked up along the way have helped mould her into an amazing Personal Trainer for us. She’s a great inspiration and role-model to all girls, and we hope she keeps up the fantastic work that she’s been doing.

Valusska can provide support to staff named on SAS policies with martial arts style training to keep active as part of the SAS Gym programme. For more information, please contact our personal trainers via asked@uk-sas.co.uk.

Building your confidence step-by-step

Those first steps when you decide there is something you want to change can be the most daunting feeling ever. Your confidence may be at an all-time low, and the thought of going to the gym sparks the fear of God into you. Motivation? Ugh, what is that! Is it a case of where to start or what will work? There are so many different choices around us and not much advice on what to do with it, so at times it can be confusing. Another thing that can be off-putting is the thought of people staring at you, which can sometimes give you an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. That’s always a worry if you are feeling self-conscious or feeling like it’s all too much. You may ask yourself, ‘how will feeling like this help my goals if I am daunted by all the fitness adverts I see’? The pressure to be ‘perfect’ can affect us all, but what is perfect for one person is not for the next. No one person needs to be the same; it’s acceptable with food so why not the same with body image? Individuality is what makes us special.

At SAS Gym we are here to help with not just training plans and weekly workout classes, we believe that it is important that building confidence in yourself and what you are doing is just as important as offering all round training support. Whether you are looking to lose weight, build strength, feel like you don’t know your body any more after a baby, or just want to change bits in general. Let us help you on that journey 💪😎

1 – Start with small steps and be proud for trying. Small attainable goals with things you enjoy are the best steps forwards.
2 – Buddy up with a friend that can join you to ease the nerves and have some fun, so you feel less intimidated whether at home or in the gym.
3 – Remembering not to overtrain and strain your body. This can set you back instead of propel you forwards, making you feel tired and disheartened as a result.
4 – Remember that everyone you meet is on the same journey, just because no-one speaks about it doesn’t mean they aren’t also self-conscious about something. This is normal for everyone to feel.
5 – Find a new sport to enjoy or ask for friendly advice at a local gym from a fitness professional. Once you break the ice in your own mind, you will be surprised at how fast you can reach goals that you once thought were unachievable.

Gaining confidence in the gym with SAS Gym

Confidence is a fickle attribute at times! We often show it in our work and around others we’re comfortable with. Many people outside of Education will think nothing is more intimidating than the thought of being the centre of attention, leading a class of students multiple times a day all year round. Throw in Parents Evenings, Sports Days and other demanding pressure-based situations and you’d think that confidence wouldn’t be a problem for those working in Schools and other facilities.

However, joining and attending a gym can commonly cause anxiety and this is completely understandable. You are potentially out of your usual comfort zone, engaging in new activities and exercising in front of people you don’t know.

There is no ‘magic formula’ to combatting these concerns, but there are a few things you can do to help reduce anxiety and therefore make the whole experience a more enjoyable and rewarding one:

1. Choose the right gym – The choice and variety of gyms and leisure facilities are ever increasing. Do some online research or ask people you know about their views and experiences at these establishments. Think about how that compares to what will make you feel more comfortable. How busy is it at times you would intend on going? What type of facility is it? i.e. Is it geared towards CrossFit and functional fitness, classes, or weight training etc.? This will help increase the likelihood of you finding somewhere you’ll feel comfortable training at.
2 – Be confident in what you’re wearing – In an ever-changing world of gym fashion there are so many brands out there to choose from, plus different cuts and styles too. Think about what you will feel less self-conscious exercising in. This will help decrease a concern you may be having before you’ve even walked through the gym doors.
3 – Be confident with the equipment that you’re using – This is another common cause of worry and concern which you can tackle in 2 ways. Firstly, use me and Valusska here at SAS Gym. We can talk you through how best to structure your first few gym sessions, send you videos of how to correctly perform exercises and use equipment. The 2nd is to book an induction. Most gyms offer an initial induction with a member of staff which will help familiarise yourself with the gym and the equipment. For best results, do both! By speaking to us first you’ll feel better prepared to take in and action the additional help you’ll receive on your induction.
4 – Plan your workout – Again, this is something we can help you with here at SAS Gym. Having a plan gives you a structure to follow and therefore decreases feelings of ‘what am I doing’ or ‘what should I do next’.
5 – Workout with a friend – Whether it’s with an experienced Gym Member or with someone who is perhaps also a little concerned about this environment too. Having someone familiar with you will help feel more at ease. In addition, having a training partner helps with motivation and consistency as you can support each other through the process.
6 – Attend during off-peak hours – If you live in an area where all the gyms are busy at peak times (usually this is from 5-7pm) and the sheer volume of people is a big obstacle to you feeling more at ease. Try going either earlier in the morning or later on in the evenings. Weekends are usually a quieter time too as attendance is spread out.

We hope these tips and tricks have helped you in some way, whether they gave you the confidence you need or gave you the necessary steps to make the first push forward towards confidence.

SAS Gym is complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance policies. You can get in touch with one of our in house personal trainers by emailing asked@uk-sas.co.uk.

For the month of August, we are celebrating the Ask Mandy Nurse Support Service with SAS! As part of our comprehensive staff wellbeing services, we offer Ask Mandy Nurse Support to those insured on SAS staff absence insurance policies.


Mandy is a registered nurse, with a special interest in palliative care. She has had experience working for the NHS for over 20 years. For over 10 years, Mandy has been a vital line of support to schools, working with SAS and supporting staff wellbeing queries. Mandy is an NMC registered Nurse that will support any query regarding your health. She also has the following qualifications:
• Community Practitioner – Nurse Prescriber
• Specialist Practitioner – District Nursing
• Registered Nurse

Staff can speak to Mandy about their individual health concerns and where possible she will refer them to SAS wellbeing support for treatment. Mandy aims to support any query regarding your health; this can include questions about counselling, chronic illness treatment options, menopause and more.
COVID Case Study – The SAS Wellbeing team was contacted in May 2020 by a female PE Teacher in her 30’s who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March 2020. In-house nurse Mandy supported, listened and offered her with general advice with regards to what she could do to not overexert herself and slowly resume normal activity.

Click here to read our long covid case study to see how our nursing team go above and beyond to make sure all aspects of a persons wellbeing are proactively cared for.

Ask Mandy nurse support service is available staff named on SAS policies and can be accessed by getting in touch with us at nurse@uk-sas.co.uk Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding SAS staff absence insurance policies or the Ask Mandy nurse support service, please contact us on 01773 814400.

SAS recently held a competition to win a free staff absence insurance policy for 2021/22.

We are pleased to announce the winner! Congratulations to Chilton Academy in County Durham!

See the prize draw video below

SAS is pleased to announce the launch of a new podcast, Active Education, which ties into diet, exercise and fitness for those in education.

SAS Personal Trainer Ed and one of his clients and Head of PE at a school in Hertfordshire Josh host a new podcast discussing diet, fitness and ways to keep motivated. Ed & Josh both have previous experience working within education and are passionate about encouraging others to get active. During this podcast, Ed & Josh will look at different topics every episode and offer facts, advice and ideas to those in education.

In the first podcast of the series, Ed & Josh talk about ways to stay motivated during the summer holidays, setting realistic goals and how exercise can impact your mental health.

Ed is a former PE teacher with 9 years’ experience, has been an active Personal Trainer for 16 years and has a Level 4 Diploma in Exercise and Nutrition. He is a qualified Instructor in a variety of Fitness based classes including: Spinning, Kettlebell, Pump FX, Circuits just to name a few.

Josh is the Head of PE for a school in Hertfordshire, where he has been the last 10 years after initially starting as a TA. Not only is Josh an avid gym goer, but he has also competed in football semi professionally and played in Russia, representing Great Britain in amateur tournament.

You can listen to the podcast and get updates when new episodes are available by searching any major podcast provider for Active Education, or alternatively, click the link below.

Click here to listen to the Active Education Podcast

And breathe….

The summer holidays are finally here! Time for school staff to take a much needed break to rest, relax and recharge. Here at SAS, during the summer we see an increase in requests for wellbeing as people start to take stock on how they are feeling physically and emotionally.

We thought it was important to remind everyone that we are available throughout the summer to ensure that staff have access to the Summer of Wellbeing. Please see the leaflet below with reminders about the physical and mental health support staff at schools insured by SAS have access to, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance.

To email our nurses, please send your name, school name, school postcode and the services you would like to access to nurse@uk-sas.co.uk. Requests can also be submitted via the SAS App, please click here to download. The team at SAS are available Monday – Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm and can be reached on 01773 814 403.

From all of the staff here at SAS, thank you for all of your incredible efforts over the last 18 months. We wish you a happy and restful summer holidays!

SAS Personal Trainers Ed & Valusska have put together some facts, tips and info to stay safe in the heat this summer while taking part in exercise.

SAS Gym is included complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance. All staff at schools insured by SAS have access to the SAS Gym app, which you can learn more about and download by clicking here.

Staff named on SAS policies have access to one-to-one personal trainer support. To contact Ed & Valusska for support, click here.

SAS National Wellbeing Director Andy Mellor took part in a Education Conversation podcast, The Importance of Purpose for Teacher Wellbeing.

Naomi Ward and Andy Mellor discuss the struggle of balancing wellbeing with a teaching career, and the importance of finding purpose when it comes to leadership and teaching. To find out more about the Schools Advisory Service Whole School Wellbeing partnership that is mentioned in the episode click here.

Click here to listen to the podcast on Spotify

SAS are pleased to announce that we have added the Living Well Assessment & Development programme to SAS Whole School Wellbeing support, complimentary with SAS staff absence insurance policies.

Click here to learn more and register for access to the Living Well Assessment & Development Programme.

Living well, being well, and doing well are interlinked

The online Living Well Assessment and Development Programme helps staff function and perform at their best. It raises self-awareness, gives them the skillset to make changes, and become a more empowered version of themselves.

Working through the programme’s chapters with your support and encouragement, in just a few days or weeks your staff will be able to:

  1. Be more present and aware, more ‘in-the-moment’, increasing their impact while reducing stress and anxiety.
  2. Remain resourceful and resilient so they can meet challenges and difficulties head on and make the most of opportunity.
  3. Focus energy and attention on what can be changed or improved, increasing efficiency and momentum, while minimising anxiety and worry.
  4. Create a more helpful and empowering internal narrative that builds self-confidence and self-esteem.
  5. Identify and change habits that are undermining their health, wellbeing, and success, to facilitate increased health, happiness and achievement.
  6. Connect more powerfully with people to form relationships that are healthy and productive.
  7. Harness the power of belief to move beyond self-imposed limits to liberate more potential and explore more of what is truly possible.
  8. Build a powerful vision and take action to achieve goals and master change.

Insight Triggers Change

Running the programme within your school produces deeper understanding of the source of any pressure, and helps identify where to target support.

We generate insight through:

A Consolidated Management Report – showing how many staff scored at each level in the 9 Living Well areas, providing some initial insight into where life pressures are being felt the greatest across the staff team.

A Consultation with one of our Living Well Consultants to explore and examine the results, and to discuss how best to respond in a way that improves wellness, productivity and achievement.

Our online development programme makes an immediate and positive difference – uplifting you, your team, and your school with our awesome range of stimulating activities and experiments. By helping your staff focus their energy and effort on what they can change, rather than what they can’t, they’ll feel more effective, be more productive, and experience less stress.

“Absolutely Awesome are really excited to be working with SAS to bring our Living Well Assessment & Development Programme to schools.  We have been empowering people to live their life well for over 25 years.  We are thrilled to now be helping cultivate proactive wellness in schools – enabling hard working staff to enjoy healthy, balanced lives.” Paul Crittenden, Absolutely Awesome

“SAS are delighted to offer our clients the Living Well Assessment and Development Programme. This is a fantastic opportunity for schools to better understand wellbeing needs and trends amongst their staff, as well as empowering those staff to make positive and productive changes within their life.” John Brady, SAS

SAS National Wellbeing Director Andy Mellor recently participated in a podcast with Headteacher Update, focused on protecting staff wellbeing across the school.

Throughout this podcast, Helen Frostick and her expert guests detail how primary schools can support the good wellbeing of their teaching staff and whole-school communities. The podcast includes lots of advice, ideas and practical tips from the expert guests, which included Andy.

Some of the topics include:

  • How to develop a culture of wellbeing
  • Workload
  • Wellbeing initiatives
  • Collaboration
  • Teacher autonomy
  • Protective wellbeing factors for staff
  • Overcoming imposter syndrome
  • Looking at your own wellbeing

Click here to listen to the podcast and learn more about this episode. 

SAS pupil Yoga Providers the Teen Yoga Foundation have kindly shared a resource about creating connections through yoga as covid restrictions start to lift and people start to get out and resume some of their normal activities. You can read more about this month’s theme by clicking here.

The Teen Yoga Foundation also have an event coming up on How Yoga Can Help with Social Anxiety & Intro to the Teen Yoga Foundation, which is free to access and will be on 31 July at 4:00pm. Please click here to book your space. 

One great way to create connection in your classes is by doing partner poses.  There are so many benefits:  enhances communication; deepens connection; builds trust and increases fun!

We do understand that with Covid there might be some limitations on what can be done with partners but we’ve all experienced the power of teach – we touch and are touched by others.  With that, we still wanted to provide partner poses for you to use in your class.

Click 01 07_02 Yoga for Connection POSES FOR CONNECTING for various partner poses that can be shared with your yogis.  These poses can be done at home with family members or friends in the park, now that summer is here.

  1. Ted Talk:  The Need for Connection and Why It Starts with Ourselves

This Ted Talk about connection is a must listen!  Molly Carroll, a trained therapist, shares her thoughts on the importance of connection and why it starts with ourselves.  She talks about how human connection lowers anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation, and how improving our connection with ourselves helps us better connect with others.  Time for all of us to strengthen our connection muscle!

Click HERE to listen to the talk.

  1. Connection Challenge

There are many different ways to connect.  Yes, it’s nice to connect with friends but how about connecting with nature?  Or maybe both at the same time?!

For our challenge this month, we encourage you and your yogis to create connection and take a picture.  That could be doing a partner pose with someone – or maybe a picture with shoes off, toes in the sand (or grass!), connecting with nature.  It could even be sitting back-to-back with a family member, bringing awareness to breath and creating connection.

Once you have a picture, post it to Instagram, tagging #teenyoga, and encourage others to do the same.  Create your own connection!

For the month of July we are celebrating Be Mindful, included for ALL staff at schools insured with SAS staff absence insurance! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer Be Mindful to insured schools.

Be Mindful is the only NHS approved mindfulness programme for schools. Over a four week programme, it will help instil coping strategies for stress and anxiety for the user.

Be Mindful is a practical approach to mindfulness with engaging videos and interactive sessions to teach a more effective way of handling stress and challenges. Sessions are online and on-demand with an easy to use pathway, simple instructions to follow and complete at your own pace. Accessible on any device with the ability to track your progress along the pathway with self-assessment tools that chart reductions in stress, depression and anxiety.

Users of Be Mindful with SAS have rated it 4.8 stars on average out of 5 upon completing the four week mindfulness programme. Be Mindful is available to staff insured with SAS staff absence insurance policies.

“Seeing my stress levels at the start and the end was amazing and proof that it really does work!”

“I was quite sceptical at first about the course but I am so glad I did it. Firstly I thought it would help me to understand my daughters anxieties and depression but as I progressed, I realised I have pressures of my own. The course helped me to realise that thoughts are not always real and the breathing strategies really do help you to switch off from unneeded thoughts. Also the length of the sessions are great because you don’t feel tied to it. Thank you for the opportunity of the mindfulness course.”

To learn more and register for Be Mindful, please click here to submit a request. Once validated, you will be sent a registration link (this is normally within 48 hours on working days) Please feel free to share this link with all staff at schools insured with SAS, who are able to access this support.

This week is World Wellbeing Week and if the last year has taught us anything, its how vital it is to be proactive about wellbeing. In the last year, we have seen thousands more school staff around the country reach out for not only services such as counselling, physiotherapy and nurse support to name a few, but also proactive services such as mindfulness and fitness and nutrition support. The last year has put our lives and what is important into perspective

Last year, SAS added 13 new proactive wellbeing support services to our whole school wellbeing support, included as standard with our staff absence insurance policies. SAS are invested in striving to prevent and reduce absences by identifying root causes and establishing a wellbeing service to support that need.  The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, some found time and positivity, whereas others felt isolated and stressed. To mark world wellbeing week, we are sharing some of our resources with everyone, designed to help individuals bolster their mental and physical health.

The Relaxation Room Podcast – Library of over 30 recordings including mindfulness, meditation, visualisation and hypnosis to support relaxation and promote overall better mental health. Guided by SAS Mindfulness & Wellbeing Consultant June, the podcasts have a variety of themes and have been incredibly popular since launching last summer.

Click here to listen to the Relaxation Room, or search any major podcast provider for SAS – The Relaxation Room

SAS Gym App & Fitness Support – Range of step by step instructional exercise programmes developed by SAS Personal Trainers Ed & Valusska to suit a range of abilities. Links to health apps and wearables to record progress towards fitness goals.  New workouts are regularly added to ensure users have the ability to challenge themselves with new routines.

Click here to download, or search the apple or google play app stores for SAS Gym

Our Personal Trainers have also shared other resources to help you on your fitness journey

Click here to see the SAS Workout Do’s and Don’ts

Click here to Access the Post-Partum Exercise Support

Pupil Wellbeing Worksheets & Challenges – SAS have a range of wellbeing themed worksheets and challenges available to help children of all ages learn more about wellbeing and are an ideal resource to start a conversation with pupils about how to look after their mental and physical health.

Click here to see the pupil wellbeing learning resources available

The most important thing for everyone to do this World Wellbeing Week is to take some time for themselves and work to acknowledge any needs you may have as well as acknowledge what you can do to support those around you. Those working at schools insured by SAS are reminded that there are a range of wellbeing resources available for all staff. Contact SAS to learn more about the services available to you on 01773 814 403.

The Euros kicked off this weekend with much fanfare and excitement, but the story that send shockwaves through the world was the events of the Denmark v Finland on Saturday.  Christian Eriksen is now in stable condition after suffering what doctors are saying was a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening match on Saturday. While shock is the emotion many watching around the world felt, it was the swift actions of Denmark’s captain Simon Kjaer who provided life saving intervention by securing his neck, checking his airway and starting CPR before the medics arrived at his side on the field. It was this quick response from Kjaer and the medics that no doubt saved Christian Eriksen’s life.

The events of this weekend highlighted how quick thinking and knowledge to take effective action can have a massive impact on a persons chances of survival. Statistics show that 100,000 people have a sudden cardiac arrest every year in the UK and only 1 in 10 survive. Bystander CPR trebles chances of survival (source: UK Coaching – see link below)

Looking to expand our own understanding of cardiac arrests and how to respond to similar events, we found a link via UK Coaching for free learning resources on how to identify and approach someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. We felt it was important to raise awareness to this training and encourage as many people as possible to take 30 minutes to learn more and be prepared and make sudden cardiac arrest deaths more preventable.

Register for Sudden Cardiac Arrest Digital Toolkit: Learn to Save a Life

Please note this is not an ad and SAS are not affiliated with this training.

For the month of June we are celebrating the Wellbeing Governance Lead E-module available with SAS policies! In partnership with the Carnegie School of Education, we offer the Mental Health & Wellbeing Governance Lead E-module to Schools and Governors.

The development of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Governance Lead will demonstrate your governing boards commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of both staff and pupils across the whole organisation. The creation of the role also emphasises the importance of establishing robust mental health in schools, providing equal opportunities, building resilience and developing support strategies and tools.

Completion of the online course will award a governor with the ‘Carnegie Mental Health & Wellbeing Governance Lead’ status.

The E-module Includes:

  • Self-assessment diagnostic for the governing board to assess their strategic approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing in their school.
  • Action planning template to be used as a guide to support governing boards in their strategic planning.
  • Online mentor support.
  • A description of the role and responsibilities for the Governance Lead role.
  • Recommended questions for in-school visits.
  • Up-to-date information on school policy.
  • A multiple-choice assessment.

Any member of an academy trust board, academy trust local governing body or maintained school governing body can apply.

To learn more, click here to see the Wellbeing Governance leaflet. Contact your SAS account manager or email sales@uk-sas.co.uk to access, or for any further information you require. You can also watch a quick video by clicking here. 

It’s already the summer term! We have been up to a lot here at SAS and we are really excited to share news about new products, services and stories since the last term. Check out our latest SAS newsletter for summer 2021 below to learn more.

Click here to see the SAS Summer Term Newsletter

SAS pupil Yoga Providers the Teen Yoga Foundation have kindly shared a resource about how yoga can support pupils during exam times. You can read more about this month’s theme by clicking here.

The Teen Yoga Foundation also have an event coming up on the Pros & Cons Of Online Teaching & How To Make The Most Of It With Teens, which is free to access and will be on 26 May at 9:30am. Please click here to book your space. 


The practice we are providing for this month offers a way to to create a calm, steady mind and body, particularly as we come into exam season.

Finding stability and ease in our yoga practice can help us calm both our minds and body, on and off the mat.  This practice focuses on Sthira and Sukha.  You might want to take your class outside for this practice so that not only will your students find stability and ease but they can do so while also connecting with nature.

You can download the whole sequence here:01 05_01 Yoga for Exam Time PRACTICES FOR CREATING STABILITY AND EASE

You could use some of the sequence or the entire sequence.

And we also have a short blog on active listening:


We are probably all familiar with active listening – listening for the full meaning of a message, responding to emotions, and noticing nonverbal communications.  Given all the listening we do, you think we’d be good at it but we’re not particularly good at it.  Research suggests that we only remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear.  With active listening, we become better listeners, better communicators, develop more meaningful relationships, and build empathy.

We thought it might be helpful to share some active listening techniques.  Your teens might find this information useful, too.  They themselves might be going through some stressful things so would appreciate your active listening but they might also want to support their friends who are experiencing the same.  Active listening is a great starting point!

Here are some active listening techniques: https://teenyogafoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/01-05_04-Yoga-for-Exam-Time-ACTIVE-LISTENING.pdf

You can learn more about the Teen Yoga Foundation by clicking here. 

The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools was established in 2017. It was the first Centre of its kind in the UK. It is based from the Carnegie School of Education, based at Leeds Beckett University and is in partnership with Minds Ahead CIC.

The Carnegie Centre exists to strengthen the mental health of the next generation by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK’s education system, thereby improving outcomes and life chances.

The Centre’s approach in supporting education settings is focused on evidence-based solutions which address schools’, pupils’ and parents’/carers’ needs.

The Centre places emphasis on developing the leadership capacities of schools / colleges, so that they have sustained capacity to improve in the longer term and can go on to strengthen mental health in their wider community.

The impact of the Centre’s work has been wide-reaching and has worked with over 2,000 schools on our portfolio of provision including: individual schools, multi academy trusts, groups of schools within teaching school alliances, schools belonging to membership organisations and whole local authorities.

The Centre offers provision for school colleagues at all stages of their career by offering professional learning programmes and developmental frameworks and workshops for individuals, schools and groups of schools and by facilitating and encouraging professional conversations through online and face to face communities, webinars, networks and conferences.

Our current provision focuses on:

  • School Mental Health Award
  • Leadership Development Programme for School Mental Health Lead
  • Developing a Whole School Approach to Mental Health Workshop
  • Leading Mental Health from the Middle Programme
  • Carnegie Governance Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • MSc in Leadership of School Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Suite of Masterclasses

The School Mental Health Award currently has over 1000 schools working towards the framework. A recent impact study of the School Mental Health Award showed that:

94% of schools who worked towards the School Mental Health Award agreed that the award improved the mental health leadership in their schools.

88% of schools agreed that staff wellbeing improved

94% of schools agreed that the award created a more positive culture in their school

The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health sits within a wider scope at the Carnegie School of Education titled ‘CreatED by Carnegie School of Education’ which has additional Research and Practice Centre’s which focus on:

Coaching, Mentoring and Professional Learning (CollectivED: The Centre for Coaching, Mentoring and Professional Learning)

LGBTQ+ Inclusion (Centre for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Education)

Mental Health in Schools (Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools)

Inclusive and Creative Learning through Story (Storymakers Company)

Race, Education and Decoloniality (Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality)

Supervision in Education (National Hub for Supervision in Education)

Our communities will build on the experiences and expertise of our members with facilitators offering challenge and insight to support reflection and to develop a further knowledge base.

Connecting what we know with what we do?

‘Although most people are naturally curious and social beings our professional lives can sometimes feel solitary.  We have each gained qualifications based on our own merit, secured a job by being edging out the competition and are performance-managed as an individual. Our working lives can be intense and workload means we sometimes feel more efficient by knuckling down to solve a problem, create a resource or face the day without the distraction of others.  But as a collective we can combine our expertise, we can co-construct better ways to approach the complexities we face and we can gain a sense of solidarity which makes us more powerful’.

Professor Rachel Lofthouse, Director of CollectivED.

Carnegie School Mental Health and Wellbeing Leads Community

The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools has recently launched the free to join Carnegie School Mental Health and Wellbeing Leads Community.

Our aim is to build a community that supports and empowers school-based colleagues who are committed to strengthening the mental health and wellbeing for their whole school communities. Colleagues will have the opportunity to meet and engage with peers and experts within the field of School Mental Health.

The community will be developmental, with a range of monthly and bi-monthly activity. School colleagues will have the opportunity to access themed conversations led by Andy Mellor, Strategic Lead for the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools and National Director of Wellbeing at SAS.

Members will also have access to CPD, Podcasts and Webinars. Opportunities to attend roadshows and network meetings along with monthly ‘drop-ins’ at our School Mental Health Lead Lab where school mental health leads will be able to access advice, support and guidance from other school mental health leads and take part in small scale research projects and co-enquiry groups.

We look forward to welcoming people to the community.

If you have any questions about the community please do contact me: @Rachelbostwick1

Rachel Bostwick – r.bostwick@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

For the month of April we are celebrating SAS Gym! As part of our comprehensive whole school wellbeing services, we offer SAS Gym to insured schools.

SAS GYM is an app that provides users with the ability to access a range of exercise programmes, developed by our in-house personal trainers, while monitoring progress towards fitness goals. SAS GYM helps its users to improve their overall health and bioage.

SAS GYM is available for ALL STAFF at schools insured by SAS staff absence insurance and is available nationwide. Within the app you will find:

  • Range of step by step instructional exercise programmes developed to suit a range of abilities
  • Links to health apps and wearables to record progress towards fitness goals
  • Special offers on nutritional supplements, equipment & much more
  • Take part in monthly SAS GYM challenges

Join SAS Gym for live group sessions every Wednesday & Thursday at 5pm. SAS Personal Trainers Ed & Valusska will take staff insured on our policies through a full body workout suitable for all levels of fitness & abilities.



SAS GYM is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by clicking the links below. Alternatively,  If you have any questions regarding SAS GYM please contact Personal Trainer Ed for more information at asked@uk-sas.co.uk or phone us on 01773 814400.



Click here to download from Apple App Store

Click here to download from Google Play Store

SAS Gym Personal Trainers Ed & Valusska have created a programme to support new mothers return to normal activity at a safe pace.

Please see the videos and workout guide below. Staff insured on SAS staff absence insurance policies can contact Ed & Valusska for personalised support. To contact Ed & Valusska, email asked@uk-sas.co.uk

Important: It is important to resume exercise slowly and at your own pace. If you experience any discomfort or abnormal bleeding please stop immediately and seek advice from your doctor before resuming activity.

SAS Personal Trainer Ed Introduces the SAS Gym Post Partum support programme.

SAS Personal Trainer Ed takes viewers through two light exercises designed to safely strengthen your core after giving birth. Cat / Cow table top and crunches.

SAS Personal Trainer Valusska takes viewers through two light exercises designed to safely strengthen your core after giving birth. Hip Bridge & Pelvis Tilt.

SAS Gym have recently had a number of queries from those looking to get out and exercise in the fresh air who have concerns about their safety. SAS Personal Trainer Valusska has offered some martial arts related advice to empower people and give them confidence to react if they feel unsafe.

Valusska has been a fully dedicated martial artist for 16+ years. She is now an accredited 2nd Dan Black belt in full contact freestyle karate and traditional Shotokan karate. Valusska has a number of achievements under her belt, winning best Hall of fame karate student of the year for Cambridgeshire 2 years running, 3 gold medals, 4 silver and 1 bronze for freestyle full contact fighting, 4 trophies for best Shotokan kata, and a specialist trophy for best karate student of the year for the club Valusska attended and taught at.




As the nights get lighter and we encourage you as personal trainers to walk outside more, we feel that your safety is also of key importance to us. After having over 16 years of Martial Arts and Hand to Hand Combat training including self -defence, I would like to share some key points to keep your safety as the main priority when enjoying your enjoying morning , day, evening walks or runs.

  • Trust Your Gut- If it feels wrong, it most always is wrong, we have instinct as a survival mechanism for a reason. Do not be afraid to trust your own judgement.
  • Attacks happen when the target is an easy option- How many times when walking are you unaware because you are on your phone or have headphones in and possibly a hood up where you can’t see 360 degrees? Most attacks happen from the back or side because the target is unaware.
  • Fight- Flight-Freeze– This is your bodies natural response to danger which can come in 3 stages- alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. For some people, adrenaline kicks in they will fight. For others, the surge of cortisol will make them flee but there are a few who will freeze as the mind is searching for the tools that are not available to deal with the scenario that they have been put in.

 How to deal with danger safely

  • Open hand/palm of your hand strike- Keeping your hands open gives you the ability to strike the face using the heel part of your hand (aim for the eye nose area) or to slap the ear as hard as you can all of which will disorientate your attacker to give you the best opportunity to run. It also prevents you from injuring your hands or wrists if you must use this technique.
  • Elbow Strike – The elbow is the hardest and sharpest bone in the human body which means an elbow will cause maximum effect when hitting a target area at close range and is more effective and safer than trying to throw a punch given it has a larger surface area, it is also not going to miss and will have the desired effect where a punch would not be as reliable or strong. Elbow strikes are only to be used in extreme circumstances and the best areas of the body to land a strike are to the side of the face, under the chin or to the ribs if able. Do not be afraid to use the attackers force as momentum to land the strike as the velocity will make it more effective.
  • Knee/shin Strike– A primary self-defence kick if there is enough distance is to raise your hands up in front of the attackers face (this stops them from seeing what you plan to do as they automatically focus on your hands and scream at the same time as they will not want attention drawn to them) while you then strike/kick with your shin with the top part of your foot (never use the lower part of your foot or toes you will injure yourself) to the outside of the attackers knee or you can stomp down on the inner fleshy part of the kneecap in the centre which would cause them to buckle if you miss for any reason as your foot lands it sets you up perfectly to use your knee to strike the inside of the thigh/groin area again having the same desired effect giving you the chance to get away.
  • Give them you bag/phone- In some instances people do not intend to hurt you they just want your belongings. Throw your bag, phone, or wallet as far as you can away from you and when they turn to go after it run in the opposite direction cards can be cancelled phones can be replaced lives cannot.

Looking for ways to keep active over the spring holidays? SAS Personal Trainers Ed & Valusska have created the below resource which includes tips to staying active, maintaining balance and ways to keep fit.

SAS are pleased to announce two further additions to our comprehensive whole school wellbeing support for 2021/22. From April 2021, the NHS approved Feeling Good audio app and the Feeling Good For Schools Programme are available with SAS policies.

Developed and tested in the NHS, the Feeling Good App is now used for staff wellbeing and stress management across many workplaces including the NHS. The Feeling Good App has NHS digital app approval – a sign of its efficacy, safety and data security. The app is also a Winner of the prestigious 2019 Herald Higher Education award.

‘Feeling Good For Schools’ is a series of 2 six week wellbeing/resilience programmes for KS3 pupils that takes a non-stigmatising approach to positive mental health. What makes it different from other wellbeing programmes is that it is based on repeated, daily listening to short audio tracks to build key skills for coping and resilience. The tracks have been developed by Foundation for Mental Health GP and Psychologist MDs from our NHS-approved adult versions of similar tracks that form a mental health recovery programme using sports psychology (visualisation; learning and practising strategies).

Health Psychologist and Psychotherapist Sheila Ross of the Foundation for Positive Mental Health said of the partnership “The Foundation for Positive Mental Health (FPMH) is delighted to partner with the Schools Advisory Service to bring you Feeling Good for Schools, an independently evaluated programme for whole school wellness, focusing on KS3. With SAS support and endorsement schools can benefit from extra savings, and feel confident that they are making the right choice for their schools, staff and pupils. FPMH is a charity dedicated to promoting positive mental health, for everyday wellbeing, through skills acquisition, many of which come from sports coaching. Everyone can benefit from building resilience, like they do from brushing their teeth”

Andy Mellor, National Wellbeing Director of SAS said “Schools Advisory Service have proved time and again that not only do we talk about improving mental health and wellbeing, we find and provide our schools with resources that support mental health and wellbeing as part of their policies with us. I’m delighted that The Foundation for Positive Mental Health are the latest organisation to join with us to support our schools with their Feeling Good app which we are making FREE to schools with SAS policies. This is just the latest in a long line of free resources designed to support our schools in keeping their staff healthy and fulfilled in the work and home life.”

The Feeling Good staff app is available for all staff at schools insured with SAS staff absence insurance policies, including those not named on the policy. The Feeling Good For Schools Programme is available at no cost until the start of the summer holidays. From the start of the summer holidays, SAS will cover a portion of the cost of the programme.

To learn more or sign up for the Feeling Good school staff app, please click here. Please share this link with staff at your school that you feel may also be interested in accessing this support.
To learn more or register your school for the Feeling Good For Schools Programme, please click here. Please note: this is aimed at KS3+ aged pupils.

For the Month of April we are celebrating Thrive, CBT and relaxation therapies, included for ALL staff at schools insured with SAS staff absence insurance.


As part of our comprehensive wellbeing support, the Thrive App is available to all staff at your school, not just those named on your policy. We also offer a pupil version of the app which is available for use to support relaxation and meditation techniques in the classroom and is suitable for children 11+

Thrive is a powerful prevention tool now recognised by the NHS and has over 1,000,000 users who can access the level of support they need when it suits them and take day to day action to manage their mental health.

Thrive for Staff and the new Pupil Thrive both contain lots of different features designed to help mental health and help reduce anxiety and stress:

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) programme
  • Over 100+ hours of content including a range of stress reducing sessions ideal to listen to as part of group meditation.
  • Games to distract your mind.
  • A progress journal tracking your moods, stressors and reminding you of the good days!

Thrive uses games to track your mood and teach you methods to take control of stress and anxiety. Learn relaxation techniques like meditation and deep-breathing to help you cope better with stressful situations and manage negative thoughts.

The app’s Mood Meter lets you track your mood, the emotions you feel and the situation you were in at the time. It then reminds you of how you reacted on a previous occasion to make your feel better.

The Thrive App is included in SAS Policies as standard and can be accessed by clicking the links below. Alternatively,  If you have any questions regarding the Thrive App please contact your account manager for more information. You can also reach the team by emailing sales@uk-sas.co.uk or calling 01773 814400.

Click here to access the school staff sign up form

Click here to access the classroom sign up form

MeeToo Connect: Because the first step in solving any problem is being able to identify it in the first place.

We’ve had a lot to worry about in the last year, but in recent months, the impact of COVID on the mental health of children and adolescents has become a growing cause for concern. The number of children with a probable mental disorder has increased to one in six, from one in eight in 2017 (MHCYP, 2020) and predictably, it is the most vulnerable children who have been worst affected. Prior to COVID, only 25 per cent of young people with diagnosable mental health issues got the care they needed on the NHS, yet the Centre for Mental Health predicts that another 500,000 previously healthy children under the age of 18 will require mental health care as a result of the pandemic.

When it comes to youth mental health, there is no doubt that COVID has created a crisis on top of a crisis, but what does it mean for you personally and professionally? As a headteacher or a DSL, you are already constantly on the lookout for the kids who look like they might be struggling. You and your staff know ‘safeguarding’. You have been trained to spot the signs of neglect, abuse or bullying, and you already know the ‘difficult’ families, and the school refusers because they take up a lot of your staff’s time and attention. But what about the other children? The ones with the issues that you can’t see? How do you spot a teenager who is battling her body, when only 6% of people with eating disorders are clinically underweight (Arcelus, Jon et al., 2011)? And how do you identify the student who is exercising to the point of punishment, or secretly swallowing small quantities of poisonous substances such as bleach, if there are no visible signs that they are self-harming? Mental health and wellbeing exist on a spectrum, and most issues only become apparent when they are so severe that the young person requires crisis support. By then, the damage is done; to the young person, to their family, to your school and indeed, to you.

Although the headlines about youth mental health have intensified in the last six months, none of this is new. We launched the MeeToo mental help app in response to the 2017 Mental Health of Children and Young People in England report which found that one in eight 5 to 19 year olds had at least one diagnosable mental disorder. Although early intervention reduces the risk of mental health issues escalating (Heim et al., 2012), the prevailing 1-2-1 counselling model could not cope with demand. In contrast, the MeeToo pre-moderated, digital peer support model provides a cost effective and scalable way to provide young people with immediate access to free, safe, anonymous support through a mobile phone.

The MeeToo app now supports 50,000 young people in the UK and is part of the NHS apps library. Posts are anonymous, but the app is safe for children as young as 11 because a team of ten paid moderators and four counsellors check, tag, and risk assess every post and reply before publication. When we started out, the sole purpose of moderation was to provide safeguarding. What we didn’t anticipate was how much a clean, categorised and accessible dataset could tell us about youth mental health and wellbeing. In order to share our learning, we developed MeeToo Connect, a data driven interoperable service that allows us to provide students with support, and schools with aggregate, anonymised, data insights from their own students. A companion app for teachers means we can track professional stress levels too. We can explore data by topic, by age, by gender, by time of year and we can compare what is happening at a National level to what is happening in your school.

Every new innovation needs early adopters, and Jeff Kayne, Deputy Head (Pastoral) and DSL of Forest School, London was one of the first people to recognise the potential of our MeeToo Connect service. Although all Forest school students have access to 1-2-1 Counselling if they need it, Jeff is a firm believer in 360˚ provision. He understands that if you want to encourage students to ask for help, you need to provide a range of support options which they can access in their own time, and on their own terms. The first Forest school data report roughly followed National patterns, but students scored higher than average on ‘coming out’ and ‘eating disorders’. Jeff is now taking preventative steps by raising awareness, publicising support options and educating all staff and students in order to decrease stigma and increase empathy.

The power of our dataset means that we are uniquely positioned to educate educators, but first, we have to persuade professionals who genuinely believe that they know everything about their staff and their students, that they might only be getting half the picture. We know that it is hard to justify expenditure on prevention because you can’t measure a crisis that has been averted, however research shows, time and again, that more than half of all crises are caused by inaction (Kádárová, 2008). Any school that has lost a student because of mental health issues knows that it is less painful and more cost effective, to prepare and prevent, than it is to repair and repent.

For more information about MeeToo and the MeeToo Connect service visit www.meetoo.help or contact info@meetoo.help

SAS recently held a competition to win a free staff absence insurance policy for 2021/22.

We are pleased to announce the winner! Congratulations to Great Waltham Primary School in Chelmsford!

See the prize draw video below

In the last twelve months, EduPod’s creator, Dr Asha Patel and her team at Innovating Minds have been on a winning streak and so we asked her to share her story with SAS.

EduPod is available with SAS staff absence insurance policies and helps to provide mental health leads with tools to plan, manage and evaluate their journey to creating happy and mentally healthy environments for the whole school community. SAS clients can access this support by contacting their account manager.

Our journey over the last twelve months

Five years ago, I decided to set up Innovating Minds. I had worked for over 10 years in in community and inpatient settings, in psychiatric rehabilitation, secure forensic mental health hospitals and in education. I had met many people whose lives might have been so different if they had been able to access specialist psychological support at a key moment in their life. Since then, I have striven to open up specialist trained support for children, families and employees so that they can benefit from early mental health interventions.


At first, I was working face to face with just a few schools and then I started to employ other clinical psychologists. I soon realised that demand was so intense that we could never keep pace if we relied just on face-to-face interventions. I started to look at digital solutions – a one stop shop with information, advice and accredited training. I wanted to be able to offer an affordable and accessible service for people on the ground who supported others. This could be teachers, Mental Health Leads or counsellors who was focused on creating a whole school approach to mental health.

When we started to introduce our new services, we soon found that EduPod met a distinct need and we were encouraged to enter for awards.

We heard we had been shortlisted for the Greater Birmingham Asian Business Chamber of Commerce annual awards. Our main office is based in Kings Norton and the ceremony took place  at the National Motorcycle Museum on 7th December. We were delighted to find that we had won the Contribution to Society Award, which was presented by Nina Wadia, famous for her role in EastEnders.


In March 2020 we won an Amazon Scale Up –Social Enterprise Award. This was very exciting, and we were so looking forward to attending the formal dinner, hosted by comedian Tom Allen, at the London Hilton on Park Lane. Thanks to coronavirus this was postponed but we hope to enjoy a live celebration at some stage in 2021.

In December 2020 I won a NatWest Every Women Award in the social enterprise category. The Gaia Award, sponsored by Montezuma’s Chocolates, was for a female business leader who had a social enterprise that combined strong community benefits with a sustainable business model.

Finally, at the beginning of 2021, Innovating Minds were announced as winners of the Mental Health Platform Development Company of the Year 2021 at The Corporate LiveWire Innovation & Excellence Awards.

These rewards have been very encouraging to the team at Innovating Minds. The judges have recognised our professional skills and expertise and the impact of our work. It was a challenge to move away from traditional models of delivery and there were times in the early days when we wondered if it would work. As it turned out, we had correctly anticipated the increased demand for mental health services and the upsurge of interest in learning online.

Along the way, we have been lucky enough to meet organisations such as the Schools Advisory Service (SAS) and develop a partnership. SAS is the largest and only DfE approved supplier of staff absence insurance in the UK. As part of their comprehensive support, they offer EduPod to their customers.  EduPod provides mental health leads with tools to plan, manage and evaluate their journey to creating happy and mentally healthy environments for the whole school community.

Emily Proffitt (National Executive at NAHT & Headteacher) a SAS staff absence insurance policy holder said, “I have completed my first self-assessment. Really pleased with the speed of this and the starting point for us to review.”

Our partnership with SAS is enabling schools create happy and mentally healthy environments which will impact on future generations.

Following the return of all pupils into schools across the UK, many schools and academies are looking at where to start when capturing wellbeing data on pupils, staff or parents. Bounce Together (a platform for measuring and monitoring physical and mental wellbeing and the attitudes of a school’s community), are offering schools a FREE wellbeing survey for pupils, staff or parents. Schools are also entitled to a free 30-minute slot to go through their individual survey report and results.

Click the here to learn more about the surveys available and to take part.

Over 2,500 people have taken the surveys so far, and the results are indicative of how children and adults alike have been struggling with their wellbeing in these unprecedented times. In response to “I’ve been feeling cheerful about things” and “I think good things will happen in my life”, almost 20% and 15% respectively of children are answering “never” or “not much of the time”. For staff, over 25% have responded they would rate their overall mental health as bad or very bad.

Bounce Together are a member of the National Wellbeing Partnership. You can visit the Bounce Together partnership page by clicking here. 

How is Your School Approaching Wellbeing?

Schools reopened their doors to the wider school community this week and once again schools and their staff face an unprecedented demand on time, energy and resources. Our market research and insight shows us that as restrictions begin to lift and the enormity of the last 12 months starts to settle in, stress and maternity related absences are expected to rise around 28% and 23% respectively.

SAS are hosting a wellbeing themed webinar with the aim of helping provide school leadership with ideas and practical content to support staff as they welcome the wider school community.

Throughout the sessions we will be running polls, which will enable you to see how you are responding in comparison to other school professionals. Attendees are encouraged to take regular breaks and dip in and out of the sessions as it suits your schedule. 


Click here to book your place for the below events

Tuesday 16 March
9:30 Welcome
9:40 Paul Crittenden: Staff Wellbeing
10:00 Andy Mellor: National Wellbeing Director
11:00 Mandy Dowsing: Lead Nurse
11:30 Anita Sangot: Sales Executive
12:00 Dr Asha Patel: Edupod
12:30 Rebecca Wilson-Walsh: Head of Counselling
13:00 Tricia Baxendale: SAS Nurse
13:30 Anita & Andy: Q&A

Wednesday 17 March
9:30 Welcome
9:40 Paul Crittenden: Staff Wellbeing
10:00 Mandy Dowsing: Lead Nurse
10:30 Leeds Beckett: School Mental Health Award
11:00 Andy Mellor: SAS National Wellbeing Director
11:30 Anita Sangot: Sales Executive
12:00 Dr Asha Patel: Edupod
12:30 Rebecca Wilson-Walsh: Head of Counselling
13:00 Nathan: Emotional Logic
13:30 Anita & Andy: Q&A

Thursday 18 March
9:30 Welcome
9:40 Paul Crittenden: Staff Wellbeing
10:00 Andy Mellor: National Wellbeing Director
10:30 Rebecca Wilson-Walsh: Head of Counselling
11:00 Anita Sangot: Sales Executive
11:30 Mike Hodgson: Physiotherapist
12:00 Stephen Morales: ISBL Chief Executive
12:30 Tricia Baxendale: SAS Nurse
13:00 Nishi Mehta: Maternity Support
13:30 Anita & Andy Q&A

Fitness & Relaxation Evening Sessions

To illustrate some of the proactive mental and physical wellbeing services that SAS offer, we will also be hosting three evening sessions from 5pm. Please feel free to share the link to book the evening sessions with your staff as they are available to everyone.  

First, SAS Personal Trainer Ed will host a live 30 minute workout which is suitable for anyone beginners to advanced. From 5:30 SAS Mindfulness & Wellbeing Consultant June will be hosting a live relaxation session.

Click here to book your space in the evening fitness and relaxation sessions. 

Many of the services included within the Wellbeing in Education webinar are included with SAS staff absence insurance policies. You can learn more about SAS Wellbeing by clicking here. 

For the month of March, we are celebrating the SAS Ask Andy School Leadership Support Month! As part of our comprehensive Whole School Wellbeing service, we offer the School Mental Health Award to insured schools.

In these uncertain times, the right guidance and support can go a long way in helping you and your school stay on the right track. As part of SAS services, former NAHT president and current SAS national wellbeing director is here to offer leadership coaching & guidance to insured school leadership.

Andy has over 30 years’ experience of teaching and leading in the state education system in England. From May 2018 to May 2019 Andy was the National President of the NAHT. He left headship in December 2019 to become National Director of Wellbeing for Schools Advisory Service, sharing the organisation’s vision for all schools to become wellbeing friendly for both staff and pupils.

Andy is on hand to support school leaders build a whole school wellbeing culture from scratch, building a wellbeing curriculum that raises standards and builds good mental health and wellbeing and supporting governors in giving a strategic lead to wellbeing. School leaders at schools insured with SAS can contact Andy for personalised queries.

As you may have seen already, Andy does a monthly blog about current events for school staff and leadership, and from the start of 2021, now has a guest wellbeing blog with contributions from a range of wellbeing experts. On the Ask Andy hub, Andy also shares health and wellbeing resources which are publicly available for schools to access.

Here is what some of our customers had to say about Andy’s support:

“Thank you so much for the time you gave me earlier. I found the discussion really supportive. I feel more empowered now to move forward, thank you for your guidance.”

–  Feedback from school staff about Ask Andy presentation

“I’ve just read your post to senior leaders about stress and the fact that we really need to switch off this half term and just wanted to say thank you. It is nice that someone has taken time out to try and ensure senior leaders have a break too.”

–  Feedback from school staff about Ask Andy blog Post

“This has really helped me tonight. It’s been a really tricky half term for a number of reasons but reading this tonight, has lifted me. Things have been particularly challenging!”

–  Feedback from school staff about Ask Andy blog posts

For more information or to access this support, you can contact Andy at askandy@uk-sas.co.uk.

Alternatively, contact SAS at 01773 814 400.

Developing a whole school approach to mental health can be challenging. I remember signing up to speak this topic at the TES Special Needs show in Islington in October 2018 and wondering how it would be received.

On the one hand, a year earlier 100,000 people had signed a petition calling for mental health education to be made compulsory in primary and secondary schools. There were plans for schools to teach children how to build mental resilience and to spot signs of poor mental health in their friends. However, there was also a sense that perhaps this was not the job of schools and that teachers should be focusing on the curriculum.

There was the added pressure that many schools and academies prided themselves on their ‘zero tolerance’ policies when it came to behaviour, school uniform, homework and school rules. Some senior leaders worried that their schools would be seen to be lax, that their reputation would suffer and that some of their best staff and pupils would go elsewhere.

We were urging schools to plan a whole school approach that would require them:

  • To audit their current provision, systems and polices
  • Receive feedback from the school community (governors, all staff, parent/carers and students)
  • Organise mental health training for all staff, not just the teachers
  • Review all policies (especially behaviour and safeguarding) to ensure mental health is embedded, and behaviours are viewed as a form of communication
  • Utilise evidence-based interventions and develop capacity internally. If external organisations/professionals are used, it is important the school become a member of the multi-disciplinary team.
  • Record and measure progress/impact
  • Develop a strategy rather than a fire-fighting approach to create a whole school approach to mental health.

In the beginning we thought about a model where we would put a clinical psychologist into settings to support children and staff. We quickly realised that this was not going to work. We had such a torrent of requests from schools that we was not able to meet the demand.

In addition, schools were not familiar the mental health landscape and specialist provision and had little in the way of budget. Another issue was that every school wanted us to start at once!

We created EduPod as a new way for mental health leads to set in motion a whole school approach to mental health. Schools would be able to purchase professional mental health resources, action plans and pre-generated surveys at an affordable price.

Ellie Watson is a class teacher at Burneston Primary School and has found it a real time-saver: ‘I’ve found EduPod really easy to use and straight forward. After completing the self assessment audit tool and receiving the completed surveys, the dashboard gives a visual, clear overview of areas that we should focus on, which correlates with what we are seeing in our classrooms since children returned in September. ‘

EduPod gives schools access to clinical consultations with a team of Clinical Psychologists and to share concerns and good practice with the online community forum which brings together people working in educational and healthcare settings.

Lyn Roberts, School Business Manager and Mental Health Lead, Castle View Primary and Nursery School has found that this level of support has been beneficial: ‘The role of Mental Health Lead was new to me and felt a bit alien.  EduPod has given my role a sense of direction and structure. Without it I would not have made so much progress this term with ensuring a focus was on mental health in our school. Although it looked like a huge task to begin with, EduPod has helped me to think of it as a little and often tasks. For example, sending out the pre-generated surveys took minutes and we’ve had a fantastic number of responses, which we can use to focus our attention in the near future. EduPod and the clinical support from Zoe has given me confidence to grow and lead in my role.’

In 2019/20 Schools Advisory Service (SAS) invested over £4million on providing wellbeing services to schools across the UK. No other staff absence insurance provider invests as much in wellbeing support as SAS. A part of this comprehensive support is a partnership with Edupod, which provides mental health leads with tools to plan, manage and evaluate their journey to creating happy and mentally healthy environments for the whole school community. SAS clients can access this support by contacting their account manager.

If your school is keen to take the next step in their mental health and wellbeing journey, we can provide the resources and support you will need.

Contact: Deborah Merrick, Relationship Manager,


Guest Wellbeing Blog Submissions are provided by SAS through Ask Andy Pastoral and Wellbeing Support. Click here to learn more about Ask Andy. 

Before you renew your staff absence cover come along to one of the DfE Schools Commercial Team and SAS webinars.

This DfE approved framework, provided by Crescent Purchasing Consortium and Schools Advisory Service is designed to meet the needs of schools. This online session will outline the benefits of the product and explain how to access this DfE approved framework.

SAS is a DfE approved supplier of staff absence insurance in the UK.

Click here to find DfE Framework 

Please see the sessions available to book below:

Webinar 1 Tue, 2 March 2021 10:30 – 11:00

Webinar 2 Thu, 4 March 2021 11:00 – 11:30

Webinar 3 Tue, 9 March 2021 11:00 – 11:30

Webinar 4 Thu, 11 March 2021 14:00 – 14:30

If you have any questions ahead of the event, please email sales@uk-sas.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you there!