A Focus on Staff Wellbeing
The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter defines wellbeing as:
‘How we are doing’ that includes, but is not limited to, our physical and mental health and the quality of our social relationships. Well-being can, therefore, be described as a state of total health that is not merely the absence of disease or illness.
When considering the success of our pupils, we must actively consider staff well-being and how low morale, increased stress levels, increasing workload, and illness and absence can seriously impact the end goal that a school or college is trying to achieve. Concisely put, we need to look after our staff so they can look after our children.
Several well-being reports have been released recently that have shared some stark statistics. At Juniper, we have looked at the Teacher Wellbeing Index and the TES school well-being report.
Teacher Well-being Index Key Findings
The Teacher Well-being Index focused on 4 key areas in their survey: The challenges in 2023, the mental health of education staff, loneliness, and the impact of inspections. Below are some of the key findings from the report:
- 78% of all staff are stressed (89 % senior leaders/ 78% school teachers)
- 55% of staff consider their organisation’s culture to have a negative effect on their well-being
- 46% of all staff say their organisations do not support employees who have mental health and well-being problems ( 44% of senior leaders/ 49% of school teachers)
- 81% of staff experienced symptoms due to their work
- 39% of all staff have experienced a mental health issue in the past academic year
- 26% of staff experience at least one aspect of feeling isolated, left out or lacking companionship at work
- 22% of staff from a global majority background always, or often, feel lonely at work compared with 13% of white staff
- 17% of staff always, or often feel left out at work
- 73% of staff consider inspections are not fit for purpose
- 73% of staff consider inspections do not improve learner achievement
- 71% of staff consider inspections to impact their mental health and well-being negatively
TES Well-being Report
The TES well-being report focused on funding and resources, workload and work-life balance, confidence, motivation and enjoyment, communication, feedback and development, engagement and relationships. They heard from 5,858 UK-based school staff, and here are the key findings:
- 20% of staff said their school was well-funded
- 61% of staff said their school isn’t well funded, which rose to 66% amongst SENDcos
- 36% of staff said they feel that they have enough resources to do their job
- 68% of staff disagreed that their workload was manageable
- 18% of staff agreed that their workload was manageable (14% were neutral)
- 27% of teachers felt supported at work
- 58% of staff agree they feel confident performing their role
- 49% of staff said their school had reduced marking to help reduce workload
- 62% of teachers disagreed that they have a voice in how things go at their school
- 12% of senior leaders disagreed that they have a voice in how things go at their school
- 53% of teachers disagree that there are opportunities for them to develop in their role (56% of Teaching Assistants, 46% of Middle Leaders, 25% of Senior Leaders)
- 71% of staff agree that staff have good relationships with the students
- 47% of staff agree that they are proud to work at their school
Drivers of Workplace Well-being
The relationship between work and well-being is complex, and to improve and sustain a high level of staff well-being, we have to understand the drivers that underpin this area. What Works Well-being (an independent body for well-being evidence, policy and practice) has released, in partnership with the DFE, a guide to support ‘Improving staff well-being in schools and colleges.’ They have identified 5 key drivers of workplace well-being. These include health, relationships, security, purpose and environment.
Staff need to feel they have a purpose in their role and feel valued when completing it. They must also feel a sense of belonging and feel part of the shared organisational vision.
Do staff in your setting have clear goals and are encouraged by their line manager?
Are they allowed to influence decisions, and do their skills match their role?
Do they have the opportunity to develop, and is there the opportunity to progress in their career?
As a school or college leader, have you implemented a marking policy to reduce workload and streamline the process?
Do you share your CPD calendar with staff and build it around their professional goals and school priorities?
How does the appraisal process support staff development and their sense of purpose?
It has been identified that staff feel a greater sense of belonging and are happier in their setting when they feel there are clear lines of communication, respect and support. These factors are from direct line managers, colleagues, and senior leaders.
Have you surveyed staff to see how many of them feel lonely or isolated?
Is your staff room welcoming and encourages staff to socialise?
Are staff given the opportunity to socialise outside of work?
Can staff approach leaders with concerns about their mental health and well-being?
We must consider the physical and organisational environment when considering the term environment. Leaders need to ensure that both physical and organisational environments are fully functioning for staff to be able to do their jobs effectively. Who hasn’t had that moment when the blinds do not block out the sun so none of your students can see what is on the interactive whiteboard or there are last-minute changes to the school day? These issues can cause high-stress levels and prevent someone from doing their job to the normally high standard.
Is there an efficient way of reporting issues with the building and/or technology? Are these matters rectified quickly?
Do staff have the resources required to complete their job?
Do staff have the opportunity to complete their PPA at home?
Do staff have the opportunity for flexible working?
Does all CPD happen after school, or is there a chance to complete training during the school day?
Are policies clear and easy to follow?
Staff need to feel secure that they will be heard and protected when working in any setting. According to What Works Well-being, ‘Equality and diversity are important, especially where a member of staff has protected characteristics that they feel make them vulnerable to discrimination’
Has the Equality and Diversity Policy been shared with staff? Has the Whistleblowing policy been shared with staff?
Have staff ever suffered any type of bullying? If yes, how was this dealt with and recorded? How were they supported following an incident?
Do staff feel confident to report any concerns?
We also need to think about financial security, which can once again be applied to the appraisal process.
Do staff feel confident they will move up the pay scale if required?
Do staff understand what they must do to achieve the Upper Pay Spine?
Excessive workload can be one of the main causes of stress in schools and colleges. There can also be an expectation for staff to work long hours, resulting in a lack of recovery time. How can we support staff to ensure they have a good work/life balance?
Is the school calendar planned with staff wellbeing in mind? Ensuring you avoid hotspots or too many deadlines in one week.
Do staff have proper breaks and time to recover within the school day, including lunchtime? If staff do break time duties, have you ensured it is planned around their school day so that they do get a break in addition to lunchtime?
Are staff given the opportunity to exercise – are there after school sports/activities sessions put on by the school?
Does the school provide tea, coffee and milk?
Are staff aware of both formal and informal support when considering mental health and wellbeing?
Are emails only sent within reasonable working hours? This can give staff time to switch off and not worry about when emails may get sent.
Top Tips for Staff Well-being
- Sign your school up to the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter
- Where possible, introduce the idea of flexible working or completing PPA at home
- Have clear policies which are embedded into the school vision and not seen as add-ons.
- Ensure staff are supported when dealing with behaviour – do you have a clear behaviour policy? Is it adhered to?
- Set up a well-being group – you can use this to plan social activities and ensure staff voice is included.
- Review your marking policy and make sure it supports reducing staff workload
- Ensure staff meetings are purposeful and streamlined. Could that meeting have been an email?
- Give staff a voice – create a sense of community by ensuring your staff are heard.
- Avoid too many deadlines in short spaces of time
- Provide refreshments for after-school events such as Parents’ Evenings
- Ensure staff have the resources required to do the job
- If there are any issues with the building/facilities, ensure they are fixed as quickly as possible.
- Provide admin support to help reduce staff workload.
Most importantly, ensure that staff well-being is part of the school’s culture and not seen as a tick-box activity.
Prioritise Staff Well-being
Discover how Juniper Education can make staff well-being a priority!
Join our webinars and get the tools and training you need to support your staff.
Supporting Staff Well-being webinars:
30/01/24 - 3-4 pm
25/03/24 - 2-3 pm
02/05/24 - 4-5 pm
13/06/24 - 4-5 pm