The four main ways we support staff wellbeing

Laura Fordham is part of the Bedford Academy senior management team, sharing how they prioritize staff well-being and use the DfE Education staff welfare charter and its principles to support this work.

After a busy 18 months, supporting staff well-being has never been more important and is a priority for Bedford Academy. We found that the paper complements existing welfare work that we did during the pandemic. I have worked closely with the principal, Chris Deller, and the management team to ensure that the welfare of the staff is taken into account in everything the academy does. This boils down to four main pillars of the work:

1. Give staff a voice in decision making

We have ensured that staff have a say in decisions that affect them and their well-being, giving them the opportunity to contribute to the conversations about how the school works.

Chris, the head of the school, sends out a short biweekly survey giving staff involvement in the school’s training and facilities. It also allows the leadership team to see how staff are feeling and respond to any changes in staff well-being.

All staff are invited to contribute ideas and opinions, in support of well-being, during staff consultations. They can also join our wellness committee, which is made up of staff from all departments. The committee aims to promote the wellbeing of all employees and meets quarterly to coordinate wellbeing weeks and inform staff of new initiatives via the monthly wellbeing newsletter. They also evaluate the impact of any interventions we have introduced to improve well-being, such as reducing emails after 6pm or on weekends, to ensure they are effective.

2. Reduce unnecessary workload

We know that workload has a huge impact on wellbeing, and we can’t tackle one without taking care of the other.

We have established a working group, which is made up of several staff members each quarter. The group includes people with a wide range of backgrounds, for example staff who have taught at at least one other school; staff who previously worked outside the teaching and support staff. They identify priorities to support staff in managing their workload using the DFE’s School Workload Reduction Toolkit. The group uses surveys to identify pain points where workload interventions are needed and to remove any unnecessary burdens. For example, we reduced the stress of lecture observations by using an effective feedback model. This has given way to a new approach, where feedback is practiced outside of the lesson before being implemented in teaching practice.

3. Integrate well-being into training and professional development

We consider the management of the fundamental line for the well-being of the staff. We shared a guide with the “10 Best Tips” for Line Managers to help better promote productivity and foster a supportive work environment. Plus a “Directory for Experienced Teachers” to direct staff to best practices. The academy has also launched a mentoring program, offering staff the opportunity to broaden their experience and learn more about their colleagues and the roles they hold. We have found that this can increase well-being and help staff achieve their career goals.

4. Provide staff with tools and resources to support wellbeing

We will offer awareness to staff this term, using charitable resources provided by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP). This will work on the notion that wellbeing begins with the individual. We believe schools will thrive if leaders provide staff with the support they need to take responsibility for their own well-being and that of others.

Find out more about the card and the benefits of using it here.

Download the charter.

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