Rachel Naylor is Vice Principal at Little Lever School. Here, she shares the school’s unique approach to looking after the wellbeing of their staff.
One of the priorities identified for 2017/18 from our annual review with governors and pupils was staff wellbeing. It was felt the staff could not do anymore, timewise, than they were already doing and research by YouGov showed that 75% of 1,250 school and college staff and leaders surveyed had experienced “psychological, physical or behavioural symptoms because of work”- so we had to do something. Staff absenteeism was very high and we spent £90,000 on supply staff in 2016/17.
We used an external company to conduct a wellbeing survey and had face-to-face interviews with staff. The outcomes shaped the strategies we have employed this year.
We appreciated that staff in the school go above and beyond for the young people to ensure they achieve things they never thought they could, and as a result, we needed to reward them.
Our most successful strategy has seen all adults employed by the Academy given three, two-hour credits that they could ‘cash in’. This means they can come in at morning break, leave at lunchtime, or have time off in the middle of the day- whatever meets their needs. Every member of staff has been encouraged to use these credits and for SLT to take the lead. Some examples of how staff used the credits include:
- To attend their child’s nativity or sports day
- To leave early for a weekend away or have a lie in after a weekend away
- To do some chores at home
- To catch up on some school work but in the comfort of their own home
- Christmas shopping
The non-negotiables with staff are they have to give us at least two weeks’ notice; can not be teaching year 10 or 11; cannot aggregate the credits; and it is at the discretion of the Headteacher. However, so far this year we have not had to decline any requests. We have also found that those difficult conversations about time off- for example to see your child’s first nativity- do not need to happen now.
We have 108 staff in school and so far 59 staff have used their credits, which equates to 193 hours of leave. The impact on staff absence has been immense. Last year’s £90,000 on supply has been reduced to £25,000 so far this year.
And yes, staff still get stressed- but now we can say, “Why don’t you take your wellbeing credit?”
Do you think ‘wellbeing credits’ could help to create a thriving culture and happy teachers in your school? What ways do you have of ensuring your staff are well looked after? https://t.co/lr56vQ4iqU
— Whole Education (@WholeEducation) May 1, 2018
Whole Education is investigating a number of ways that we can support schools to look after the wellbeing of their staff. We work with Place2Be to offer schools the programme ‘Mental Health Champions: Teachers’, which supports teachers to manage their own wellbeing and that of their young people. We also recently launched our programme Strategic HR in MATs, which helps groups of schools think about how they make themselves brilliant places to work. To learn more visit the dedicated website.