Well-being Initiatives Across The Trust
Before the drama of school closures hit in March and the strange world of social distancing and remote working emerged, we had been looking closely at the topic of well-being. Two months on, the topic is just as relevant, if not more so.
Early in the Spring Term, we asked each Head to share how their school was prioritising the well-being of staff and children. These initiatives identified some key areas of wellbeing which our schools are employing, although all are making well-being a key priority.
We hope the following interests and inspires!
Supporting children’s mental health:
- Trained Staff - a programme of ongoing training and qualifications to ensure that Mental Health First Aiders and Emotional Literacy Support Assistants are available to support children. Pastoral Leads and Welfare Assistants are also able to offer targeted support to families in need.
- Chat Time and Worry Boxes - identified children have a time-slot to chat with a member of SLT, or trained member of staff, to check their well-being. Children can also add their name to a Worry Box if they want to talk to an adult about something concerning them.
- Quiet Play / Chill-out Club - available at playtimes and lunchtimes
- Forest School - including sessions for all children and some for targeted support
- Therapy - a range of techniques including play therapy, sensory provision and a school therapy dog who is available during children’s reading sessions
- Staff welfare - including daily check-ins for vulnerable staff, half-termly whole team meets and open forums for any staff member with any issue as well as creating specific times for teacher/parent interaction to limit confrontation
- Well being staff meetings - such as pottery sessions and forest school campfires which focus on learning a new skill which can be enjoyed and used with children in future lessons
- Workload reviews - using questionnaires to create an active reduction of any superfluous workload to enable staff to regain their time outside school to use as they wish
- Cultivating a “well-being culture” - championing working together as a team, working smarter, supporting one another and creating a fair division of workload
- Designing policies around empowerment of and trust in staff - incorporating peer support, team-working, planning, marking and feedback, observations and monitoring
- Flexible working - including supporting staff who are parents to allow time off to watch their child at their own school performances; limited evening events, realistic expectation on evening event attendance, release time as needed, regular ‘go home early days’ and INSET days given back for staff to have at home
- No expectation of staff to lead morning, lunchtime or after school clubs
- Food provided for staff on Parents Evenings and INSET days
- Standing agenda item - well-being always included on each SLT’s agenda
- Regularly reviewed policies - to secure a good balance between staff well-being and the impact on pupil progress e.g. marking and feedback, regular staff breaks in the staffroom etc
- Ongoing training - including regular focus for INSET day’s such as identifying anxiety in children and how to put in place effective strategies
- Day to day operations - programmed time for meetings between teachers and TAs
- Mentoring - for all staff including NQTs after initial year completed
- Communications - no expectation to respond to emails during evenings, weekends, holidays or on non-contracted days
- Active feedback - managed in all meetings (such as staff, TA, office, MDMS, SLT) to discuss what’s working well, what isn't, improvements and solutions
- Annual Pantomime: staff and governance teams performing for pupils and parents
- Social events: including quizzes, wine clubs, chocolate Friday, bacon sandwich day etc which take place at the end of the week/term for all staff
- Staff room treats - taking the form of anonymous presents from ‘guardian angels’
Perhaps it is particularly important, especially following the emotional fallout of lockdown and returning to school, that we remember well-being. We will all need to think about mental health and be kind to one another, and continue to keep these ideas on everyone’s radars.
Chris Seaton, May 2020