A school leader’s to-do list is the stuff of nightmares.
Recruitment, exams, Ofsted… if you throw a pandemic and remote learning into the mix, it’s starting to look like a challenge that even the most battle-hardened head couldn’t tackle.
Because of this, it’s no wonder that staff wellbeing sometimes gets overlooked. But if you embed wellbeing into a school culture from the bottom up, the to-do list might start to look a little more manageable.
Recruitment worries disappear if happy staff want to stay put. And if staff are healthy and performing to their maximum, you’ll start to find that other concerns start to drop off the list, too.
The advantages of focusing on teacher wellbeing
Here are some other benefits of creating a culture of positive wellbeing:
Increased levels of staff wellbeing are worth pursuing for their own sake. As a senior leader, you have a duty of care to your staff and, given your position of power, a moral responsibility for their wellbeing.
Show staff that you have a sincere and genuine interest in their wellbeing. Sometimes, all this takes is a smile and a “Good morning. How are you?”
We simply cannot overstate the impact that even some of our smallest gestures have.
If your staff are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, your pupils have a better chance of being all these things, too.
It hardly needs emphasising that teachers are the key influencers in their own classrooms, but if staff become battle-weary, wellbeing can start to slide along with self-esteem.
With happy staff, we can then start to better release the massive potential that is locked inside every pupil.
The school community benefits
A happy and healthy staff are much more likely to be productive and continue to return maximum yields on your investment in them year after year.
They are much more likely to go the extra mile in meeting deadlines early and willingly completing all the little tasks that add up to making an immeasurable difference to school communities.
And happiness is contagious. If your staff are happy, the chances are that parents will be happy after interacting with them, too.
And the benefits don’t stop with your existing school community. Happy staff are more likely to stay put, improving teacher retention, but in addition to that, your school's reputation as a place that looks after its staff will quickly get around by word of mouth. This means that the recruitment of excellent teachers will also become that little bit easier.
Parents want to send their children to a school whose staff are happy, and although Ofsted doesn’t have a way to measure this, the impact on so many things that it does measure will quickly become obvious for all to see.
Christian Pountain is head of RE and director of spirituality at a secondary school in Lancashire