Staff wellbeing resource
This resource was created in February 2021 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the overwhelming response from schools requesting support strategies for staff wellbeing.
The document provides a range of ideas and resources from reputable sources. It has been designed for ease of access and includes hyperlinks throughout to direct you to useful websites, videos and documents.
We hope that you will find the information useful and encourage you to share it with anyone who you feel would benefit from it.
An introduction to wellbeing
Wellbeing is described as the balance point between your perceived level of resources and the challenges you are facing. Stable wellbeing is achieved when individuals have enough resources to meet the challenges they encounter.
Why are we concerned about wellbeing?
There is evidence to show that teaching is one of the most stressful professions as a result of many contributing factors. Staff in education have had to make significant changes to the way they work due to the pandemic. This resource explores different ways that staff can support themselves to maintain and improve their wellbeing. It also explores whole school strategies that could be implemented.
Benefits of promoting staff wellbeing in schools
- Positive outcomes for children
- Less absences from work relating to sickness
- Staff better equipped in dealing with stressful situations and have better coping strategies
- Staff feel valued, supported and invested in
Our mental health is linked to our wellbeing
- It changes across a spectrum from healthy to unwell
- It fluctuates on a daily basis and changes over time
- Learning coping strategies and accessing support is beneficial regardless of where you consider yourself to be along the spectrum
5 ways to wellbeing
Create a 5 ways to wellbeing plan by considering what you already do for each of the areas and if there are any others things your could include when considering your daily/weekly schedule. You may wish to include some of the ideas and resources that are introduced in this guidance
Connect - talk and listen, develop friendships
I already: meet with year group partner each morning
I could: meet with other members of the staff team
Next steps: initiate/attend virtual staff meetings
Keep learning - set goals, develop skills, try new things
I already: attend staff CPD sessions
I could: read a book on an area of interest
Next steps: implement ideas into practice
Be active - do what you can and enjoy what you do
I already: go on a walk at the weekend
I could: attend a weekly exercise class
Next steps: join weekly staff exercise session and research local/online classes and book on
Give - give time, your words or your presence
I already: support NQT's/RQTs
I could: support peers/become a frientor (a friend who's a mentor)
Next steps: join/initiate peer support / problem solving groups and buddy up with a colleague or frientor for support
Take notice - remember the things that make you happy
I already: listen to podcasts
I could: record daily gratitude
Next steps: buy a gratitude journal or notebook
Visit the NHS website for more information.
Wellbeing top tips: Teachers and support staff
Establish a routine
Set a time to start/finish work and try to avoid working outside these hours. Research shows that relaxation time before bed helps to improve quality of sleep.
Limit your news intake
Constant negative news can impact how we feel. Try and limit how often you check the news to avoid it having a negative affect on your mood.
Try to prioritise self-care
Include self-care in your plan for the week. Set aside time to complete an activity that helps you to relax or to try a new one.
Try to stay connected with friends and family. Identify your support network and help support each other through these difficult times. Talking with others can help to relieve stress.
Be kind to yourself
These are unprecedented times and a lot of things are out of our control. When setting goals, it is important that they are achievable. Try to forgive yourself if things do not go to plan.
Wellbeing top tips: leadership
Is staff wellbeing on your agenda?
There's never been a more important time to support school staff wellbeing. Here's 10 ideas to support yours:
- Have a mental health lead with responsibility for staff wellbeing
- Include staff wellbeing in your mental health policy
- Promote open about mental health in your school
- Offer supervision and encourage discussion groups
- Signpost staff to supportive services
- Look at simple ways to reduce workload
- Provide reflective spaces for staff at times of stress
- Set up a staff social group
- Start an annual staff wellbeing survey
- Put staff wellbeing on your next staff and governors' meeting agenda
Ten ways to support school staff wellbeing is free from the Anna Freud website.
Useful links for your school
Support service for headteachers and CEOs
Headrest offers a free daily wellbeing telephone support service for headteachers and CEOs. The service is available Monday - Thursday from 7pm - 8pm. You can also call free on 0800 862 0110 and leave a message. For more information view the Headrest website.
Other tips include:
- Random acts of kindness
- Compliment system
- Drop in sessions for staff
- Acknowledging birthdays and teacher appreciation week
- A designated quiet room for staff
Staff wellbeing in Staffordshire
Headteachers wellbeing day
All Saints Rangemore and Needwood schools in Burton-on-Trent organised a Headteacher Wellbeing day for all the headteachers in the John Taylor Multi Academy Trust supported by Healthcare at Home. The day included focusing on the stressors on their roles and created a strategic plan for the Trust to support their headteachers as well as an exploration of reducing stress, guilt, anxiety and included time for personal action planning. This day provided a chance for those in attendance to participate in discussion with others in the same role and explore areas of reflection and self-care. The wellbeing day was incredibly well received and those who attended benefitted from it.
CEDARS Short Stay
CEDARS Short Stay in Newcastle arranged for a wreath making kit to be sent to staff before Christmas. They have previously held a staff wellbeing day with food tasting and bauble decorating.
Wellbeing Wednesday and other ideas
Hob Hill CE/Methodist (VC) Primary School in Rugeley have been arranging different things for staff on most Wednesdays. This has involved food being put on for staff including bacon/sausage sandwiches, soup on the go and pancakes. They have a trained aerobics instructor within their team who has released videos for staff too. Other examples of support include trying to be as accommodating as possible for special occasions, e.g. going to a wedding or seeing their child in a performance. At the end of every term, staff receive little gift bags with items such as a candle, chocolates and a packet of sunflower seeds for a growing competition. At Christmas, SLT handwrote personal thank you cards to everyone too.
Other suggestions from schools in the county
- In one school, pastoral staff are being offered supervision due to the emotional demands of their role
- In one Multi Academy Trust, Headteachers are participating in coaching training with the aim of implementing this within their schools to support staff
The mentally healthy schools programme
A free website offering advice, practical resources and information to promote mental health including a Mental Health and Wellbeing Calendar.
Promoting staff wellbeing in schools
Information about teacher burnout and tips for improving staff wellbeing in your schools.
Department for education toolkit
The DfE has produced a toolkit to identify workload pressures in your setting. School workload reduction toolkit.
Problem solving groups
What is a problem solving group?
Problem Solving Groups (PSGs) are collaborative groups that help to support teachers both practically and emotionally. They use a clear process to enable each group member to share their skills and experience, while helping team members to solve problems that arise in the workplace. Groups can involve various members from the school community including teaching staff, support staff and senior leaders. They can be used to discuss many different problems, such as issues relating to additional learning needs and pupil behaviour.
How should they be set up?
Problem solving groups can occur as frequently as deemed necessary. This may be weekly, fortnightly or termly, but should be in response to staff need. The amount of time needed for problem solving groups depends on the model used.
Why use a problem solving group?
Research has found that these groups can help staff to feel less stressed and that the solutions found are often applicable to other aspects of the participant’s work. It has also been suggested that they can help to create a cohesive group identity within a team (Grahamslaw and Henson, 2015).
Solution circle: a group problem solving model
Time needed: max 30 minutes
People needed: 5-8
- Facilitator - keeps time
- Problem presenter - person with the problem
- Creative thinkers - people who think of possible solutions
- Note taker - keeps visual notes for all
Best for: finding multiple solutions for one specific problem
- Problem presenter talks uninterrupted about their problem
- Creative thinkers contribute their ideas for possible solutions. Problem presenter must not contribute
- Discussion led by problem presenter. Questions can be answered but the discussion must remain positive and around the solutions that could work.
- Decide on 3 actions to be taken in the next 1-3 days, with 1 in the next 24 hours
- Each person shares 1 word that describes the solutions circle experience and notes are shared with all.
Key things to remember:
- Each step is 6 minutes
- Do not be judgemental, this process is key for relationship building as well as finding solutions
- Remain positive
What is resilience?
Resilience is what gives people the strength to cope with stress and hardship. How we deal with hard times not only plays a significant role in the outcome of these events, but can also help to predict future mental health.
What does a resilient person look like?
- Thinks about themselves in a positive way
- Has a good support system
- Believes things will happen for them rather than to them
- Can make realistic plans and stick to them
- Has an internal locus of control
- Has good communication skills
- Can regulate their emotions
Greenfield (2015) suggests that teacher resilience is formed from a set of interactions between thoughts, actions, relationships and challenges. The model illustrates how teachers’ beliefs and relationships with other key individuals can act as a protective factor between the challenges they encounter and their beliefs. Beliefs are the core focus of the model and protected from challenges however, the lines are dotted to demonstrate how the factors interact with each other.
What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
What is the theory behind CBT?
CBT focuses on the idea that the way we think, feel and behave all interact with each other and that one area can influence the others. CBT aims to intervene at one of the three areas which may be causing you difficulties. This can change your perspective and approach to situations which can make a long term difference to your life.
- physical feeling interventions
- behavioural interventions
- thought interventions
Events that occur in our daily lives can trigger automatic thoughts. These thoughts can be symptomatic of deeper core beliefs. Core beliefs are central ideas that we hold about ourselves. There are many common unhelpful core beliefs such as “I am a failure.”
Event: A young person in your class has not met their targets.
Automatic negative thought: “My approach isn’t working."
This can morph to:
- My approach isn't working
- I did a bad job
- I shouldn't be here
- I'm a failure
This thought may trigger someone to change their behaviour, such as avoiding marking their books. In turn, this worry may cause someone to experience physical symptoms such as headaches. In CBT, we may choose to target the core belief. Can you identify one of your core beliefs?
Now we have identified the core belief, we can test it out to see how true this really is. See below how the previous example has been challenged and try to do the same for your own core belief. It is important to stick to the facts, rather than inputting thoughts or feelings such as “I must be a failure because I feel like a failure” “I think people don’t like me” etc.
Practical vs hypothetical worries
Ask yourself - is this a worry that I can do something about now?
Yes - practical worries
These are things that are affecting you now and that have a practical solution.
For example: I haven’t marked those books yet or I need to ask my boss for time off work.
These worries can often be solved or reduced by thinking of solutions we can control.
No - hypothetical worries
These are things that may affect you in the future and may not have any solution.
For example: What if my colleagues stop liking me? Or what if the car breaks down before work?
These worries are often things we cannot predict or change.
Things you can control
- Your sleep routine
- When you ask for help
- How you speak to yourself
- What you eat
- The boundaries you set
- Who you follow
Problem solving resource for practical worries
You may not have time to meet with your colleagues to discuss a problem, below is a model that can be used when you’re alone. This is really useful for the “practical worries” we described earlier. In the CBT model this links to your behaviour.
What is the problem?
What could I do? Try to think of lots of possible solutions, don’t limit yourself! Something that may seem like it won’t work can trigger another idea.
What could happen with each option?
Try to think each one through to address the potential pitfalls.
How did it go?
Which option did you choose? What could work differently or better in the future?
Dealing with hypothetical worries
Now you have classified your worries, it is important to give yourself time and space to address them. There may not be a practical solution to some worries, but this does not mean they aren’t valid. Below describes “worry time”, which is a method for addressing your thoughts.
Step 1 - plan your worry time
Set aside some time to allow yourself to worry about one specific thing that is concerning you, but you can’t do anything about.
For example, you may choose to set aside 20 minutes at 6pm.
It is important that this time is uninterrupted, to prevent this worry from cropping up again at other times.
Step 2 - write down your worries
Take time to write down the things that cross your mind when you are thinking about this worry.
If I don’t finish my marking, what will happen? What will this mean? Why is this so bad?
Writing these thoughts down can help to not only release them from your mind, but also to put them into perspective.
Step 3 - refocus on the moment
When your time to worry is over, ensure to do something that brings you back into the present.
Now is the time to complete a mindfulness, grounding or gratitude activity.
This enables you to let the worry go and move on with your day.
Grounding and calming techniques
Grounding and calming techniques are used to bring someone away from their worries and help them to be present in the moment. These techniques may be useful to use for just one minute during the day to help you to feel calmer and to address the physical feelings of worry.
- The 5-4-3-2-1 coping techniques
- 5 things you can see around you
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
- Think in categories
- Choose one or two broad categories, such as “musical instruments,” “ice cream flavours,” “mammals,” or football teams.” Take a minute to list as many things from each category as you can
- Paper folding
- Mindful colouring
- Recite something
- Think of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it to yourself or in your head. Focus on the shape of each word, how does it look in your head? How does it feel to say the letters?
Further help and support
Mind Infoline – 0300 123 3393
Mental Health Matters – 080001070160 (24/7 HELPLINE)
Education Support Helpline – 0800562561
Education Support Text service - 07909 341229
Education Support Email - firstname.lastname@example.org