With the new OFSTED inspection framework clearly stating that staff welfare is important and the governor handbook only recommending a governor for wellbeing, there is a fundamental missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle – our senior leaders.
Senior leaders, in most cases, are the people who set the tone for the school from the culture, ethos and priorities to the values and relationships within it. Today’s leaders show an astounding amount of energy to succeed and excel in their role.
Yet there is little evidence that policy and government priorities are focused on the importance of their role, and more importantly, how they are looked after.
In the latest Teacher Wellbeing Index published on the 11th Nov 2019 by the Education Support Partnership, the data on teacher wellbeing is worrying.
72% of educational professionals described themselves as stressed. This figure was 84% for senior leaders. Indeed, according to the teacher wellbeing index, 66% of senior leaders have considered leaving the profession due to health and wellbeing issues, with volume of work and not feeling valued cited as the two main reasons.
What is clear, therefore, is that there is a need for policy and guidance to reflect the importance of the leadership role and the mental wellbeing of leaders.
Having spoken to many leaders over the months, the data reflects this narrative.
‘The job is a stressful job, that won’t change.’ In the absence of wider policy, leaders are taking ownership and personal responsibility for their own wellbeing to ensure they can continue to educate and develop the next generation.
This approach is indeed a very positive step. Government policy and a culture change aren’t the only ways to improve wellbeing. But who has their back as a senior leader? Who is checking whether they are ok? And who, more importantly is valuing them?
With my governor hat on, I ensure that senior leaders are valued and respected through our interactions. I ensure they are provided good pay, have a strong level of performance management and sometimes just a sit down for a cuppa and a chat.
But our role as governors goes beyond this. We need to ensure that we provide that ‘critical friend’ role for them, delicately dancing between both challenge and relationship whilst maintaining respect and an understanding of the importance of wellbeing.
Ultimately whether we are a governor, senior leader, teacher or member of support staff, having a ‘good day at work’ is essential for our wellbeing.
The phrase ‘good day at work’ was coined by an organisation called Roberson Cooper, describing the language of wellbeing in terms of connection and being energised by the purpose of the work we do. Their i-resilience report is an excellent first step to finding out what senior leaders’ strengths and challenges are to their workplace resilience and is a baseline assessment for taking personal responsibility for your wellbeing.
This, along with other strategic, operational and easy to implement ideas for developing a ‘good day at work’ for the senior leadership team, is available in our latest webinar.
Click on the link below to book on the webinar or to find out how you can access our complete library through our Mental Health Topic membership.