The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the issue of mental health and wellbeing at the forefront in schools. But it’s a subject that’s been of concern for some time, and will continue to be after the effects of the pandemic end. Teachers have an inherently stressful job, and school governors should understand their role in mitigating these aspects to create more positive working lives for teachers and deliver better outcomes for pupils. In less vague terms, why is it important that governors take an interest in their school’s policies and culture concerning staff wellbeing?
Governors have an ethical and moral duty to ensure the quality of working conditions at their school. This includes ensuring that adequate support and consideration is given to staff mental health and wellbeing. Governors that don’t ensure suitable support and guidance is in place are failing their staff and school, and perhaps, in extreme cases, exposing it to legal liability.
Teachers are role models for young people. As we become more educated and aware of the importance of wellbeing and mental health, particularly among the young, it’s critical that teachers model positive behaviours that affirm this. Directly and indirectly, staff wellbeing leads to pupil wellbeing.
Better outcomes in the classroom will come as a direct result of teachers who are happier and more motivated, free of at least some of the stresses of their work. Impactful wellbeing strategies help mitigate the difficult aspects of teaching and allow them to focus more of their energies toward educating their pupils.
As demonstrated in research from Mind, recruitment and retention are both positively impacted by wellbeing and mental health support. Teachers are more likely to join and stay at schools that continually demonstrate a commitment to their wellbeing and they are also less likely to suffer from stress-related illness. This means that taking action on staff wellbeing can not only save schools money in the longer term, but also minimise staff churn and upheaval.
In the coming months, and in conjunction with several partner organisations, we’ll be releasing various materials to support governors in tackling staff wellbeing. The resources will cover helping schools design effective wellbeing strategies and policies, developing positive school culture regarding mental health, and ensuring these approaches are maintained, reviewed and improved going forward.
Thanks to Education Support for their contributions to this article.