Every school is different, and when it comes to supporting staff wellbeing what works will vary according to the unique environment of each setting. Here are ten questions that schools may wish to bear in mind when approaching staff wellbeing.
1. Is there a staff mental health lead or champion who is responsible for coordinating the school’s approach to staff mental wellbeing, and ensuring it remains on the agenda?
2. Is there a mental health policy that addresses the needs of staff? Is it regularly reviewed? How is the policy embedded and communicated so that all staff are aware of it?
3. How does the ethos of the school promote openness about mental wellbeing, and encourage staff to feel comfortable sharing concerns?
4. Are there opportunities for supervision to help staff feel confident they are taking the right decisions when supporting pupils experiencing complex issues (including safeguarding and mental health, for instance)?
5. Could supervision be offered outside of line management, for those who do not feel comfortable approaching their manager with concerns about their mental wellbeing? Do staff know how to access external sources of support?
6. Could measures to reduce workload or to limit hours spent working outside of the school day be trialed – for example, by reviewing marking policies and email protocols? Does the senior leadership team (SLT) lead by example when it comes to limiting emailing at evenings and weekends?
7. Is there a comfortable, dedicated physical space within the school where staff members can take time out if needed?
8. Are there opportunities for staff to participate in activities with colleagues that are not linked to their work (for example social events, exercise classes, or creative groups)?
9. Is it feasible to introduce a staff wellbeing survey, to help understand the key issues in your school, and the impact of any measures you are taking to support staff wellbeing?
10. Is the mental wellbeing of staff an agenda item at staff and governor meetings?
These 10 questions come from a report by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.