In short, by supporting individual staff members to find realistic, sustainable ways to choose better health for themselves – whatever their circumstances. Sometimes the prospect of healthy change can feel overwhelming, especially for those so busy they feel they are already drowning. As a health coach, I break the process down and help to make it feel possible, one step at a time. It is possible to feel better, even for those who can only spare a few minutes a day. Imagine the difference for staff who can get their heads far enough above water to really take a breath.
School staff were under a great deal of stress already. (As an experienced ex-teacher, I know this only too well.) And then the world went crazy! The basic facts will not be surprising to anyone in the education sector, and are clearly stated in the findings of the Ofsted report on Teacher well-being at work in schools and further education providers [i] (from pre-pandemic 2019):
“According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, teaching staff and education professionals report the highest rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety in Britain. […] Low levels of occupational well-being are in turn related to (self-reported) health issues.”
In response to the findings, Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO at charity Education Support Partnership, expressed concern, but not surprise: “This aligns with our own research where over three quarters of teachers experienced behavioural, psychological or physical symptoms due to their work”[ii] The Ofsted EIF (Education Inspection Framework), in force from September 2019, recognises this issue and brings new focus to the area of staff well-being [iii].
The effects of chronic stress on health are wide-ranging. It is linked with a vast range of long-term health problems. Examples include heart disease, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disease, and not least impairments in cognitive function and mental health. It can directly trigger the onset, and / or exacerbation of many diseases. Excessive ongoing stress impacts our ability to function in a variety of ways, and greatly increases the risk of ill health. This has a huge impact on schools, on staff, and on the experience of learners.
Teachers, and other school staff, have been placed on an entirely new front line over the course of the pandemic. This extraordinary situation has of course brought new challenges, and with them significantly increased pressure [iv]. There has never been a more critical time to invest in the welfare of those who are providing so much for our children.
Individual coaching for staff can offer effective, personalised support
Coaching is a client-led process that provides support tailored to their current situation and goals. For more on 1:1 coaching see here. In the context of schools, imagine the benefits for staff working close to (or beyond) their limits, of regular time with an expert in behaviour change and deep listening. Just having someone to talk to can be an enormous relief! But coaching is much more than just a listening ear. I work with my clients to make a realistic plan for sustainable changes to support their health and well-being. Together we identify, explore and harness their personal motivation to feel better.
In recognition of the extraordinary burden that teachers and support staff have borne throughout the pandemic, I would like to extend an offer on private 1:1 coaching that will be open to all school staff. I will hold the price of my current offer (just £15 for a 30-minute 1:1 online session!) until the end of 2021 for anyone who books their initial session before the end of the current school year. This represents a 55% pro-rata discount on my standard 1:1 coaching fee. If you would like to share this offer with staff in your school, this article contains all the relevant information. To take up the offer for yourself or your school please contact me (from a school email address) for a code. Any interested staff can then quote your code when contacting me to arrange a free 30-minute consultation to explore how coaching might work for them.
Whole staff training can provide shared understanding and health inspiration for everyone
By their nature, large group sessions are more education based than coaching. All would be designed for attendees to come away with some ideas of simple, practical, personally relevant steps to enhance their own well-being. The length of the session/s and size of the group would of course dictate the level of detail or discussion that we would be able to get into. They can be arranged as individual sessions, or as a series over a period of time to suit your setting.
Staff meeting or INSET sessions will be available in person (depending on location), or virtually, from late May 2021. The best arrangement will be determined by the practicalities of Covid19 safety requirements as they stand at the time.
I can provide a session based on your specific requirements, though some topic examples might include:
- Simple self-care – how to approach implementing self-care in your own life, that can start with as little as 5 minutes a day.
- The pillars of health – core concepts key to the basic pillars of health (stress management / sleep / social connection / movement / nutrition) and how they can work together to help you feel better.
- How to find the time for healthier choices in a crazy busy life – a strategy for implementing healthy change to maximise your chances of success.
- Building better habits – simple tips to help establish new habits, or perhaps ditch some old ones.
- How to make healthy change stick – harnessing your own personal motivation.
Example pricing for whole staff training:
- One-off 1 hour (staff meeting) session – from £175
- One-off 2.5 hour (half day INSET) session – from £275
I am also able to work with small groups of staff (generally 6-8 per session) if a more in-depth programme of support is appropriate. For example, a single group could meet two or three times per half term. A term of working in this way would be sufficient for participants to expect to see significant results if they are willing to commit to the process.
Healthier, happier staff can focus on doing what they do best.
Groups can be organised around a specific theme, perhaps identified by senior leaders, or developed together with the participants in order to address their particular priorities. This format would allow for more personalised support and more of a true client-directed coaching approach than is possible in large group sessions. Costings for group work would be calculated based on specific requirements.
Benefits for the children
From the perspective of pupils, staff who are healthier, happier, and more in tune with their own needs will be better able to do their jobs. They will also be in an excellent position to convey some of the knowledge gained through their own experiences to the children in their charge.
A further article is coming soon outlining some of the work that is possible in terms of developing content for delivery to pupils. A coaching approach can comprehensively support the development of children’s ability to “make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing”. Which is the core aim identified by the latest government guidance on Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing [v].
Direct support is also available to parents through a 2 hour ‘Healthy Families’ workshop. This can be included in a package or purchased as a stand-alone item.
If you would like to discuss how I can support well-being in your school, please reach out to arrange a free online or telephone consultation.
Many thanks to every one of you for continuing to do the incredible work you do.
Wishing you all the best of health!
References / further information:
Leadership and Management – Point 29 includes a reference to leaders who “engage with their staff and are aware and take account of the main pressures on them.”
The TES reports that “inspectors will be noting if staff consistently report high levels of support for wellbeing.” https://www.tes.com/for-schools/blog/article/ofsted-and-staff-wellbeing