Thamesview School Case Study– Supporting Staff’s Wellbeing Posted on 25 March 2021 by Natasha Godden, Kent-Teach in Schools For Kent-Teach, wellbeing is a top priority. With dedicated Wellbeing Advisors, we work closely with schools in and around Kent to help support them with staff wellbeing. As part of our ongoing commitment to wellbeing, we asked one of our valued Kent-Teach Customers, Thamesview School, to share their experience of establishing a Wellbeing Programme for their staff. Supporting Staff WellbeingThe effectiveness of supporting staff with their mental, physical, social, and financial wellbeing will be dependent on the level of staff engagement you achieve in your school. Whilst 100% engagement is unrealistic; you can increase whole school buy in through the establishment of a staff wellbeing group. The role of a staff wellbeing group is to encourage and normalise conversations with staff around wellbeing and mental health. They can create and lead on wellbeing initiatives, engage with staff and signpost available support.With the intention of evidencing the positive impact a Staff Wellbeing Group can have, we have explored the initiatives put into place by Thamesview School.Thamesview School Case Study - Synopsis Paul Ferguson, Assistant Headteacher at Thamesview Paul candidly admits that when he took on responsibility for staff wellbeing, the school had already established some great foundations. Many members of staff were long serving and Thamesview was an inclusive place to work. Paul and the entire Senior Leadership Team recognised that their staff were their most important asset. The intrinsic link between positive staff wellbeing and retention served as Paul’s biggest motivator when establishing his wellbeing group.They surveyed staff asking them to identify areas that were impacting negatively on their overall wellbeing and three key themes emerged:WorkloadCommunicationPhysical and mental healthPolicies and Procedures They created a Wellbeing Policy which acknowledged the duty of care Thamesview took towards their staff. They also looked for inspiration from other organisations and created an Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy and a Zero-Tolerance Policy which ensured all staff members were treated with respect. This covered contacts between school and parents both face to face, over the telephone and via email. Communication and WorkloadThey turned their attention to communication and workload. Staff were surveyed and the biggest issue that emerged for staff was the high volume of emails they received. Some felt obliged to respond to emails outside of their working hours and others enjoyed working flexibly but found the volume overwhelming. The difference in working styles meant that a blanket approach was not a viable option. The team instead looked to empower staff by introducing a whole school email disclaimer to manage response expectations. This empowered staff members to reply at a time that worked for them. They also focussed on reducing the volume of emails and introduced weekly bulletins designed to communicate key messages to staff in bulk. This saw a reduction in emails which 70% of staff reported as an improvement.Physical and Mental HealthThe Wellbeing Group established many initiatives. The below initiatives have proved extremely popular.‘Ears that Care’ Service – a service for staff members to talk to someone confidentially about their concerns. Mindfulness Colouring books placed in the staff room.Morning meditation classes before school, delivered by a staff member. Introduction of a ‘Quiet Room’ - A space dedicated to total silence for staff members wanting to experience a break with no interruptions.After school football matchesHigh Intensity Training sessions delivered by Sixth Formers as part of their sports project.Lunch and learn – 30-minute CPD sessions on topics voted by staff. In addition, Thamesview School extended their support services to include a School Counsellor, as well as offering Mental Health First Aid Training to a number of staff members. Mental Health First Aid Training supports individuals in gaining a deeper understanding of how mental health issues effect people. It also provides them a framework to start open conversations around Mental Health.All the initiatives introduced went through an evaluation process based on the level of staff engagement. Not all initiatives proved popular and the evaluation process was key to replacing less popular initiatives with alternate staff suggestions.Next StepsThamesview School have built a culture that prioritises staff wellbeing. Paul and his Wellbeing Group continuously evaluate how staff are feeling regarding their Mental, Physical, Financial and Social wellbeing. They are now looking to progress their Wellbeing Programme even further and are completing a Cantium PULSE workplace wellbeing survey to deliver key analytics that will shape their Wellbeing Action Plan this year. In addition, they are now working alongside Kent-Teach’s Wellbeing and Retention Advisors to apply for a Kent and Medway Workplace Wellbeing Award. You can find the full list of Wellbeing initiatives and ideas generated from Thamesview School by accessing the full Case Study.If you are interested in creating your own Wellbeing Champion Group speak to the Kent Teach Wellbeing Advisors for further top tips. You can also access our free Wellbeing Charter on our Wellbeing Schools Resources page to help get you started.