How Greenfields Community Primary School Embedded a Positive Wellbeing Culture by Making All Staff Accountable Posted on 28 October 2021 by Nikita Woodley in Wellbeing An interview with Dan Andrews – Headteacher at Greenfields Community Primary school in Maidstone. The word ‘wellbeing’ has been floating around for a good number of years but what does it really mean? The Cambridge Dictionary defines wellbeing as the state of feeling healthy and happy; but, this is a very refined description. Wellbeing isn’t just about being happy, it’s about being transparent, open, and honest with the people that you work with. Everyone has a unique understanding of what wellbeing means to them. Therefore it is important for every workplace to offer a platform for staff voice. More recently, and particularly during lockdown, we have seen a bigger shift in employers prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Something which was previously seen as a bolt on, or fancy perks of the job, is now embedded as a culture within the workplace. We learned how a Headteacher in Kent has implemented strategies, practices, and policies to make small and valued changes over the past decade.Staff wellbeing in the school started in 2012. It has taken the school almost a decade to get to where they are now. Dan explains that wellbeing used to be a FAD but then slowly became part of everyday life within the school. It started as a single wellbeing day and developed into strategies rather than a bolt on. Day by day SLT give time to their staff; their ethos is that every member of staff must be responsible for their own wellbeing.1. Do you have a school staff wellbeing team?We are very transparent in our policy changes and ideas therefore we like to include all members of staff as opposed to having one group dedicated to wellbeing. The culture and ethos of our school is that we will support you with your wellbeing but ultimately you are responsible for your own wellbeing too. 2. How do you support your staff?We support staff in various ways but most importantly we focus huge efforts on continuous professional development. We like to see our staff do well with their career goals and this is evidenced as 50% of the teachers in our school were teaching assistants when they first joined us. The progression route within the school is extremely well supported.3. What do you believe is the most valuable tool you give your staff? We changed our marking policy a few years ago to give staff back ‘time’ which is so valuable. We found that with the lower years e.g., year 1 teachers were writing paragraphs for feedback which was far too long for pupils to read. We went back to the marking policy and stripped this back to not remove pressure but to apply the right kind of pressure whilst supporting staff. We introduced a verbal feedback policy where staff were required to feed back to pupils in lesson and that way the child gained feedback in real time, and this was well received. If we found that pupils were making big errors which stood out, teachers would look to provide written feedback in books. You can’t take the pressure out of the job as it’s a high-pressured sector, but you can put the right processes in place to make it the right kind of pressure.4. Heavy workload can be one of the biggest triggers for teacher stress, how do you support your staff with their workload?Our policy requires staff to deliver good lessons. They aren’t told how to teach but are given a baseline and then its up to them how to create their lessons. Staff are not required to give weekly plans or hand in lesson plans. If they are delivering high quality lessons, the plan can be on post-it notes or however they feel comfortable- this makes staff happy and results in rapid gains.5. Do you have any wellbeing initiatives for school staff?We have a mix of initiatives we use every week. I believe wellbeing should be more than just one day. Post lockdown we gave all members of staff a £20 voucher for Just Eat to show recognition from our governors and SLT. The staff absolutely loved this and were really touched by the appreciation gift. In the lead up to Christmas the school had a countdown to Christmas where staff had a prize every day. The staff all got involved in this and couldn’t wait to see what was on offer every day, we will be doing this for Christmas 2021. We have one wellbeing day per week where we offer treats like sausage rolls or cakes and we try to do a mix of physical activities with the staff including yoga, staff bowling and football matches between staff and pupils.We have learnt that schools don’t have to deliver one big wellbeing day as part of a tick list. It’s about the small and consistent changes they make over a long period of time which is most effective for staff. Sometimes it’s difficult to get a wellbeing team who are representative of all school staff so why not try Dan’s idea and get everyone involved in all decisions? This way every individual is accountable for their own wellbeing, and it leaves no room for people to hide.If you’d like to get some advice on where to start your school’s wellbeing journey, our Kent-Teach advisors can support you. You can book a call with one of us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.If you enjoyed this blog, why not read 'Thamesview School Case Study - Supporting Staff Wellbeing' next?