Find out how staff are doing at the moment
Send out a wellbeing questionnaire
This will help you get a sense of what’s working well, and what you need to put in place.
Your wellbeing questionnaire should cover areas such as whether staff:
- Feel stressed at work
- Feel adequately supported at work
- Are happy with their work-life balance
- Have trouble sleeping
- Have a reasonable amount of energy
- Feel equipped to manage their workload
- Are worried about issues beyond school, for example bills
As well as open questions so staff can put forward suggestions, use a scale of 1 to 5 so that you can quantify the data. This suggestion, as well as some of the question areas above, are included in the Education Support Partnership’s guide to looking after teacher wellbeing.
You can also use the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale for free by registering here.
Make sure that you share the survey with your SLT, as well as filling it out yourself. This will help you get a full picture of the wellbeing challenges facing all staff.
Set up a wellbeing and workload working group
Hardenhuish School in Wiltshire started a staff working group to improve the wellbeing of all staff across the school, with a particular focus on workload. In a nutshell, group members:
- Meet up once a term to have open conversations about wellbeing and workload
- Identify challenges from across the school
- Come up with effective solutions based on best practice
A member of the senior leadership team (SLT) runs the group – meeting outcomes are discussed at senior leadership level and the next steps are then communicated at the next working group meeting.
Feed your findings into your action plan
Prioritise next steps (for example by importance and achievability) identified through your wellbeing questionnaires/working group.
This will help you focus your wellbeing action plan on where support is actually needed, and make sure you're not wasting time or money.
Areas of focus will of course vary depending on each school, but may typically include:
Use the teachers' standards to help decide what your school’s expectations for teachers should be. Discuss what teachers should reasonably be expected to do beyond their timetabled hours or directed time.
This will help you evaluate whether your school’s existing systems and processes are reasonable. For example, if the frequency of assessments in your current internal assessment system is causing an unreasonable amount of work, you may decide to change it.
Take a look at our case studies of how schools have cut down on marking workload and internal meetings to reduce the burden on their staff.
Consider whether your current communication policies and procedures are adding to staff stress and workload.
Needs will vary by school, and so will solutions. For example, staff may benefit from:
- Fewer emails, as a constantly full inbox is overwhelming, or
- Sending information in emails instead of attending some meetings, to save time
Also consider communication with parents. A policy of not responding to questions in the evenings or an out-of-hours setting on staff emails may help improve work-life balance.
Planning and resources
If teachers are creating lesson plans from scratch, consider ways to share plans and other resources between staff, or whether you can buy into schemes of work.
Also think about your planning expectations, and whether these could be adapted – for example, not requiring detailed short term plans for each lesson.
Additional roles and responsibilities
These can also impact on a staff member’s wellbeing. For example, staff with responsibility for managing safeguarding may benefit from the support of a professional supervisor or regular meetings where they can discuss particular challenges.
Download our template action plan
It includes a couple of example objectives and actions, but make sure that your own plan is based on the needs of your staff.
Consider cost-effective solutions
Wellbeing and mental health solutions don't have to be a drain on the budget. An effective action plan can actually save your school money by helping you to reduce associated staff absence and recruitment costs.
Depending on your needs, low-budget actions may include:
- Peer mentoring, to help create a supportive culture
- Reviewing your school policies with a wellbeing focus, to make sure that your procedures aren't causing undue stress
- Signposting staff to professional support that your school can't provide
- Offering flexible working opportunities
You could also encourage staff to set up groups for specific issues that only affect certain groups of staff. This might involve people of colour, parents, or staff members experiencing menopause, for example. Given the specific and often sensitive nature of these issues, your SLT may wish to simply support these efforts rather than directly arrange them. For example, allow time and a space to meet.
Use individual wellness action plans
As well as a whole-school approach to improving mental health and wellbeing, you can also help your staff manage their wellness at work by giving them their own wellbeing action plan. See our guide on how to use individual action plans for more support.
You can also download Mind’s wellness action plans for employees by registering for free.
Make sure you follow through
Share your action plan with staff, and commit to making the changes you have set out.
If you can't do something in your plan or it didn't produce the results you wanted, be honest about why this is, and what you will do instead. This will result in greater trust from staff than empty claims that you value wellbeing.
Use these resources to help develop a targeted and cost-effective wellbeing action plan.
Take a look at our articles on:
- How to run welfare checks for staff
- Developing peer-to-peer mentoring
- How to spot early signs of depression and anxiety
Education support is a charity focused on the wellbeing of teachers and education staff. They have a dedicated helpline and resources to support your staff, including:
- A staff wellbeing audit
- Tips on work-life balance for school leaders
- Reducing mental health stigma in your school
You may also find the following resources useful
- A guide to health, work and wellbeing from Acas
- Growing the health and wellbeing agenda at work and other wellbeing resources produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)