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Leading During A Crisis                     

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Recent statistics about the mental health of school staff are hard to hide from. In a survey done by the NASUWT in 2022, 91% of teachers said that their jobs had hurt their mental health. Also, the Tes Wellbeing Report 2022 showed that 67% of teachers find their workloads to be too much to handle, which has a big effect on keeping teachers on board.

At the moment, we are facing two crises: worries about the cost of living and a lack of people who want to become teachers. As a result, school staff are dealing with their own worries outside of school, and their workloads and pastoral duties are growing. As we keep going down the path of marketization and focus on meeting more and more difficult measures of success, it makes us and other schools, as well as the staff community, more competitive.

Teachers now say that COVID, poverty, and other problems in society have had an effect on students, and that their behaviour has become more difficult as a result. This, in turn, has an effect on morale. From what I’ve heard from other leaders, this is how things are in schools and local governments. However, these problems are not new to 2022 or even to the UK after the lockdown.

As the headteacher of a low-performing school, one of the first things I noticed was that staff, parents, and students all had low morale and self-esteem. With a low ranking in the league table, it became harder and harder for people at the school to trust and respect each other. When staff were unhappy, there was a lot of turnover in the SLT, and when parents and the wider community were unhappy, there were empty spots, which hurt our funding.

The secret is to have a celebration.

Even though the school took all the usual steps to change, many of these problems stayed. I only stopped to think about why I was only thinking about the problems and not celebrating the things that were going well when I was getting coaching. Then I realised there was a different way to go. I was burned out, and so were most of my staff. I decided to ask the governors for a specific budget for our well-being, and it worked right away.

This doesn’t have to mean making meaningless “wellness” gestures, but it does mean checking in with your staff to find ways to make their jobs easier. This can start with simple things, like asking if we need each meeting, and go as far as making sure everyone in the school community feels seen, heard, and valued. This can be done by having open-door policies or other ways for senior leaders and staff to give and get honest, constructive feedback and think about it.

It’s important to give school staff time to relax and let them know that we know it’s hard, that we appreciate them, and that they’re doing enough. “Thank you, I know you’ve had a hard day,” especially for staff who live alone, can go a long way.

The most important thing is to make sure that celebration is at the centre of everything you do. It’s easy to feel like you’re just going through the motions and hitting one goal after another if you don’t look back and see how hard you’ve worked to get there. Even with all the problems, these aren’t the only things that happen in our schools. Every day, great education is given because our teachers and staff go the extra mile to make every school great. Every day, there are so many things to learn from, relate to, and brag about. We shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to talk about the great things that are going on.

This focus on well-being also gave me a chance to think about how we as a community could work together to help each other. The community was split up, and if we could put it back together, we could see a big improvement in the health of everyone.


But most leaders know that we can only really lead well when we show others how to do it. That meant I had to make time to put my own health first. It can feel selfish, especially when other people are having a hard time, but it’s important. To help others, we need to help ourselves, and if we do what we tell our staff to do, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

I know that changes to well-being won’t be enough to solve the problems, and that action is limited by ever-tightening budgets. However, it’s still important to talk about mental health, well-being, and building communities, and to keep these things in mind when making decisions.

In my experience, putting the well-being of the school community first made us all happier, and the other measures of school success soon followed. Because of this, we are now one of the top 100 schools in the country. It also meant that the number of staff who showed up went from about 64% to 98%. This shows that investing in people’s health and happiness, which isn’t always a high priority when making budget and strategy decisions, can pay off in a big way.

Info source – Education Executive

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