Leaders of wellbeing

Wellbeing is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, and, like all buzzwords, risks losing its meaning through overuse.

We're used, in education, to thinking about staff morale and wellbeing. We're used to putting in place schemes and incentives to maintain wellbeing: working from home for PPA time, fortnightly subsidised massages, midfulness workshops. You know the sort of thing. These are all great, and demonstrate to staff that, to a degree, you care about their wellbeing. But they only scratch the surface - the symptoms - and leave the causes unchecked.

What is wellbeing? Well, as human beings we're generally pretty good at flourishing and enjoying ourselves. We don't need a lot of help or instruction in order to be well. No, what we need, more often than not, is for those things which limit our wellbeing to be removed, or managed: things which limit our ability to have our voice heard and respected, things which impose exhausting workloads on us, things which require us to meet impossibly high targets. You know the sort of things: stress.

Stress is the cause of the lack of wellbeing in our schools today. Managing that stress better would be the best way to promote wellbeing. But this is not so straightforward a solution as buying in external services or making piecemeal changes to working patterns. 

This interesting article from last November raises the importance of wellbeing leaders in schools - people who can stand up for the wellbeing of staff and students in the SLT. But they point out:

It’s not just about getting chips off the canteen menu. The post-holder will be responsible for influencing the wider teaching and learning environment, and making sure healthy living is put into practice rather than just spoken about.

Addressing the 'wellbeing crisis' (see also, the retention crisis) is not a simple window-dressing or box-ticking exercise. It means making fundamental changes to a school's core ethos and culture - putting trust and respect at the heart rather than measurement and stress.