Breaking Point or Breaking Free: What Can Be Done About Wellbeing for School Staff?

If you work in education, it'll come as no shock that Education Support's latest Teacher Wellbeing Index 2023 paints yet another depressing picture of the mental health and wellbeing of all school staff.

 The full report contains all the findings, but these stood out to us:

🟣 78% of all school staff feel stressed, rising to 89% for senior leaders and a huge 95% for headteachers.

🟣 55% of staff feel their institution's organisation culture has a negative effect on wellbeing.

🟣 46% of staff say their organisations do not support employees well who have mental health and wellbeing problems.

I'm someone who's been in this exact position with these exact feelings about school leadership: constant stress, worry, sleepless nights, my heart thudding in my throat about what was coming next, the gnawing pain of a stress-induced stomach ulcer... And when the report was released, I spoke with my wonderful Honeyguide colleagues, Lottie and Tommy, and we recounted similar tails: spending more time at school than at home, being too exhausted in the holidays to function, nearly losing personal relationships...

But then the conversation came round to what can we actually do about this? 

There is a lot of talk about teacher wellbeing and workload, and many great people and educational companies are trying to help with this. In a sense, it's why we started Honeyguide - so that other leaders, particularly those new to the role, had that someone by their side guiding the way.

But often, conversations and ideas around improving wellbeing drift back to what we can't actually do anything about in the moment, the chief culprits being:

❌ Government policy

❌ Ofsted

❌ School budgets

❌ The lingering impact of Covid-19

❌ Underfunded (and sometimes shambolic) local services that are supposed to support schools and pupils

If you ever discuss the education sector with colleagues, you can see the statements coming a mile-off (and maybe you even make them yourselves...)

 "If Ofsted was abolished, there'd be less pressure on schools..."

"The impact of Covid has been huge and no-one can see it..."

"We need local authority SEND services to support our pupils but there aren't any!"


All of these are highly likely to be true but none of them can be changed right this second, and the likelihood is it will take years or even decades for the government-level change that's needed to support schools.

So what can we realistically do to support wellbeing in schools?

As much as I want to say, "Hey, Honeyguide can solve all of your problems, including the recruitment crisis, the attendance crisis and the staff workload and wellbeing crisis!", that would be a total lie. Because we can't. No single person or company can.

But what we can help with is the constant chipping away of solving day-to-day problems by providing resources that will save you time and some headspace. If you've visited us before and browsed our resource store, you'll know we're talking about budget-friendly packs and templates that relieve you of the time pressure of making it all yourself and thinking of all the questions and eventualities.

If you're contemplating the picture of mental health and wellbeing in your school, we've got a brilliant audit pack that does just this. No thinking about the questions you need to ask yourselves, just a fully prepared audit template with them all pre-populated. No wondering where to find the information - that's what the document checklist is for. And it contains full guidance and other templates to support the process.

See Honeyguide's Mental Health and Wellbeing Audit in our store...


What else can school leaders do to support wellbeing in schools?

Being a school leader is hard and if you're in a senior position, it can feel like the entire responsibility for everyone (including their actions) rests upon your shoulders. Sometimes the pace of school life is so frantic, it can be impossible to take a moment to reflect on the wellbeing and workload of anyone, let alone yourself.

But if you're reading this, it might be worth having a pause to think about the following.

💜 If a pupil came to us saying that they're having a difficult time with their emotions or mental health, what's our response? Is it a different response when staff do this?

💜 Are you a qualified health professional? No? Then signpost staff to support and encourage them to seek professional advice from a qualified health professional.

💜 Are you one of the 95% of heads who feel stressed? HeadsUp4HT are brilliant for coaching, support and advice.

💜 Education Support have a dedicated helpline too, available for any education staff member, past or present.

And, as always, we're here to support you in any way we can.

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