We don’t need to tell you how important it is for you as teachers to look after yourselves and the rest of your team. We can’t look after our pupils properly if we aren’t mindful of our own health and wellbeing.
We do however know that keeping morale high is no easy task.
In order to find the best way to approach whole team wellbeing, we picked the brains of a man in the know. Chris Dyson is headteacher and National Leader of Education in an outstanding National Support School. He not only leads an award-winning, outstanding school in Leeds, but he goes above and beyond to ensure that his staff at Parkland’s are happy and supported.
Chris’s leadership practice is renowned. At Parkland’s wellbeing is everything. When Chris first arrived at the school, staff morale was at rock bottom, there had been 150 exclusions and 5 heads in the past year. The school was deemed ‘inadequate’. The staff were crying out for empowerment. They needed to be trusted and believed in and needed to feel part of a team.
The school community now is a very different place. Chris’s passion and commitment to an aligned approach to education and wellbeing has left the whole school community singing off the same hymn sheet. Belief and drive have been instilled into the staff and children.
With that in mind, we asked Chris to share his top tips for improving staff morale and wellbeing. Here’s what he had to say:
1 – Reduce workload where possible – When I started at Parklands, I got rid of homework. I didn’t want people wasting their time on doing something that had very little impact, who wants to mark 100 pages on a Monday? I give my staff a full afternoon of PPA time, whether they’re part time or full time, plus assembly time is marking time. I also ensure that my staff have access to the best resources that will save them time. Sites like Pobble offer a wealth of free time saving resources.
2 – Rewarding with time – Time is such a valuable asset especially for teachers, but in this profession, we can’t pay overtime, no matter how much it’s deserved. Be creative and pay back in time. I offer ‘days in lieu’ so staff who do residential trips, staff who run our ‘pay as you feel café’, staff who return from school holidays a day early for ‘team building’, all get a day off in return.
3 – Positivity breeds positivity – Smiling and saying hello goes a long way. It’s one big cycle, if the children are happy, learning, progressing and behaving well, then the staff are happy and ready to inspire.
4 – Team work – We have regular social events, for team building. It’s essential that every member of staff feels like they belong to a team. This allows them to work effectively together and the team effort has helped to inspire pupils at the school.
5 – Little tokens – To maintain morale and wellbeing it’s important that the staff have a work/life balance. I ensure that all staff have the opportunity to attend their own children’s sports days, Christmas concerts or other little celebrations, they are allowed to do so with pay. It’s little tokens like this that get that extra 10% out of the tank. I also build in regular ‘working from home’ time for staff.
6 – Empower and value – I always aim to bring out the best in my staff. I want to empower them, to give them every opportunity to shine, to take risks with no fear of failure. I always make time for them, my door is always open. If staff feel valued they are more likely to go above and beyond.
7 – A community effort – I’m the headteacher of a community, not just a school. Every year, we run a whole school trip to the seaside. Everyone comes along. Kids, teachers, dinner ladies, cleaners…the lot! It’s important that every single member of that community feels valued.
Every member of the team feels valued and respected. Staff are happy and smiling which means the whole school community is happy and smiling. We retain our staff, no one wants to leave and sick days are genuine sick days.
Standards continue to rise, despite being the most deprived primary school in Leeds with 82% Pupil Premium Children, Parkland’s are in the top 5% of schools in the country in Reading and Writing, and the top 1% of schools in Maths.
How do you promote staff wellbeing in your school? Share your ideas with us on Twitter.
Follow Chris on Twitter too @ChrisDysonHT