• Workplace Health & Wellbeing

How school leaders can support teacher wellbeing

Posted: 26/04/2022
As the education sector has high work demands, it is essential to support teacher wellbeing to motivate and retain staff, cultivate a healthy school environment and ultimately improve student performance. 
How school leaders can support teacher wellbeing

Teachers have a very challenging and demanding job. They have to juggle multiple responsibilities, look after their students, and support the pupils' health, wellbeing and performance. Although a teacher's job can be highly satisfying and rewarding, it can also be mentally and physically draining. 

The last few years have been even more challenging for teachers, as they had to adapt to working differently due to the pandemic. They needed to navigate through significant changes and adjust their teaching ways to adapt to remote and hybrid environments. Teachers also worked longer hours (an average of 52 hours per week) and experienced higher stress levels compared to pre-pandemic times. 

RAND reports that nearly half of the public school teachers who deliberately stopped teaching in public schools after March 2020 left due to COVID-19. Stress was nearly twice as common as low income as a reason for teachers leaving public school teaching. In the UK, 52% of teachers reported poorer mental health and wellbeing due to the pandemic.

If these trends continue, there will be a higher attrition rate amongst teachers due to stress, burnout and poor morale. School leaders, therefore have the responsibility to support teacher wellbeing to prevent burnout, reduce staff attrition and in turn, improve pupil outcomes. 

Why school leaders should support teacher wellbeing

Now that teaching staff are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever, schools should support them in any way possible. Improved teacher wellbeing is beneficial for all, including teachers themselves, students and the school overall. Here are some of the many reasons why:

  • Reduced short-term and long-term absences due to ill health and stress

  • Increased engagement and productivity

  • Staff retention due to improved morale and job satisfaction

  • Positive impact on students' academic performance and wellbeing

  • Teachers getting the mental and emotional support they need

Apart from these benefits, it is vital to support teacher wellbeing, as some studies have found that teacher wellbeing and student performance are intrinsically linked. The more positive the teacher's wellbeing is, the better students perform. It has been found that teachers that are more stressed out exhibit less effective teaching strategies throughout the school year, affecting the way they give clear instructions, manage the classrooms, and create a safe and engaging environment for their students. Hence, when teachers are burned out, their students' performance also deteriorates.

How school leaders can support teacher wellbeing

As leaders, it is important to ensure that you look after your staff, so they can perform better and inspire their students. Although the approach may vary depending on each teacher's issues and concerns, here are some ideas on how you can support teacher wellbeing:

1. Encourage open communication

Education Support's research found that only 10% of education professionals turned to their line manager, senior leader or senior staff member for support. Most of them feel more comfortable reaching out to their family and friends, and this strongly shows that teachers are still reluctant to open up to their employers about their work concerns and problems. 

What this means for school leaders is that they need to better inform teachers about the support and tools school staff can access whenever they need them. The best way to do this is by reaching out and encouraging the staff to open up about their work situation and ask which areas they would need support with. It's important to really take the time to listen to their concerns and exchange ideas on how the situation can be improved. A more collaborative conversation would allow your staff to become more open, which can then help build trust and relationships.

2. Encourage collaboration

Along with open communication, collaboration is key to helping relieve pressure off of teachers. Many teachers feel that they have very limited influence on school policy. Involving teachers and getting their input when developing new school policies would help reduce stress, as these school changes can be tailored and considerate of the teachers' needs, flexibility and schedule. 

It is also good to promote collaboration between teachers, as they have a better understanding of each other's situation. Working with other people in the same profession could help them open up views from a new perspective. Teachers should not be expected to work on their own to deal with their students. Collaborating with other professionals would help them feel that they are not alone in their experience. 

3. Provide support in managing student behaviour

A research by GOV.UK found that teachers are generally happy in their workplace, working with their colleagues, and building relationships with their students. However, despite these positive experiences, teachers feel that apart from the lack of work-life balance, they feel that they are not getting enough support from senior managers in managing student behaviour.

Teachers admit that poor behaviour amongst students is relatively high in UK schools. As a solution, school leaders should implement student behaviour policies to better manage the pupils' poor behaviour and create a positive school environment. In turn, a positive working environment can promote staff wellbeing and improve retention.  

4. Promote work-life balance 

As mentioned earlier, some teachers' wellbeing declined due to heavy workload. Not only do they work longer hours, but their work-life balance is also impacted. Some of the causes of the teachers' hefty workload include the following:

  • The volume of admin tasks and marking

  • Shortage of staff

  • Lack of support from external agencies (e.g. special educational needs and disabilities (SEND))

  • Misbehaviour of pupils

  • Changes to external examinations

  • Frequent changes to government policies

  • In same cases, lack of training

By understanding the root cause of their heavy workload, school leaders can better address the problem and provide teachers support where needed. 

5. Give teachers accessible mental health support

77% of education staff experienced symptoms of poor mental health due to work, but changing the school's environment, culture and policies can take time. One of the quickest solutions school leaders can opt for to enhance the wellbeing of their staff is offering mental health support. Resources and tools for mental health are now widely available, with some even tailored especially for teachers. To ensure that teachers get mental health support whenever they need it, it's best to provide them with private healthcare benefits that cover mental health. 

Mayfield Clinic's business healthcare is designed with educational institution's needs in mind, so it covers the vital healthcare services school staff would find beneficial, including mental health support.

Why choose Mayfield Clinic's business healthcare?

Why choose Mayfield Clinic's Business Healthcare

Mayfield Clinic is a world-class national private practice that provides a unique multi-disciplinary service. It is our mission to deliver safe, caring and high-quality healthcare services that are easily accessible to educational institutions. 

We make sure that your school will only invest in essential services your staff may need, so you can choose from the following low-cost membership schemes:

Essentials (£10 per month per employee)
  • 6 x 15-minute online GP appointments per annum

  • Members' rates on other in-clinic services

  • Dedicated account management

Pro (£15 per month per employee)
  • 6 x 15-minute online GP appointments per annum

  • 3 x 30-minute online Physiotherapy appointments per annum

  • Members' rates on other in-clinic services

  • Dedicated account management

Premium (£20 per month per employee)
  • 6 x 15-minute online GP appointments per annum

  • 3 x 30-minute online Physiotherapy appointments per annum

  • 3 online mental health appointments (1 x 45 initial appointment and 2 x 30-minute follow up appointments) per annum

  • Members' rates on other in-clinic services

  • Dedicated account management

Your staff will benefit from the following if you choose us as your healthcare partners:

  • Same-day appointments so your staff no longer need to wait to be seen by an expert

  • Personalised service so they can see the same GP everytime they book

  • Online appointments so your staff don't need to take any time off to visit a clinic

  • Appointments are booked online making it easy and quick to book

  • Appointments with mental health experts and physiotherapists can be made directly, without the need for a GP referral

  • Access to direct doctor interaction with no need to fill in e-consults or see another health professional before a GP

  • Staff are also eligible for reduced rates on a range of in-clinic services

Interested in Mayfield Clinic's health plans?

Click the button below to get started and get a quote for your school.

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