Whose wellbeing is it anyway?


Last week at work a local car cleaning company came and set up at the front of school. For £13 you could have your car valeted inside and out whilst you worked. 

The idea behind this is simple - it's a time saver, a helping hand, one less thing on your to-do list. 

Plus it's so lovely leaving work and getting into a car that no longer resembles a skip of family related junk, that usually smells of something musty and unidentifiable, and in which you know there is always the chance of sitting in something which sticks to your clothes for the rest of the day. (Or is that just my car??)

Yes, there is the argument that I should have time to get my car cleaned. Or, (heaven forbid), I could do it myself. 

The thing is, I never get round to it - it's not top of my priority list. So being able to get it cleaned at work is a bonus, a treat, a little smug high five to myself as I drive to pick up my daughter safe in the knowledge that for 20 minutes I am sticky-smudge free.

Next week at work I'm getting my nails painted at 7.30am. You can get nails, eyebrows, eyelashes all 'done'. Again it's a time saver, one less thing to do, a treat. No it's not essential, but it's there if you want to make use of it, and many staff do. 

We have two members of staff who set up the staff wellbeing calendar each term - currently we have yoga, book club, 5-a-side footy, netball, badminton and a September Social lined up.

After half term comes Christmas Craft Club and our wellbeing advent calendar. Throughout the year we have organised weekend walks for staff, students and families, and three times a year we do #Smprise which is based on the fantastic #teacher5aday #5adaybuddybox‍.

We have thank you postcards for students to send to staff throughout the year in acknowledgement of support and help. We also have time in staff briefing to recognise and thank those members of staff who have supported others. 

We have developed with middle leaders a policy for #feedbacknotmarking, we aim to cut out unnecessary paperwork wherever possible. We aim to use meeting times developmentally and not for admin. We support an observation cycle where staff are integral in their own target setting and we have coaching available for all. We do not watch the clock - if you need to go home directly at the end of the day, then go. 

All of this helps, but it doesn't make us perfect nor does it solve the ever present question of work-life balance. 

None of the above makes me go for a run, or have a glass of wine with my feet up, or get out to meet up with friends - only I can do that. 

Through surveys with staff we are aware that there are always concerns and niggles. There are always suggestions to consider and views to take account of. It is an evolving process of supporting staff. 

Essentially though, school - or work, is not the determining factor in the wellbeing of an individual. 

The balance of work and life can only be achieved by the individual themselves.

My wellbeing is my responsibility. 

Time management, prioritising, organisation, seeking support, honest communication, all rely on the individual taking an active role.

So, whose wellbeing is it anyway?

Wellbeing doesn't (usually) happen by chance.

Life-work balance is something you can manage.

Taking control of decision making, acknowledging that you have choice, accepting that everyone has their limits, are all integral in finding balance.

Spinning all of the plates, all of the time is not possible - so which ones will you choose, what is important to you, what will you prioritise and who will help you when one (inevitably) drops?

Author Profile

Hannah Gregory

Hannah Gregory

Leader of teaching and learning at a NW secondary school.

6 stories


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