The focus on wellbeing in schools has escalated in recent years as more evidence has surfaced regarding the teaching crisis and the impact the profession has on teachers’ health and wellbeing, in conjunction with the rise in mental health issues in young people. This comes alongside a societal shift in attitudes towards mental health and wellness - in today’s society we are more open when talking about mental health issues and there is more talk around health and wellbeing; this change in mindset has meant that schools are more open and supportive of this.
This surge towards caring about wellbeing is not just a cultural change that people have chosen to embrace personally, leading organisations have started to put an emphasis on wellbeing in their culture. This has become apparent in large and small businesses who emphasise wellbeing packages as perks, companies have also capitalised on this societal change through the creation of tools whose sole focus is to monitor and improve the wellbeing of staff. This stance has also been embraced within education, most recently with the recent changes to the Ofsted framework which sees focus moving away from exam results (which takes immense pressure off both students and teachers) as well as recent changes to the curriculum where more emphasis is being placed on PSHE as a subject for students.
In order to help emphasise the importance of wellbeing and to ensure that the wellbeing of your staff and students remains at the forefront of your school’s mind, wellbeing policies are a good way in which to achieve this. However, at present, such policies aren’t a DfE requirement, so it may not be wholly apparent as to what should be included in them. Here, we will discuss the benefits of implementing a wellbeing policy and a guideline of what should be included:
Why implement a wellbeing policy?
Despite it not currently being a DfE requirement to have a wellbeing policy in place, the benefits that come with having one suggest that schools should take this on-board alongside their behaviour, bullying and other compulsory policies that are in place at the school. Benefits include:
Shows stakeholders you hold wellbeing highly
Staff will want to work at your school and parents will feel comfortable in knowing that you are actively looking after their child’s wellbeing, and will feel confident with them attending your school.
Hold you accountable
Having a wellbeing policy in place reaffirms that you and your school will be following correct procedures regarding this matter and also provides staff and students with guidance on how they should act in certain situations.
Reminds staff that wellbeing is a core theme and focus
Having a policy that is referred to and revisited each academic year reminds staff that wellbeing is a core focus for the school and it remains at the forefront of their mind - this includes the wellbeing of their students, staff and themselves.
Raises awareness of wellbeing
Having a strong school focus on wellbeing will help maintain and improve the mental health of your staff and students. Your students’ mental health will be more readily supported by your staff, and your staff’s mental health will be properly supported by the school. Not only this, but by educating your staff on what proper wellbeing is, and signs of mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression, you’re providing them with the knowledge they need to better look after their own wellbeing, which will in turn benefit them, and their students.
Evidence for Ofsted
Demonstrates to Ofsted that you hold wellbeing highly which will be viewed favourably following on from their framework changes.
Appeal to teachers
Teacher wellbeing has been, and will continue to be, a concern for teachers. By having a wellbeing policy in place, it will help to communicate to them that their wellbeing will be looked after.
Appeal to families
For parents, the wellbeing and safety of their children is the most important thing so a wellbeing policy that documents how students will be looked after and the school’s approach to wellbeing will help them in feeling confident in their choice of school.
There are so many positives that the creation of a wellbeing policy can provide your school with - the most important of these being, raising the profile of wellbeing. The wellbeing of your staff and students is ultimately what affects how well your school performs and it is therefore in your best interest to make this a priority.
To help with the creation of your wellbeing policy, we’ve developed some guidelines on what it is you should include when either drafting or revisiting your wellbeing policy which you can download here.