Schoolwell grew out of my concern that school staff are simply not getting enough support in looking after themselves. Great people are being lost to education at an alarming rate through stress and lack of support. The situation makes no sense; how can staff work effectively if they are not at their best? It’s obvious that if we want the best for our young people it is important to look after staff! Yet time and again this falls by the wayside in the hustle and bustle of school life, and all too often staff accept poor wellbeing as part of the job. It shouldn’t be.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that there was a lot of grass-roots activity going on around teacher wellbeing, mainly coordinated through social media. I could see that there was a lot of good work going on, both from movements like #teacher5aday, and from organisations such as Education Support Partnership, but it bothered me that there was very little support directed at other staff in schools, who are just as vulnerable to wellbeing issues. From the outset, I was determined that schoolwell would not just be for teachers, and the strapline “School Staff Wellbeing” was chosen with that aim very much in mind. I make it my business to seek out information which is relevant for all school staff. The site features a directory of wellbeing services, as well as regular blog posts and curated lists of online resources.

Schoolwell is a platform for wellbeing in schools and we publish a range of views from school staff, researchers, consultants and others who have something to contribute. We are not selling any system or training for wellbeing. This independence allows us to publish diverse voices which is a cornerstone of our approach. Probably the most important thing I have learnt is that wellbeing is not a one-size-fits-all deal. What is absolutely crucial is that staff have time to pursue whatever it is that contributes to their wellbeing, whether it’s sport, or a hobby, or just making time to get everything done without having an adverse impact on their personal lives. This has meant an increasing focus on the workload issue.

Since Schoolwell went on-line, issues of wellbeing and staff retention have jumped up the political agenda, with the inclusion of the workload question in the Ofsted staff questionnaire inspections last year being a pivotal point. Sadly, fear of Ofsted is a major factor in some issues around wellbeing but this is one time where it has worked to our advantage, in that Senior Leadership have begun to look at it seriously.

At Schoolwell we have been privileged to work in collaboration with other organisations, such as Education Support Partnership to help get the message out that support is available and that school staff are entitled to a good level of wellbeing. For me personally it has led to some amazing opportunities, including being on a panel at the Festival of Education last year, and presenting at conferences and TeachMeets. I look forward to continuing to get the wellbeing message out to all school staff. They do an amazing job and it doesn’t have to be at the cost of their health.

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