Put staff first
If you want to achieve the best student outcomes and at the lowest cost!
Put staff first as we are in the midst of a 'teacher crisis'.
Missed recruitment targets, too many new teachers leaving in the first five years, over 100,000 qualified teachers choosing not to teach, increasing mental ill- health, higher costs and lower funding in real terms.
So as more staff leave the profession and fewer join, what can leaders in schools and Trusts do to attract and retain the best staff and make sure they aren’t the ones left behind?
The Virgin way
You might look outside teaching and whatever your personal view of Virgin and Richard Branson, the success of his businesses is beyond question. He talks about the three key groups of people in his business; staff, customers, and shareholders.
His formula is very simple. Happy staff mean happy customers, while unhappy staff ruin the experience for customers.For him it is all about staff development, giving them the skills and tools to do their job and that will allow them to leave, but to treat them so well that they don’t want to.
What Richard says...
“If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile. If you can put employees first, your customers second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff are happy. That is the philosophy that we are teaching.”
In schools, there are also three key groups of people; staff, students and stakeholders (for example, parents, school governing bodies, the Government and school inspectors). Will putting your staff first mean your stakeholders do well, your students do better, and your staff are happy?
What about students?
This doesn’t mean that students aren’t also important, and clearly a focus on the curriculum, teaching and learning, and school improvement are all necessary. But the evidence suggests that the fastest way to consistently deliver the best student outcomes is through staff and their wellbeing.
And the evidence?
A major study, carried out by Birbeck College, University of London, involving 24,100 staff, in 246 primary schools and 182 secondary schools, demonstrated that improving staff wellbeing led to a statistically significant increase in SATs results, in the percentage of students achieving 5+ GCSEs and in value added progress.
The researchers were excited, as their work suggested it was easier to deliver these improvements through staff wellbeing, than through a range of other more usual student focused interventions.
Even more proof
Other research from business and the Health Service has also shown a strong correlation between self- reported wellbeing and financial and health related outcomes. In hospitals, many of the research reports have demonstrated a clear link with mortality rates – so the lower the self-reported wellbeing of staff, the higher the infection rate and the more likely patients will die!
The impact is significant.
So what’s the plan?
Despite more schools and Trusts tackling this area, not enough of them have a clear plan of how best to go about it and often start in the wrong place. It is like building a house. You must lay down strong foundations if you want it to stand tall and survive everyday use.
An apple a day?
Providing free fruit or cakes in the staff room, organising staff events, giving resilience or mindfulness training, or a wellbeing day, where staff can focus on themselves or get some pampering is not going to deliver change. These deal with symptoms and not causes. There is nothing wrong with any of these as part of a coherent plan.
Yet starting here is like beginning construction on the first or second floor of the house. After a wellbeing day, or providing staff with resilience training, what has changed? Is the culture any different? Staff simply continue to face the same daily challenges and pressures.
Start with the foundations
Strong foundations cover two key areas.
- The behaviour of leaders and as a result how well staff feel they are treated, supported and valued; and
- The systems that support them.
The biggest impact on staff wellbeing comes from line managers. Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a leading UK expert on organisational wellbeing and President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, believes that too many line managers simply do not have the necessary social and soft skills to lead.
One day they are a teacher or support staff member, the next they are expected to lead a team, often with little training. They learn the hard way through trial and error and are sometimes simply unaware of the impact their behaviour has on others. The good news is this can all be learnt and developed.
Build your toolkit
Ensuring all leaders in your school are aware of those competencies that will improve staff wellbeing is a great place to start. Goldsmiths, University of London spent nearly five years developing a set of competencies that their research demonstrated prevented and reduced staff stress. They are different to those included in national qualifications and if you would like to find out more about these competencies and how you and your team can self-assess against them then visit the Acceleration Academy by clicking here >>>
Introducing the Acceleration Academy
Are you interested in:
- A fast track process that helps line managers put staff first and raises student outcomes?
- An evidence backed way to measure staff wellbeing and focus on those things that have the biggest impact in your school?
- Supporting line managers so they understand those behaviours and competencies that have been proven to reduce staff stress and improve their wellbeing and performance?
- Reducing costs and spending more of your stretched budget on the things that matter to you?
Answering yes means the Acceleration Academy is for you. It’s an on-line platform with wellbeing measurement and a growing resource base, designed to make it easier for schools and Trusts to tackle this important area.
You can find out more, register for a free account or invest in an affordable solution.