Following our recent conversation around succession planning with Angela Ogden and Michaela Jinks from St. Damian’s RC Science College, we also took time to discuss wellbeing initiatives that are taking place in the school. Wellbeing has become a topic which has rightfully moved up the agenda within education and the wider working world.
Angela, the school’s Director of Business Services, spoke of the culture that has been created, “St. Damian’s is a really special place to work, I’ve worked elsewhere and they don’t have the same feeling of ‘team’. Everyone is so supportive, the SLT, Governors, working together for one common purpose.”
A positive environment helps to boost morale
In her role as Exams & Community Development Manager, Michaela has been tasked with giving focus to general wellbeing – something which has clearly worked well for boosting morale. Michaela echoed Angela’s views on the culture, “everybody is supportive, we all look out for each other’s wellbeing, we’re all here for the same purpose. When I came to St. Damian’s, in the first week I felt like I’d come home.”
There are a number of initiatives in place at St. Damian’s which help to encourage wellbeing, mental and physical health benefits. Michaela is charged with creating and supporting this activity throughout the year. She went on to tell us about a few of the things that the school does, “we run free exercise classes after school, we have a car valeting service once a term and we also do ‘random acts of kindness’ - whether it be chocolate or message cards, the little things show we care, it boosts morale and staff know they are appreciated.”
Having an official ‘Wellbeing Champion’ can inspire
The school has recently updated its policy around having a voluntary position of ‘Wellbeing Champion’, this supports their Investors In People accreditation which currently sits at the impressive Gold standard. The ‘Wellbeing Champion’ is a job which sits alongside the volunteer’s day-to-day role at the school and is described as “an inspirational voice for our school community regarding employee health, wellbeing and work-life balance”.
In the school’s Employee Assistance Programme, there is access offered to occupational health, annual flu vaccinations, general health checks and signposts to other services. The school is fully prepared with a number of mental health first aiders on site too.
Next on the agenda for St. Damian’s is to set up “MAD” days. Coined as “Making A Difference” Days, staff will be allowed to take one day out of school to offer their support to charity, this opportunity clearly sits perfectly with the ethos and culture of the school.
Staff wellbeing should be on the same level as pupil wellbeing
Being based in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, the Manchester Arena bomb attack had a huge effect on the ‘community’ of the school, included in this are pupils, staff and parents. Michaela is tasked in her role with supporting the group that they refer to as their community, “we had the Manchester bombing which impacted on the school, we had students and staff that attended on the evening. We were able then to support when [students and staff] came back into school. Even years on now, we’re still supporting students and staff through that time.”
There is no doubt that wellbeing is important to a school environment, it touches teaching staff, support staff, parents and pupils alike and it can only be a positive that SBMs are now becoming more aware of this, not only for their staff but for themselves…