Today is World Teachers’ Day. UNESCO is using today’s campaign to focus the limelight on the global teacher shortage. This is particularly saddening to hear when it is exacerbated by a decline in teachers’ working conditions and status across the sector.
At The Blue Coat School, we are fortunate that our recent recruitment drives have been successful and we are extremely proud of the dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable and experienced teachers we have here.
However, we do not take this for granted and the Senior Leadership Team has an active staff wellbeing strategy which seeks to hear the lived experiences of our staff and make positive changes to support a healthy working environment.
We also work with valuable partners on our staff wellbeing strategy. We have recently achieved a Nourish the Workplace award which is given to Schools who can provide evidence that they value staff wellbeing and have created an environment where it is a priority.
The process of becoming a Nourish School initiated two powerful reviews into workload and staff breaks which have had positive outcomes on teaching staff here at The Blue Coat School.
Staff voice is an integral part of The Blue Coat School’s wellbeing strategy. For example, many staff are involved in the termly calendar meetings to decide when events take place. Many staff are also involved in short and medium term planning meetings. The Headmaster and Senior Leadership Team promote an open-door policy and always encourage staff to share suggestions and ideas. However, there is also a designated member of staff responsible for being the staff liaison with the Senior Leadership Team regarding wellbeing.
Our staff also have access to a free 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme with Care First for a range of support services from financial advice to bereavement counselling.
In addition, we make great efforts to provide resources which make the teachers’ workplace a comfortable and enjoyable environment to be in. For example, we provide a dedicated staff room for time away from the classroom, as well as a staff dining room, but we also ensure that staff have quick access to drinks and snacks during the day.
If our teachers are hydrated, have had time to re-energize during a break and have support and strategies available to care for their mental and physical health, the pupils will benefit from thriving teachers who can be fully present and focused on the pupils’ learning and needs.
At The Blue Coat School, we are lucky enough to have a broad spectrum of teachers from those who have been here for 30 years, to teachers who have transitioned from senior to prep school education, to vibrant teachers who have recently qualified. One thing they all have in common is outstanding teacher practice.
So to celebrate our teachers, we asked them what inspired them to become a teacher and what advice they would give to the next generation of teachers.