Smart Clinic
Education staff wellbeing charter

Implementing the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter

The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter is an initiative pioneered by the Department for Education to promote the mental health and wellbeing of all staff who work in the education setting.

The charter began its journey prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been designed in collaboration with many different representatives across the education sector, including charities, unions and schools themselves.

Significantly, Ofsted have also made significant pledges within the charter to demonstrate their commitments towards enhancing the wellbeing of staff.

At the bottom of this post we have included many of the significant documents relating to the charter, including the charter itself and some posters that you can display around the school.

Rather than discussing at length what the charter details, this article is going to give you some practical tips on what is involved in signing up to the charter by reviewing the organisational commitments, and reflecting on what the Smart Clinic can do to help with these.

The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter – Organisational Commitments

Commitment 1: Prioritise staff mental health

What this means:

Tackling mental health stigma by encouraging staff to be open and understanding in their culture is important. Mental health should be given the same (or more) consideration than physical health, and therefore schools need to understand and control the risks of work-related mental health issues. This is particularly prevalent for roles that involve significant emotional involvement.

How we can help:

Working with education specialists such as the Smart Clinic is critical, because companies like us will already have an inherent understanding of what the mental and emotional risks are within the education sector. We can also help to measure and manage those risks through assessment and therapy services. Prioritising staff mental health, ultimately means preventing mental health issues wherever possible, or offering therapy and support to those already suffering. This means engaging the support of a professional occupational health and wellbeing company with expertise in the education sector.

Commitment 2: Give staff the support they need to take responsibility for their own and other people’s wellbeing

What this means:

Empowering staff to take ownership of their own wellbeing, and looking out for others. This means providing the necessary resources, training and support for staff.

How we can help:

Staff can only take ownership of their own mental wellbeing if they have the resources and access to do so. As service such as the Smart Clinic, which gives staff direct access to online resources, therapy and guidance is fundamental for this.

Commitment 3: Give managers access to the tools and resources they need to support the wellbeing of those they line manage

What this means:

Working with line managers to ensure they have the tools, resources and training to provide support to their staff whenever they need it.

How we can help:

Much like commitment 2 of the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter, commitment 3 can only be accomplished if line managers have access to the necessary resources. Training such as the Smart Clinic’s Mental Health First Aid training, or resources such as the information packs available on the management client area included within the Smart Clinic packages will provide managers exactly the support they need to become the mental health champions they need to be.

Commitment 4: Establish a clear communications policy

What this means:

Having policies on acceptable working times to ensure staff aren’t expected to be working at unreasonable hours, whilst not deterring social communications.

How we can help:

This commitment focusses on management practices and policies. Although we can advise schools on ensuring their communications are appropriate and not detrimental to the staff, typically this commitment will rely on the management team to implement.

Commitment 5: Give staff a voice in decision-making

What this means:

Schools should proactively involve staff in decision making wherever possible. This may seek to draw upon the experience of those with mental health issues, or those with deep understandings of the matter in hand.

How we can help:

When making any decisions around operating practices, employment or management, particularly when related to the mental health of an individual or group of individuals, it is absolutely fundamental to seek the advice and input of an experienced occupational health company. The Smart Clinic can advise on reasonable adjustments for employees based on their mental health concerns, or provide management advice to schools who need support with implementing new procedures to improve the welfare of their workforce.

Commitment 6: Drive down unnecessary workload

What this means: Reducing unnecessary workloads wherever possible, which may include using additional resources or tools to help manage workloads more effectively.

How we can help:

Managing workloads, work/life balance and managing stress levels all form part of our day-to-day working lives. Whilst we can’t affect what work is being prescribed to schools, we can help them with how they manage it, and help line managers understand an individual’s tolerance levels to ensure they aren’t being overrun with unmanageable workloads.

Commitment 7: Champion flexible working and diversity

What this means: Protecting and enhancing employee wellbeing by promoting a flexible approach towards work wherever possible. This includes issues of diversity.

How we can help:

For many organisations it can be a minefield, trying to offer reasonable adjustments and accommodations, determining what factors are covered by the Equality Act, and what adjustments would actually help an employee. This is exactly what occupational health specialists such as Smart Clinic are trained in, and will provide you usable, specific reports advising on what you are able to do within your own operational constraints (simply suggesting to work from home indefinitely is clearly neither reasonable, nor a long-term solution for example).

Commitment 8: Create a good behaviour culture

What this means: Encouraging good behaviour through rewards, sanctions, policies and good management.

How we can help:

We may not be able to prevent poor student behaviour. However we can coach staff to be deal with the issues professionally, and be resilient enough to not let it affect them. Our therapy sessions allow staff to offload and debrief after difficult situations, so that they can reflect on the situation and continue to deliver high standers.

Commitment 9: Support staff to progress in their careers

What this means: Supporting staff with progressing their professional development whilst not allowing it to overload them with work.

How we can help:

Whilst we aren’t involved in a member of staff’s professional development, we can help them to remain productive, motivated and successful at work, whilst minimising their volumes of absence or impact of health issues on their work. This in turn will help them to become successful in their careers.

Commitment 10: Include a sub-strategy for protecting leader wellbeing and mental health

What this means:

Ensuring that leaders within your school have access to mental health support services such as counselling.

How we can help:

We have packages providing your workforce, including your leadership team, with comprehensive health and wellbeing support including counselling, stress coaching, anxiety management, virtual GP, employee assistance help and physiotherapy, to name a few.

Commitment 11: Hold ourselves accountable, including by measuring staff wellbeing

What this means:

Implementing tools to measure the wellbeing of staff using recognised tools, and working to improve any areas of concern wherever possible.

How we can help:

At the Smart Clinic we can produce full employee wellbeing measurement tools, including recognised and approved clinical scales, to identify the overall general mental wellbeing of your workforce and issue any areas for improvement. Additionally, implementing the Smart Clinic service will help to see a general rise in morale and wellbeing throughout the year, ensuring that you see improved results when you organise a follow up measurement.