Four years ago Achievement for All began work on a new holistic strategy to support education settings in England and Wales- we called it Achieving Wellbeing. We realised that exclusion rates were rising, the management of pupil behaviour was becoming a major stress factor for many teaching professionals: clear indicators that systemic changes in attitudes and understanding were required, and perhaps an alternative pathway to punitive and deterrent approaches such as “binary” or “zero tolerance” solutions needed to be embraced.
We began to draw from evidence-based studies that were shedding light on childhood trauma, the impact of multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the way many children express trauma in terms of behaviour.
We also acknowledged the critical importance of whole-school climate and culture, and the emotional wellbeing and mental health of the staffroom.
We realised that poor pupil behaviour was not the only source of stress felt by the teaching communities, and that addressing the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children could only happen if measures are built on the firmest of foundations in terms of whole school climate and ethos, coherency between policy and practice, and explicit support for staff wellbeing:
- Prioritising and actively promoting staff wellbeing- ‘A teacher’s working conditions are a child’s learning conditions’
- Building advanced practice in terms of social and emotional awareness and skills, and an ability to respond to respond appropriately to emotional and mental health difficulties- sympathy, empathy, kindness
- Advanced professional learning in terms of the neuroscience of wellbeing and child development
And then Covid-19 came upon us.
The anxieties and pressure caused by lockdown, isolation, shielding, “social bubbles”, fear of infection, bereavement, actioning remote learning, fractured relationships and lack of resources have been relentless; but these have been matched by the courage, determination, resilience and ingenuity of teaching professionals everywhere.
It is acknowledged by all in the profession that this is not a bottomless pit of wellbeing and goodwill, and that dealing with immediate crisis issues may obscure a clear route towards future possibilities.
Achieving Wellbeing can help: in the here and now, whilst dealing with the critical moments, and during the long rebuild towards a “new normal” that will inevitably follow.
Explore Achieving Wellbeing in more detail here:
DOWNLOAD A COPY OF PROF SONIA BLANDFORD’S BLOG “IMPROVING WELLBEING AND MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH KINDNESS AND MUTUALITY” HERE
Contact us for a conversation: https://afaeducation.org/get-in-touch/