Tips for team leaders and managers in education settings

 Created in partnership with Education Support

Introduction

This set of tips from our international panel of experts adapted for education staff are intended to help education setting leaders and managers to:

  • ensure whole-school wellbeing and resilience by delivering psychologically informed leadership
  • remember that self-care for leaders translates into care and leadership for everyone; the whole school/college
  • know that such leadership supports the Seven Nolan Principles for public life
  • enhance the school/college’s core learning purpose 

There are two main sections; ‘things to know’ and ‘things to do’. Take your time so you use this resource as works for you. The headline tips give rapid access advice and the drop-downs beneath each tip provide more detail.

Things to know

Leaders in our education settings have a really hard, complex and multifaceted job. The COVID-19 pandemic has added further layers of challenge and complexity. This is the fourth set of tips in this series specifically designed for education staff, intended to provide evidence-based support in these times of challenge.

As a school leader you have multiple overlapping areas of control, influence, and interest. You are responsible for the education and wellbeing of the whole school. You also have a key role in meeting the health and social care needs of pupils, families and staff alike. This is indeed a complex ‘system’.

You lead this complex organisation, employing high numbers of staff, with major financial responsibilities too. You have to think big (encapsulating the educational vision) and think small. All this with the added complexity of being responsible for hundreds of children’s learning and safety whilst ensuring the wellbeing of the whole school community. It is no wonder that leaders sometimes forget to look after themselves. Education Support’s Teacher Wellbeing Index 2021 (see resources for more info), 84% of leaders report that they feel stressed, and more than half say they always go to work when they are unwell.

Good relationships are the key to thriving education communities. Leaders and managers who have a good understanding of how positive relationships work, are in a better position to support their own wellbeing and the mental health and wellbeing of their team – benefitting the whole community.

There is a link between a leadership style which engages staff in ongoing learning and development, and wider professional wellbeing. A good leader is interested in the wellbeing, professional performance and development of all the staff in the setting and involves staff in decision and policy making. This in turn, supports children and young people to learn well and become good citizens, as modelled by staff.

A good leader looks after themselves, so they can care and provide leadership for everyone in the setting

Good relationships are the key to educationally thriving communities

Leaders hold the balance between the responsibility of the organisation and the individual

Your principled, value led leadership will support the wellbeing of your team

Your role impacts positively on your team

As a leader endeavour not to...

Look out for signs of stress and burnout within your team. That includes you!

Remember, the aim is to build psychosocial resilience and wellbeing within the team

Here are three tools to help you build wellbeing and support resilience

The Five Rs - a mnemonic to support relationships, connectedness, wellbeing and psychosocial resilience

The four principles of “PIES” for supporting others after trauma

Psychological First Aid (PFA, World Health Organisation 2020) - simple ordinary steps for everyone

Things to do

Put on your own ‘oxygen mask’ first, so you can help others put theirs on

Know your staff

Take a lead on reducing any stigma in relation to mental health and wellbeing

Look ahead and plan with a view to considering staff stress

Stress can come from primary and secondary sources – work may be the primary source

Times of crisis call for tough decisions. Be the leader you would like to be faced with in a crisis

Prioritise staff wellbeing in the period after an incident or period of crisis

Seek advice after a stressful event

Recognise the tension between performance management and someone’s wellbeing when they are not doing their job well over a period of time

Ensure there are clearly defined and well communicated pathways to more specialised help and care

Resources 

For yourself and for those in your education community

Within education settings

Other support groups and caring organisations you may find useful

References

Acknowledgements

The content for these tips was written and edited by Dr Raphael Kelvin and Dr Julie Greer. They draw upon the suite of tips on the MindEd Hub and input from our reference groups of healthcare and education setting experts, to whom we are most grateful.

Education Reference Group: John Dexter, John Ivens, Margaret Mulholland, Steve Rippin, Jason Turner

Wider Stakeholder Group: Sinéad Mc Brearty, Faye McGuinness, Joanna Holmes, Lisa Shostack, Mina Fazel, Andy Bell, Ray McMorrow, Sarah Hannifan, James Brown, DFE (Emma Woodshaw), Sarah Lyons, Steve Cooper

© 2022 Education Support Limited, MindEd / Royal College of Psychiatrists and Health Education

Further support is available from NHS England.

Disclaimer

This document provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this document, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read in this document or in any linked materials. If you think you may have an emergency, call an appropriate source of help and support such as your doctor or emergency services immediately.

MindEd is created by a group of organisations and is funded by Health Education England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education.

elfh is a Health Education England Programme in partnership with the NHS and Professional Bodies.

© 2021 MindEd / Royal College of Psychiatrists and Health Education England 

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