Emotional wellbeing is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and wellbeing programmes in schools, can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Wellbeing provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and bullying.
‘Wise up to Wellbeing in Schools’ Young Minds, National Children’s Bureau
I qualified as a teacher in 1991. The benefits of good wellbeing provision were well-known then, but, since that time, I have witnessed the education system becoming unbalanced. Academic attainment is the chief (and sometimes only) focus as creative subjects are cut from the curriculum, lunchtime is limited and extra-curricular activities are not available for all. The reasons behind this are myriad, complex and have lead to burn out, feelings of inadequacy and a thriving trade in private tuition, essay writing and cheating in a bid to achieve at all costs. Let’s just say for now that the prominence given to exams and academic attainment within the education system is having a negative impact on the mental health of our young people and on their teachers.
Creative subjects, sport and other outdoor activities all have a part to play in helping young people and their teachers to be more resilient, more contented, team players and more rounded, fulfilled individuals. That’s why you’ll find me encouraging my students and my colleagues to embrace these opportunities as I have done with my own children.
Teachers are leaving the profession in ever greater numbers, staff retention is a real issue for many head teachers and for those individuals who do decide to leave the profession there are a significant number referring to their workplaces as ‘toxic’. Well-being is just as relevant for teachers as it is for their students. Maintaining a healthy work life balance is essential for everyone.