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How can health coaching support well-being in schools?

In short, by supporting staff to find realistic, sustainable ways to choose better health for themselves – whatever their circumstances. Staff well-being is being given increasing attention by Ofsted for good reason. Staff who feel good can do their jobs to the best of their ability. They can share their energy and vitality with the children. Personal experience of effectively cultivating well-being can be a great inspiration within school. A culture of empowered wellness is powerful for all involved. It creates conditions conducive to meaningful learning. From a purely practical perspective, the healthier staff are, the fewer sick days they require.

However powerfully it might be needed, sometimes the prospect of making changes can feel overwhelming. Even more so for those so busy they feel they are already drowning! As a health coach, I break the process down to make it achievable, one step at a time. It is possible to feel better, even for those who can only spare a few minutes a day. Imagine the impact on the school community as a whole if staff could get their heads far enough above water to really take a breath.

School staff were under a great deal of stress already. (As an experienced ex-teacher, I know this only too well.) And then the world went crazy! The basic facts will not be surprising to anyone in the education sector, and are clearly stated in the findings of the Ofsted report on Teacher well-being at work in schools and further education providers [i] (from pre-pandemic 2019):

“According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, teaching staff and education professionals report the highest rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety in Britain. […] Low levels of occupational well-being are in turn related to (self-reported) health issues.”

In response to the findings, Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO at charity Education Support Partnership, expressed concern, but not surprise: “This aligns with our own research where over three quarters of teachers experienced behavioural, psychological or physical symptoms due to their work”[ii] The Ofsted EIF (Education Inspection Framework), in force from September 2019, recognises this issue and brings new focus to the area of staff well-being [iii].

The effects of chronic stress on health are wide-ranging. It is linked with a vast range of long-term health problems. Examples include heart disease, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune disease. Also, significantly, impairments in cognitive function and mental health. It can directly trigger the onset, and / or exacerbation, of many diseases. Excessive ongoing stress impacts our ability to function in a variety of ways, and greatly increases the risk of ill health. This has a huge impact on schools, on staff, and on the experience of learners.

Teachers, and other school staff, have been placed on an entirely new front line over the course of the pandemic. This extraordinary situation has of course brought new challenges, and with them significantly increased pressure [iv]. There has never been a more critical time to invest in the welfare of those who are providing so much for our children.

Whole staff training can provide shared understanding and health inspiration for everyone

  • EXAMPLE PRICES – Whole staff sessions:

  • One-off 1 hour (staff meeting) session – from £180
  • One-off 2.5 hour (half day INSET) session – from £285

By their nature, large group sessions are more education based than strictly coaching. There are many options in terms of content. All would be designed for attendees to come away with ideas for simple, practical, personally relevant steps to enhance their own well-being. The length of the session/s and size of the group would of course dictate the level of detail or discussion that we would be able to get into. They can be arranged as individual sessions, or as a series over a period of time to suit your setting. Staff meeting or INSET sessions are available in person (depending on location), or virtually. Sessions can be tailored to your specific requirements.

Some topic examples might include:

  • Simple self-care – how to approach implementing self-care in your own life, that can start with as little as 5 minutes a day.

  • The pillars of health – core concepts key to the basic pillars of health (stress management / sleep / social connection / movement / nutrition) and how they can work together to help you feel better.

  • Finding time for healthier choices in a crazy busy life – a strategy for implementing healthy change to maximise your chances of success.

  • Building better habits – simple tips to help establish new habits, or perhaps ditch some old ones.

  • How to make healthy change stick – harnessing your own personal motivation.

Group coaching

  • EXAMPLE PRICES – Small group sessions:

  • Online small group package:

    6 x 1-hour sessions for 4-6 participants - from £126pp (£21/session)

I am also able to work with small groups of staff (6 per session is ideal) if a more in-depth programme of support is appropriate. For example, a single group could meet two or three times per half term. A term of working in this way would be sufficient for participants to expect to see significant results if they are willing to commit to the process. The agenda could be developed with the group members according to their needs, or could be loosely based around identified priorities (e.g. stress management techniques).

Individual coaching for staff can offer effective, personalised support

  • EXAMPLE PRICES – Individual sessions:

  • Initial 1:1 session: 90 minutes – £88

  • Follow up 1:1 session: 45 minutes – £52

  • 3 month* 1:1 package STANDARD: 1 x 90-minute session + 5 x fortnightly 45-minute follow ups – £310 (saving £38 against booking individual sessions)

Coaching is a client-led process that provides support tailored to their current situation and goals. For more on 1:1 coaching see here. In the context of schools, imagine the benefits for staff working close to (or beyond) their limits, of regular time with an expert in behaviour change and deep listening. Just having someone to talk to can be an enormous relief! However, coaching is much more than just a listening ear. I work with clients to make a realistic plan for sustainable changes to support their health and well-being. Together we identify, explore and harness their personal motivation to feel better. We trouble-shoot together as required. Partnering with a coach when working on behaviour change significantly increases the likelihood of success [vi].

Please contact me if you would like to discuss individual coaching for your staff, or if you would like to arrange a brief presentation for your staff on the benefits of coaching that they may wish to pursue privately.

If you feel that coaching with me may be a good fit for your school or your staff, please reach out to arrange a free consultation to discuss your requirements.

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