5 ways school leaders can support their staff

Leading, motivating and supporting staff is a tricky proposition in the midst of a national crisis. Teachers and education staff throughout the sector are dealing with a wide range of issues.

Videos / 6 mins watch

In this short video our CEO Sinéad Mc Brearty outlines 5 ways that headteachers, school and college leaders and managers can best support teachers and education staff.

Here is summary of the 5 ways to support teachers and education staff for you to print out and reference.

1. Clear management structures: 

  • Encourage staff to establish a work routine – if this doesn’t need to be rigid, give as much flexibility as possible to allow people to manage childcare, and other personal demands
  • Agree manageable weekly/fortnightly goals
  • Debrief your team. Teachers are dealing with new and difficult boundary issues - schooling in the domestic realm, worry about vulnerable students etc. They will need support to reflect on these issues and deal with the emotional impact.

2. Purpose

  • Help staff to maintain a clear sense of purpose - what they are there to do and what is most important - and help them to make it meaningful in this current situation.
  • You might want them to focus on how they can support students to remain connected with the school community.

3. Control 

  • We all like a sense of control. Managers needs to encourage staff to distinguish between what they can and can’t control: 

What can't be controlled:

  • Learning outcomes
  • The extent to which families comply with the school's approach
  • Normal standard for safety and safeguarding

Focus instead of areas where they can make a meaningful difference: 

  • Demonstrating care for their students
  • Offering support 
  • Offering feedback where possible

4. Relationships

Education is a profoundly social profession and it's essential to have good collegiate relationships to promote teacher resilience. 

  • Help staff to identify which colleagues can energise and support them and encourage them to reach out and connect with these colleagues.
  • Help them recognise who they can support. 
  • Develop a two-way flow across school or college network, supporting & supported.

5. Mental health hygiene

Good mental health hygiene is important to keep everyone well. Managers need to encourage staff take care of themselves and need to role model this behaviour:

  • Regular exercise, good nutrition, enough sleep and limit social media.
  • Creativity – rearrange room, learn to sing a song, cook new dish, grow plant, make/do/mend, TikTok routine.
  • Practice gratitude – focus on the positive and celebrate small victories and be liberal with praise.
  • Accept uncertainty - when will school go back? How can they safely? These are all things we cannot control, so try to focus on what we can control.
  • Talk about feelings and accept as normal feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and grief at the loss of our way of life or bereavement for the loss of a loved one. 

You can best support our teachers and education staff by being human first and line managers second. 

How managers can support their staff poster

Employee Assistance Programme
Employee Assistance Programme
School and FE leaders' service
School and FE leaders' service