Our commitment to improving staff wellbeing in special schoolsEducation Support’s 2023 Teacher Wellbeing Index is a worrying read.

The seventh annual survey of over 3,004 education staff shows that wellbeing in the sector is not only poor but it is continuing to decline, year on year. Senior leaders remain at particular risk, with a significant decline in the overall wellbeing of classroom teachers.

The survey revealed widespread feelings of loneliness and isolation, with teachers and education staff feeling twice as lonely at work compared to the general population.

In the Foreword of the report, Sinéad Mc Brearty, Chief Executive Office at Education Support, raises concerns about what this means for the future of the workforce:

“The wellbeing of school and college leaders is a genuine and significant concern. The past seven years of these reports document a clear picture of stressed, overworked, staff. Almost a quarter of school and college leaders report acute stress as well.

These findings suggest that we can expect continued high levels of attrition from the workforce. It is hard to attract new talent to a profession that others are leaving in droves.”

Improving wellbeing for NASS members

At NASS, we have long recognised the importance of improving the wellbeing of staff in our member schools. Our commitment to providing the necessary support and resources remains unchanged. We will continue to offer tailored programmes, training, and assistance for schools, while also introducing new initiatives in 2024 to offer vital support.

In the last five years alone, NASS has collaborated with leading experts, initiated projects and delivered tailored programmes for its members in a bid to address the worsening problems around wellbeing.

In 2019, we were among the first organisations to endorse and facilitate supervision for school leaders with Talking Heads.

Currently, we run our own leadership programmes for education and social care staff, and recently partnered with Education Support on a project looking at how to support special schools with embedding staff wellbeing as part of school culture. You can find the resources used during this pilot here.

Moreover, NASS has supported new headteachers of special schools in participating in Mulberry Bush's Nurturing New Heads programme. The course offers holistic support for new headteachers and those responsible for their success during the early stages of their headship. It provides a supportive, reflective experience focused on new headteachers' wellbeing.

To further extend NASS’s support for members in 2024, there will be further training opportunities and we will also launch a monthly online drop-in session, a space for school staff to gather and share experiences in a supportive environment.