The wellbeing of students and teachers is now an educational policy priority. Increasingly, teachers are held responsible for the wellbeing of their students and school managers are expected to support the wellbeing of staff. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis threatens the wellbeing of students and teachers and the onus of wellbeing support has become both more vital and more challenging. This online event will include three presentations. Michelle Jayman and Annita Ventouris of the University of West London will describe research to support primary pupil wellbeing through a mental wellness card game. Emma Clarke and Aimee Quickfall of Bishop Grosseteste University will report their research into wellbeing in primary initial teacher education. Finally, Alex Manning, Richard Brock and Emma Towers of King’s College London will report research that has examined English primary and secondary teachers’ perceptions of the wellbeing support offered in their schools. The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion.
Supporting pupil wellbeing in primary schools with Book of Beasties (BoB): the mental wellness card game
Michelle Jayman, University of West London
Recent figures show a rising number of children experiencing emotional difficulties (NHS Digital, 2018). Increased responsibility has been placed on schools to help pupils develop ‘inner resources they can draw on as a buffer when negative or stressful things happen’ (DfE, 2016, p19). BoB: the mental wellness card game, is a school-based intervention which utilises playful learning to improve emotional literacy and wellbeing. This paper discusses preliminary findings from a pilot study of the BoB five-week programme (weekly, one-hour sessions, combining game play and linked therapeutic activities). A single case study comprising one school (N=8 children; four boys and four girls; mean age 8.5 years) investigated the perceptions and experiences of recipients (children), school staff (delivery agents) and parents/carers. Findings from thematic analyses suggested that BoB was a socially valid intervention that benefitted recipients in developing/enhancing socio-emotional skills (e.g. prosocial behaviour and empathy) and improving subjective wellbeing. Findings also elicited specific components of BoB, e.g. fantastical elements of the game (reality inhibition) and sensory-focussed activities that may influence positive child outcomes. The feasibility of conducting a full-scale evaluation of BoB to examine effectiveness and understand process issues was established. Further research will address a gap in the school-based socio-emotional intervention literature.
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: The Primary Initial Teacher Education Well-being Rollercoaster
Emma Clarke, Bishop Grosseteste University; Aimee Quickfall, Bishop Grosseteste University
Teacher recruitment, retention and well-being are ongoing issues in England and internationally (DfE, 2016, 2018; Geiger and Pivovarova, 2018) and are recurrent and pertinent issues for initial teacher trainees in England. This paper shares the findings of a small-scale, qualitative pilot project which tracked 13 students over their training year in one higher education institution, using photo-elicitation, timelines, diagrams and stimulated recall interviews to understand the experiences of trainee teachers. The research involved four trainee researchers; considerations of power relations in the interaction of staff and students (Crawford, Hagyard, Horsley et al., 2018), particularly in an ‘open’ information gathering activity (photographs, timelines, semi-structured interviews), has led to this project being designed to include student researchers in decision-making, data collection and analysis.
Timelines and diagrams were collected from the wider ‘community of practice’, 80 UK trainee teachers, providing contextual and supporting data. Emerging themes for students and staff during data analysis were the ‘rollercoaster effect’ over the year and connections between the ‘highs’ of well-being and a sense of community or personal support and the ‘lows’ of well-being and depictions of isolation. Following the pilot, tentative changes have been made to the training programme to support trainees with ‘pinch points’ and an appreciation of their challenges and resources, as well as resources for building learning communities.
Commanded to be well: Teachers’ perceptions of the wellbeing support offered in English schools
Alex Manning, King’s College London; Richard Brock, King’s College London; Emma Towers, King’s College London
Research suggest many teachers in schools in England report low levels of wellbeing due to their work (Education Support, 2019). Recently, responding to such reports, policy makers have placed an increased onus on schools to support the wellbeing of their teachers (Hinds, 2019, Ofsted, 2019). Schools have begun to implement interventions to support teacher wellbeing that can be conceptualised as part of a broader policy movement seeking to improve the subjective wellbeing of citizens for policy ends. This research examines teachers’ perceptions of the wellbeing support offered to them in school. A purposeful sample of ten schools (primary and secondary) in Greater London offering wellbeing support was selected. Fifteen teachers were interviewed about the support offered and their perceptions of the support. Findings show that teachers can feel isolated in their responsibility for managing their own wellbeing and have mixed views about the strategies their schools have introduced to support their wellbeing. Teachers describe a range of different wellbeing support strategies that have been implemented in their schools and report that, in some cases, activities designed with good intentions can negatively affect their wellbeing. It is laudable that schools have begun to consider their teachers’ wellbeing, however this study highlights that care needs to be taken when implementing wellbeing support to avoid unintended burdens for teachers.