The inner swan: does your school offer

teaching support? Comment by NAIMISH GOHIL, CEO & Founder, Satchel

To be a good teacher, you must embrace your inner swan. To the outside world, teachers are poised and controlled. Personal issues take a backseat to helping pupils get the education on which their futures depend. Perhaps this is why they get taken for

granted so often. Their dependability means many schools forget they are human, and have the same needs as every other worker. Schools are failing their staff, and with ⅘

teachers considering quitting, it is critical for headteachers to understand how to support staff better.

Reward and recognition Recognising hard work is an effective way of improving staff morale. Even in today’s results-driven atmosphere, headteachers know that school success depends on culture - both amongst pupils and staff. Just as a good teacher looks out for struggling pupils, so headteachers should consult staff to enquire about their state of mind and offer a helping hand. Schools should also look at recognising the hard work of teaching staff

as a whole. This could take the form of celebrating their achievements in assembly, or hosting regular staff coffee mornings as a platform to discuss challenges and provide gratitude. Here, teachers would feel valued and listened-to, and this would thus improve morale and mental

health. Such wellbeing efforts, however, are only effective if sincere and strongly driven by leadership.

Leading by example Headteachers are the focal point for the organisation and must command respect of their staff to ensure success. Leadership, then, is not just about making the right calls, but about demonstrating personal commitment to the goals they set for everyone else. This extends beyond the rolling up of sleeves; it also requires them to create an atmosphere where staff feel their concerns are heard and acted upon. Like staff in any other organisation, teachers want to feel part of the mission; they also expect headteachers to value crucial insights from the teaching coalface. That’s why alongside appreciation, headteachers must also take staff

suggestions for ways to improve the school and its culture. This could involve concerns such as improving facilities for teachers (many new-build schools don’t even have a staffroom), more weighty questions of curriculum or pupil behaviour, or PE teachers running staff-only yoga classes. If head teachers can support initiatives like these, they will give a massive fillip to morale.

The right tools for the job Teachers won’t admit it, but one of the biggest causes of stress is pupils. Poor behaviour is responsible for over ¾ of work-related mental health conditions, which is also responsible for 70 per cent of teachers considering leaving the profession. That’s why headteachers must listen to the concerns that staff raise

about disruptive pupil behaviour, and also implement the right tools for effective classroom management. Something as simple as seating plans and classroom layouts can have a huge impact on behaviour. The main thing isn’t the tools, but the fact that headteachers are showing they can react to their issues. Teaching can be a lonely profession, and teachers shouldn’t feel

further isolated by a lack of listening, support, or recognition. No matter how calm teachers may appear, they might be hiding feelings of frustration and disillusionment – and all they might need is a little engagement and encouragement.

Giving every child the opportunity to engage

with dance Comment by JOCE GILES – Director of Learning & Engagement at Sadler’s Wells

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), England’s flagship youth dance programme, is run by Sadler’s Wells with joint funding from Arts Council England and the Department of Education. At NYDC we feel passionately that every child and young person should have the opportunity to engage in dance and since it was established in 2012, the company has provided inspirational opportunities to thousands of children and young people in England. Promoting a professional ethos is fundamental

to our work and each year NYDC appoints a guest artistic director to work with the company, who creates a new production that is performed by the young dancers at theatres across the country. Guest artistic directors have included world renowned choreographers such as Akram Khan and Sharon Eyal and for this current year the company is working with recent Olivier Award winner Botis Seva. The company leads workshops across England every year, giving

participants an insight into NYDC and the chance to be considered to join the company the following year. Through the workshop programme, 30


new dancers aged 16 – 18 years (up to 24 years for dancers with a disability) are selected and are joined by up to 10 returning company members. Through extensive independent evaluation, we know that young

people taking part in NYDC develop a whole range of skills. As well as developing physical and creative skills from working with world class dance artists, we also have evidence that through dancing, company members develop important personal and social skills. These skills include confidence, independent thinking, communication and teamwork, which are all crucial for any future career. We are incredibly proud of the diversity of the young people that

NYDC engages with and are always looking for dancers from a range of dance styles. In recent years we have had hip hop dancers working alongside someone whose main style of dancing was Bharatanatyam, the South Asian dance technique. It is not a requirement for potential company members to have had extensive dance training before auditioning for the company. For many of our dancers, their first experience of dance has been at school and without that opportunity, several alumni of NYDC who are now working professionally with leading choreographers, might never have had the chance to develop their talent and realise their potential. When the NYDC dancers perform on stages up and down the country,

I am always so impressed by the talent, commitment, courage and discipline that they demonstrate. These moments are just the tip of the iceberg for the progression the company members have gone through in dance and there is a clear connection to work that is taking place at schools across the country. Schools and teachers that are committed to offering a broad based curriculum that includes dance, are not only giving some children an initial opportunity that could potentially lead to future training and employment in dance, they are also giving every child the chance to develop essential skills that will contribute to them successfully navigating their future lives.

June 2019

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