VIEWS From the pen of... Sonia Mainstone-Cotton

In our regular series on authors working in the field of education, this month we hear from SONIA MAINSTONE- COTTON, author and early-years consultant working in schools, on making sure it’s not just the children in schools who are encouraged to look after themselves and their wellbeing.

It's almost the end of the school year; you may be on the countdown to the end of the term. At this point in the year staff wellbeing can be low, staff are exhausted and have often spent the year focusing on the needs of the children they work with. Wellbeing is high on the agenda; we often hear how both

children and adults have poor wellbeing. We know that many in Education are leaving due to the high stress. All the staff I work with are passionate about improving the wellbeing of the children they work with, but I have also seen how difficult this is if their own wellbeing is poor. I firmly believe it is essential to look after our own wellbeing and then we can help children's wellbeing. In my book I suggest there are some basic things we can all do to support our own wellbeing, here are just a few.

Eat and sleep It sounds obvious, but how well are you eating? We know that children need to eat breakfast to be able to perform well throughout the day. It is just the same for the staff, I know many teachers who often skip breakfast, or don't eat lunch. Eating well during the day is so important. This can be hard if you're arriving at school early or rushing after dropping your own children off, but could you have some breakfast things in the staffroom? Research shows as adults we need between 7-9 hours of sleep

a night. Research also shows teachers are amongst the worst group of professionals at sleeping. In those ‘7-9 hours’ your brain does the most problem-solving. How much sleep do you get?

Time outside There is growing research showing the benefits of spending time outside in lowering stress levels. If you can feel the stress levels rising, take the opportunity to get outside. If possible, on your lunch break go for a short walk. Or if it is a sunny day go outside; find a quiet spot (probably outside the school grounds!) and sit for 5 minutes, enjoy the sun on your skin, close your eyes and breathe. If you can see a colleague is stressed suggest they get out for 5 or 10 minutes. Physically stepping outside and leaving the building can help us to breathe more deeply and relax a little.

Do something that makes you happy Again, this sounds basic but it can be powerful: doing one thing each day that makes you feel happy can really help your wellbeing. This may be listening to music, reading a book, walking the dog or exercising. It doesn't really matter what it is, but it's the intention that is important. For me I swim every weekday morning, swimming makes me happy and helps me to feel very good.

uSonia’s book Promoting Emotional Wellbeing in Early Years Staff: A Practical Guide for Looking after Yourself and Your Colleagues is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers priced at £14.99

British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) Can tech solve the teacher

recruitment crisis? This month, resident Education Today columnist PATRICK HAYES, Director of BESA, looks at the recruitment problems facing the education sector, and wonders if tech can play a part in solving it.

As the readers of Education Today will be only too aware, teacher recruitment is a burning issue in the education sector at the moment. The successive governments have been trying to find a sustainable solution over the past few years. Now, education suppliers are also trying to help answer the problem. The latest figures released by the government show that almost

40,000 teachers – representing about 9% of the workforce – quit the profession in 2016. What’s more, they are not all being replaced: about 20% of teacher training vacancies in secondary schools are currently unfilled. This is now a trend, as it has been five years that recruitment targets

for teaching have been missed. Every teacher will tell you that teaching is a passion, but more and more new graduates see the substantial gap between a teachers’ salary and that of a graduate job in the private sector – upwards of £6,000 - and are deterred from entering as a result. Research has shown that one of the main reasons teachers decide to

leave the profession is their unmanageable and ever-increasing workload. Horror stories of newly qualified teachers suffering from burn-out after three months come out every other week in the education media. Of course, the main victims of this worrying trend are children;

teacher absence and an overuse of supply teachers disrupt children’s education, with the capacity to negatively impact their learning. Recruiting is often an expensive task that comes on top of this

already difficult financial situation for schools. The Department for Education is planning to announce a plan to help schools in the next few weeks, which is likely to include their own jobs platform, the Teacher Vacancy Service. But ultimately the issue is not that teachers don’t know where to look for jobs, it’s that there aren’t enough teachers looking. Meanwhile, members of the British Educational Suppliers Association

(BESA) are dedicated to supporting schools to best solve their needs. Ednex, for example, is a new company that works closely with

schools to help them save their budgets for high-quality educational resources and teachers. is also new; built by former teachers, it offers schools a free job board to advertise their vacancies. Talented Teacher Jobs is also rapidly gaining traction. Established players are launching new innovative solutions too, like Tes School Portal; a suite of digital recruitment tools to help simplify your entire recruitment process. There are also attempts to save money on supply teaching too, with

platforms like AirSupply emerging, and acting like an “Uber” for supply teaching – paying teachers more and charging schools less because they cut out the middle man. There is no magic tech solution to the teacher recruitment crisis, and

it would be misleading to suggest otherwise. Certainly, the root causes of the teacher shortage need to be addressed, and we shouldn’t allow government initiatives like the TVS distract from this happening. Seriously addressing workload and low teacher pay would be far more effective ways of dealing with the teacher recruitment issue than putting another jobs board out on the market. But at a time when budgets are tightening and it’s increasingly hard

to attract talent, it’s worth exploring some of the new initiatives being developed to help make your lives easier. They may well help you find the right candidate, and save you money too.

June 2018 13

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