By Jade Walwyn on 10 Nov 2020
As we enter into the second national lockdown and adjust to another significant change both professionally and personally we take a look at how Governing Bodies and Trustees can recognise the hard work and dedication of their staff during a pandemic.
It isn’t said loud enough how incredible school leaders and school staff have been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and still in the second wave they continue to be the shining lights of our communities to keep our school’s open and our children safe. The profession has evolved and expanded in to so much more than before with Heads and staff navigating their way through the depths of track and trace, burst bubbles, isolation, staff shortages, online learning, increase in external pressures and their own personal circumstances. Through all this turmoil one thing that remains concrete is the selflessness of school staff and leaders and their committed dedication to education.
During this time, it is natural for Governors and Trustees to think about how they can acknowledge the dedication and hard work of their Heads, leadership teams and whole school family. But how can this be achieved during a time of such uncertainty and financial constraint?
The most obvious solution is to reward staff financially however what if this isn’t possible due to budget pressures? Or what if this isn’t deemed to be the best use of money when we don’t know how long we will be facing these challenges or what further there is to come?
There is no doubt that the role of Headteachers and school leaders has been significantly increased due to COVID-19 on top of all the usual pressures from the DFE, Government and wider school community to name a few. There is also no doubt that the workload of the whole school family has changed and increased during this time too. We have witnessed such outstanding flexibility and resilience from all staff during this time and the profession as a whole upholding their obligation to “to make the education of their pupils their first concern.” Teachers Standards Document, DFE 2011.
Where Governing Bodies can award financial incentives, they should consider this strategically. As well as affordability, we would ask you to bear in mind the constraints of the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and whilst temporary additional payments are permissible for your Headteachers, this isn’t straightforward for the remaining Teaching Staff or support staff under the National Joint Council (NJC).
When budgets and terms and conditions are stringent, how can we give meaningful thanks to our unsung heroes without disrupting morale or causing insult? The answer, invest in them. Invest any additional resource you can muster to the health and well-being of your staff.
Reward and recognition come in many forms and it may be surprising to hear that most employees are satisfied with simple recognition, reassurance and praise where praise is due. This will already be underway with the appraisal year coming to an end but it shouldn’t just be once a year. The best way to consider what will work for your staff, and to ensure staff feel valued, is to ask and involve them in decision making. Which is also something our colleagues in the unions strongly encourage.
A lot of teachers we speak to say that whilst it’s nice to receivie a new thermal flask or chocolates for example, they simply want time back. Time to breathe, time to plan and time to catch up. This could mean less after school meetings, more time out of the classroom (where bubbles permit), more external support, less extracurricular expectations, better technology and less non-essential learning walks, book scrutiny or observations - as examples.
Every school is unique and what works for one may not in another. You may be familiar with the meme “we are all in the same storm but on a different boat,” this is true for both individuals and individual schools. With well-being being so high on everyone’s agenda at the moment, take a moment to look at our dedicated wellbeing area to see how we can support you to implement a strategy within your school.
We have seen through social media some really inspiring and innovative ways in which staff have been recognised including tree planting, pizza Fridays, fancy staffroom coffee machines and publishing achievements and praise of staff through their social media channels. The possibilities are endless.
Our expert HR Advisers can support Chairs and School Leaders with pay advice and advice around reward, recognition and well-being so please don’t hesitate to contact us on our dedicated Helpline 0161 276 0153 / 0844 967 1112. Or email us via email@example.com.
In case you haven’t heard this today, from us here at One Education, thank you. Thank you for your courage and thank you for your personal sacrifice to keep our children safe and in education. The children of today are lucky to be supported by such strong and inspirational role models and they will remember you when they think back to how the pandemic impacted their lives. Be proud and keep going.