Psychological Wellbeing and Work Performance by tsm53131


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									The „whole‟ teacher1: staff wellbeing and school
effectiveness      A discussion paper DRAFT                       2

Karamat Iqbal, Lead Officer: Staff Resilience and Wellbeing

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A couple of decades ago the phrase „improving on the previous best‟ was coined. I am not
sure where or who by; could have even been in Birmingham. Regardless, we are certainly
known as a local authority which tries to do that and often succeeds. This year is no
different, looking at the exam results which have just been announced. But there is more to
schools; isn‟t there? What about the staff who work there? Given our size as a local
authority, we have more schools than most and invariably employ larger numbers of staff.

Although, it is very easy to say the well known phrase, „our staff are our best resource‟ but
what does it actually mean? Are they just there as a means to an end; to help us do even
better in our exam results next year and the years after? Even if that were true, surely we
would want to know how they can become even more effective and improve on their
previous best?

Purpose of the paper: to help start a discussion on these and many other questions which
are central to the work of our schools. It is based on the premise that the staff in our
schools are central to the effectiveness of the education we provide for our community.

Meaning of work

Work is central to most people‟s identities. Many of us as adults spend most of our waking
time at work. In many cultures when people first meet, they enquire of each other their
name, the place they belong to, how well their family is doing and so on and may or may
not ask a question about the person‟s work. Not us! Here, as soon as we meet someone we
quickly begin to talk about what people‟s job is. Does this mean that work is important to
our culture; more important than anything else? Should it be so?

According to Pope John Paul II, “work is a good thing for man- a good thing for his
humanity- because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own
needs, but he also achieves fulfilment as a human being and indeed in a sense becomes
„more a human being‟”. More than most places, I believe the statement to be true of schools
where future generations are enabled to be transformed.

    The term ‘teacher’ is used to describe anyone who has an education role.
    There is a fuller paper which contains references to published sources

Work may be more important in our culture, but our attitudes to it and what we expect from it
seems to be changing. Surveys of recent and upcoming generations of employees clearly show a
majority desire greater meaning and personal development from their work and suggest that many
workers see their work as a calling – enjoyable, fulfilling and socially useful. It has been argued that
as much as a fifth to a quarter of the variation in adult life satisfaction can be accounted for by
satisfaction with work.
Investigation of the happy-productive worker clearly links emotional wellbeing with work
performance. More satisfied employees are more cooperative, more helpful to their colleagues,
more punctual and time efficient, show up for more days of work and stay with the employer longer
than dissatisfied employees.

Employees who report experiencing a greater balance of positive emotional symptoms over
negative emotional symptoms are said to receive higher performance ratings from supervisors.
Employee engagement also generates higher levels of job satisfaction, commitment, joy, fulfilment,
interest; this leads to better and higher levels of effort from staff and higher levels of staff
retention. This ultimately leads to improved business outcomes such as raised standards of


Any discussion on wellbeing has to include a consideration of unwellness and, in particular,
its manifestation through stress. According to the NASUWT, stress occurs when “demands
outweigh the individual‟s resources and the situation is psychologically important to the
individual (internal pressure)”. It can have adverse effects on organisations in terms of
employee commitment to their work, their productivity and turnover. For individuals, it can
literally be a matter of life and death as shown by the number of people who have taken
their own life due to stress.

According to Voice: “stress can be a positive factor as well as a negative one. Too little
stress can be a bad thing if it leads to boredom and lack of motivation”. They cite, as causes
of stress: lack of resources; increased workload; reducing staffing; poor working
environment; poor management; lack of admin support and poor communication.

The modern schooling with its low trust social relations has been pointed as the cause of teacher
stress. It has also been pointed out that “school improvement is only likely in schools where risk
taking is encouraged within an atmosphere of basic trust and support and where teachers are given
the basic security of being trusted and valued”

According to the Teacher Support Network stress occurs when someone feels they have
more demands than they are capable of meeting and site, as its causes, role conflict and
role ambiguity. They point out that: “Teachers who felt that other people demanded more
than they were capable of giving had higher levels of stress, stress related ill health and
burnout and lower levels of wellbeing”

There are three models of stress: engineering (load or demand placed upon a person
which exceeds the „elastic limit‟ of the individual‟s capacity to adapt to it); medical (focuses
on physiological and psychological responses: interactive (stress is seen as interactive and
The third model is most relevant to teachers. “It implies that responsibility for the
maintenance of acceptable levels of stress in teaching is a two-way process. Employers have
a statutory duty to ensure that the working environment in schools does not adversely affect
employees‟ health; but teachers must also apply their adaptive resources to help them cope
with the inherent pressures of their chosen profession”.

There is recognition that teaching as a profession and some schools in particular may exert
pressures on teachers; also that individual teachers react in different ways and bring a
variety of adaptive resources to help them cope with those pressures. Importantly, the
Interactive model portrays teachers as active beings who are no longer merely at the mercy
of external pressures.

The effects of stress are not uniform: “The average teacher in a maintained school loses
30% more time due to illness than the average teacher in an independent school. In
addition, a teacher in a maintained school is more than twice as likely to take time off for
sickness during the year than a teacher in an independent school”


       When you feel too ill to work, you can either stay at home (absenteeism) or decide to show
       up at work (presenteeism) Robertson Cooper

One obvious way in which stress manifests itself is through absenteeism, where staff simply
are away from their workplace. However, less talked about is its impact through
presenteeism. It has been pointed out that the lost productivity through absenteeism is
“significantly less than the lost productivity associated with staff who are too unwell to work
to the best of their ability (presenteeism)”. Another form of presenteeism is what has been
described as „face-time‟ where employees show their face either when they are too ill to be
there or are not productive but want to be seen to be putting the time in. Sadly, because it
is easier to define, measure and monitor, organisations continue to focus their attention on

Presenteeism has been said to be a particular issue for teachers, who “...drag themselves in
because they are committed to the young people they teach. Then they hang on until the
weekend or half term before they allow themselves to get properly ill” (TES 30 1 09).

Is there presenteeism in your school? Are there staff who are ill but still show up to work
when they should be at home? Are there staff who are at work simply because they don‟t
want to be seen to be going home before the others or the before the boss?

Stress causes worker performance and quality of life to be hindered by strain (too much challenge)
or boredom (too little challenge). From the stress perspective, a healthy work force means the
absence of strain or boredom while from the wellbeing perspective a healthy work force means the
presence of positive feelings in the worker that should result in happier and more productive

Pupil behaviour causes stress

According to the VITAE 3 report into teachers‟ lives, pupil indiscipline is one of the major causes of
stress for teachers. As teaching and learning can only take place in a well-ordered environment, the
situation gives rise to conflict for all concerned, especially the teacher who sets out to do a good job
but whose efforts are thwarted. This has been supported by other research.

    “..It is occupational variables (student disruptive attitudes/behaviour, stress suffered by teachers
   as a result of conflict management and the lack of support/consensus in disciplinary issues) that are
   the main contributors in accounting for burnout in secondary school teachers”.

It has been suggested that “teachers will benefit from support interventions that enable them to cope
better with this aspect of their work” (i.e. student behaviour). A case has also been made for boosting
teachers‟ self-efficacy and coping efforts in order to reduce the negative impact of student behaviour
on them.

There are beneficial effects on teachers of good relationships with co-workers and a harmonious
atmosphere at work. Social support systems moderate the impact of stressors, they also affect
teachers‟ perceptions of stress”. However, no strategy works the same for everyone: “To suggest that
social support strategies are effective in all situations is to misunderstand the role of personality and
coping approaches”.


   Within their classrooms, effective teachers create learning environments which foster pupil progress
   by deploying their teaching skills as well as a wide range of professional characteristics.
   Outstanding teachers create an excellent classroom climate and achieve superior pupil progress
   largely by displaying more professional characteristics at higher levels of sophistication within a very
   structured learning environment. Hay McBer

According to VITAE, the majority of teachers enter teaching to „work with children‟ or „to make a
difference‟. To be effective in their jobs they have to invest their emotional and intellectual energies
and draw upon a range of personal and professional capacities and experience, knowledge and skills.
Therefore, in order to raise standards in schools,” it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding
of teacher effectiveness, its complex configuration and its antecedents”. They go onto state that:

“What is required is a better understanding of the moderating and mediating factors which enable
teachers, not simply to remain in teaching but more importantly to sustain their commitment and
therefore effectiveness over the whole of their carers. 80% of teachers found “leadership, colleagues
and culture to be key influences, positive or negative, upon their capacity to be effective.”

It has been found that good teachers gravitate to places where they know they will be appreciated.
They are sustained by the other good teachers who become colleagues and together these teachers
become a magnet for still others who are attracted to environments where they can learn from their
colleagues and create success for their students. Effective leaders and policy makers can then create
great school environments in which accomplished teaching can flourish and grow.

       Day et al 2006 Variations in teachers’ work lives and effectiveness (known as VITAE) DCSF

Teacher effectiveness; the whole person

           Teachers don‟t just have jobs. They have professional and personal lives as well. Although it
           seems trite to say this, many failed efforts in in-service training, teacher development and
           educational change more widely are precisely attributable to this neglect of teacher as a
           person- to abstracting the teacher‟s skills from the teacher‟s self, the technical aspects of
           the teacher‟s work from the commitment embedded in the teacher‟s life. Understanding the
           teacher means understanding the person the teacher is                   (Hargreaves 1993)

According to VITAE, teacher effectiveness needs to be understood holistically: “not only expertise, but
also personal and professional biography, situational, emotional and psychological factors as well as the
complexity of the schools in which they work and the pupils who they teach, alongside changes over
time and circumstance may affect their effectiveness as teachers ”

Research on predictors of teacher effectiveness has similarly pointed out that “life satisfaction was the
best predictor of performance” and has pointed to the possibility that teachers higher in life satisfaction
“may be more adept at engaging their pupils and their zest and enthusiasm may spread to their
students”. The same research also reminds us that because teachers, unlike, say, a carpenter, can not
see the outcome of their effort at the end of a day, week or term, they need a great deal of resilience
to keep going especially when working in challenging schools. Because of this, they also need regular
feedback from their peers and managers in order to know how well they are doing.

Effective schools

No doubt all schools aspire to make a statement such as:
(our school is) A place where our children's intellectual needs are nurtured and they can be supported
by a school team of adults who work effectively as a team and provide a high level of discretionary
effort - individuals who will go that extra mile for the sake of the children

According to Mortimer (1991), an effective school is: “a school in which students progress further than
might be expected from a consideration of its intake”.

At a global level it has been pointed out that schools “add about 14 per cent to the statistical
explanation of low achievement after allowing for all other factors we can measure about pupils‟
background...” (Cassen and Kingdon 2007). Slater et al (2009) also state that,” having a good teacher
as opposed to a mediocre or poor teacher makes a big difference”. They point out that if a poor
student was to have „good‟ teachers for all subjects and a non-poor student was to have „poor‟ teachers
for all subjects the gap between them (usually 6.08 GCSE points) can be reduced to 3.4 points.

Although, pupil wellbeing is not the focus of this paper, it has been shown that when schools attend to
the non-academic dimensions of wellbeing and create safe, inclusive and respectful learning
environments, “they are at the same time optimising opportunities for academic success.

There is said to be a clear link between teacher and student wellbeing, given that stressed or
disaffected teachers are unlikely to deliver effective social and emotional curricula. It is advisable for
schools to “consider practice which promotes teacher wellbeing and resilience”…. so that “the best self
of the educator connects with the best self of the student”.

Mortimer and Whitty (2000) point out that “schools with disadvantaged pupils can lift achievement
levels provided those who work in them invest the energy and the dedication to maintain momentum
even while working against the grain”. Pointing to an earlier project which had catalogued the work of
effective schools in disadvantaged communities, they state that while committed and talented heads
and teachers can improve schools serving disadvantaged communities, in order to do so they “have to
exceed what could be termed „normal efforts.‟ Members of staff have to be more committed and work
harder than their peers elsewhere. What is more, they have to maintain the effort so as to sustain the
improvement”. The challenge in all schools but especially these ones is to find ways to not just bring
out the ordinary but the extra-ordinary effort and contribution; what is sometime called „discretionary

Great place to work

Each year, the Sunday Times has a list of „Great places to work‟. These are organisations where
employees " trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they
work with ". Sadly few schools are included by the newspaper, not because they do not live up to the
criteria but probably because they don‟t make a submission. Here is a challenge to our outstanding

According to a large scale action research project in the US, teachers‟ working conditions are pupils‟
learning conditions: how teachers are treated in the workplace has a major impact on pupil experience
and their achievement. It pointed out that:

      What's important for high student achievement? - Supportive school leadership, sufficient
       facilities and resources; time for teachers to plan and collaborate; time for teachers to focus on
       students without interruption and additional duties; an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

      What's important to retain teachers? - Overall perception of the school being a good place
       to work and learn; the ability of leadership to shield teachers from disruptions

According to their survey, almost nine in ten educators at the highest performing schools agreed their
school is a good place to work and learn compared to two thirds in the lowest performing schools.

To stress the emphasis on teacher working conditions, it is important to recall Dr Deming‟s 85:15 rule.
Based on his research on Japanese industries after World War II, he pointed out that 85% of a
worker‟s performance is determined by the system in which they work while the remaining 15% is their
own effort; thus pointing to the importance of the working conditions in which the workers carry out
their jobs.


Bandura defined self-efficacy as a person‟s belief in his or her capability to successfully perform a
particular task. There are three key sources of self-efficacy:

      Enactive self-mastery: this results from people‟s own success which convinces them that
       they have what it takes to achieve the task in question

      Role modelling: this is where learning takes place from watching another person who one
       values or likes; it helps if there are similarities between the two people e.g. similar backgrounds

      Verbal persuasion: this is when respected managers encourage and praise individuals for
       their competence and ability to improve their effectiveness

There is an obvious role for managers to develop their staff‟s self-efficacy, especially given that there
are clear benefits for schools.

The following quotes from the VITAE report speak for themselves:

Resilience:         Thus resilience- the ability of an individual to withstand or recover quickly from
difficult conditions- may be said to be a necessary quality for all and especially those who experience
changing or challenging circumstances

The teachers who were described as resilient (79% of102) “were more likely to be positive regarding
their wellbeing and the balance they managed to achieve between the pressures of work and home
life”. Resilient teachers had high motivations, high commitment and high self-efficacy.

The key factors which contributed positively to teachers‟ sense of agency, resilience and commitment
were: school/ departmental leadership (63%), supportive colleagues (58%) and family (52%)

Resilience and effectiveness:               Commitment and resilience are found to be crucial to teachers‟
abilities to sustain effectiveness. Positive relationships with school leaders and colleagues‟ support
sustain teachers‟ commitment, resilience and effectiveness

Teachers who were judged to have demonstrated resilience were more likely to have pupil value added
results of „above expectations‟ or „as expected‟. Likewise, those teachers who were thought to have
demonstrated a lack of resilience (or vulnerability) were more likely to have pupil value-added results of
„below expectations‟ or „as expected‟”

As well as for their own effectiveness as professionals, teachers need to be resilient for their students-
“it is unrealistic to expect students to be resilient if their teachers who constitute a primary source of
their role models do not demonstrate resilient qualities”.

Teachers in challenging schools:          Teachers who work in challenging socio-economic contexts are
not necessarily less effective than others.

Teachers who work in challenging socio-economic contexts are more likely to experience greater
challenges to their commitment, resilience, and effectiveness than those who work in relatively more
advantaged school contexts

Those working in disadvantaged contexts mentioned deteriorating pupil behaviour, lack of parental
support and the associated problems of demoralisation, failing energy and ill health. “It was this group
of teachers that may be said to be at greater risk of having their resilience eroded and potentially losing
their motivation and commitment to their work”

Despite their relatively more negative attitudes towards disruptive pupil behaviours, the majority of
teachers in FSM4 schools (these had over 35% pupils who were eligible for free school meals) showed
increased motivation, commitment and self-efficacy

In conclusion:    It is essential that both individual and collective commitment and resilience are
nurtured within the educational system if teachers are to sustain their effectiveness”

Research on teacher retention always focuses on why they leave; greater understanding is needed on
why and how teachers maintain their commitment (i.e. are resilient) despite the range of unfavourable
experiences they encounter in their work environments.
In the VITAE research a large majority of teachers did not leave the profession and did sustain their
sense of commitment despite challenges. The work, lives, resilience and effectiveness of such teachers
have been largely neglected in the research literature.


           The capacity of teachers to manage work-life tensions is key to their effectiveness.

           The national agreement defines work/life balance as being „about helping teachers combine
           work with their personal interests outside work‟ and cites working hours and workload as
           key, but not exclusive elements of this. Other elements include a sense of control, personal
           fulfilment, career development, work flexibility, physical and emotional wellbeing and the will
           of both employers and employees to ensure staff enjoy a reasonable work/life balance The
           National Agreement TDA 2006

           Work-life balance is essentially about choice and flexibility, balancing life and work,
           balancing the needs of both the employer and employees and the optimum environment for
           high performance and satisfaction at all levels…Different solutions satisfy different
           circumstances ATL 2004

According to VITAE, the potential impact of a lack of balance between work and life has been found to
lead to: higher stress levels; increased depression; physical ailments; decreased quality of family life
and lower energy levels. “From the employer‟s perspective, the inability to balance work and family
demands has been linked to reduced work performance, increased absenteeism, high turnover and
poor morale”.

Reciprocal job-life relationship; why the need for work-life balance

Since a job is a significant part of one‟s life, the relationship between job satisfaction and life
satisfaction makes sense. At its simplest people‟s work and personal lives are said to spill over and
impact on each other. There are three possible forms of relationship: spillover (where job experiences
spill over into non-work life and vice versa); segmentation (where job and life experiences are
separated and have little to do with one another); and compensation (where an individual seeks to
compensate for a dissatisfying job by seeking fulfilment and happiness in his or her non-work life and
vice versa).

The relationship between job and life satisfaction is reciprocal i.e. job satisfaction affects life
satisfaction and life satisfaction affects job satisfaction. There is thus impact of job satisfaction on a
person‟s wellbeing and dissatisfaction resulting from one‟s job can spill over into one‟s psychological

Dissatisfied employees are more likely to quit their jobs or be absent than satisfied employees.
Programmes which remove or reduce the impact of either job or life „satisfiers‟ can be of mutual benefit
to the individuals and to the organisation.

A survey of teachers in Northern Ireland found that as many as 65.9% had found that job-related
stress impacted on their lives outside work to some or a large extent. 17% reported that non-job
related stress impacted on their work to some or a large extent.

Life satisfaction: job satisfaction

It has shown that job satisfaction has links with (actual) turnover and turnover intentions (where
people start looking for other work). Research also suggests that “employees who are happy with their
lives tend to be more productive in the workplace, both in terms of in-role and extra-role performance”.

Work-life balance is not new. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Greenhaus et al4 pointed out that work
and non-work life is mutually interdependent i.e. what happens in one affects the other:

           Conflicts between work and family roles are heightened for employees who work long,
           irregular or inflexible hours and those who are exposed to ambiguous conflict-producing or
           otherwise taxing work environments.

           One possible explanation is that the attainment of high levels of job performance requires
           such large investment of time, concentration and emotion that there is very little time or
           energy remaining for other parts of one‟s life. The very activities that produce high job
           performance, in other words, may estrange an employee from his or her family and produce
           feelings of personal dissatisfaction

           Employees who work in non supportive environments are likely to experience higher levels
           of stress and lower levels of personal and marital wellbeing

           The attainment of high job performance in an autocratic environment may require
           employees to act autocratically towards others thereby provoking negative feelings about
           others over whom they have control

Greenhaus also drew attention to the gender dimension of work-life matters:

            "Negative relationships between job performance and marital adjustment and quality of life
           were observed among females. This finding suggests that women‟s success at work might
           produce resentment among their spouses and/or guilt among themselves thereby affecting
           their marital happiness and self-perceived quality of life

It would seem that after four decades of equality struggle, there are still gender issues affecting the
work-life chances of teachers, especially women. In a recent study of headteachers published in the
TES, it was found that around 96% male secondary heads were married and most had wives or
partners who had put their careers on the „back burner‟ so to take responsibility for running the home
and looking after children. The female heads on the other hand had much less support. Only 78% were
married/partnered and few of this group had partners who took responsibility for home and children.
Women heads also appeared to be making a choice between headship and motherhood as fewer of
them (63%) had children compared to the men (90%). Is this an issue for senior staff in Birmingham
schools? What can be done about it?

    Greenhaus JH et al (1987) Work experiences, job performance and feelings of personal and family
   wellbeing Journal of vocational behaviour 31, 200-215


There are said to be five dimensions of wellbeing.

          Physical: sound nutrition; regular exercise; ability to relax

          Emotional: being able to express in a positive way without making others feel
           defensive; being assertive; sense of humour

          Intellectual: being able to see something positive in any situation; ability to avoid
           irrational beliefs; not jumping to conclusions; blaming (yourself or others for
           negative events); being able to avoid „if only‟ and „what if‟ thoughts

          Social: relationships; sharing feelings, joys and burdens; home-work balance;
           having a support system- „the only way to have a friend is to be a friend‟

          Spiritual: believing in something greater than ourselves; having a sense of hope,
           courage, reflection; forgiveness

   Wellbeing “a positive and sustainable condition that allows individuals, groups, organisations
   and nations to thrive and flourish. It is a holistic concept which embraces the emotional,
   physical, spiritual, social and cognitive dimensions to development and emerges when a
   range of feelings are combined and balanced. It is said to be both context and job-specific.

   According to the job characteristics model, jobs that contain the following intrinsically motivating
   characteristics will lead to higher levels of job satisfaction:

          Task identity: degree to which one can see one‟s work from beginning to end. How does
           this relate to teachers? Where is the beginning and end? How do they know they are
           „making a difference‟ which they came to make when first entering the profession?

          Task significance: degree to which one‟s work is seen as important and significant. Do
           teachers feel their work to be significant? Who says so? Could more be done by
           society/community/city council in this respect?

          Skill variety: extent to which job allows one to do different tasks

          Autonomy: degree to which to one has control and discretion over how to conduct one‟s
           job. Is there too much dictation of what is done, when, how in schools and not enough
           discretion for the teachers as the professionals to decide according to their judgement?

          Feedback: degree to which there is feedback on how one is performing

   According to the model, jobs that provide these core characteristics are likely to be more satisfying
   and motivating than jobs that do not provide these characteristics. It is argued that of the major job
   satisfaction facets- pay, promotion opportunities, co-workers, supervision and the work itself-
   “satisfaction with the work itself is almost always the facet most strongly correlated with overall job
   satisfaction as well as with important outcomes such as employee retention”. In addition,
   relationships in the workplace are said to be very important to teacher effectiveness. These include

supportive supervision, opportunity for interpersonal contact, interaction with others, supportive

Organisational responses on wellbeing

Robertson Cooper talk about „enablers and barriers‟ to wellbeing e.g. resources, communication,
control, sense of purpose and point out that “there will always be situations that cannot be changed
and this is where psychological resilience plays a critical role”. They believe that most employees
have an inherent need to contribute to an organisation or larger entity with the following in place:

1. clarity of expectations and basic materials and equipment being provided.

2. important that employees feel they are contributing to the organisation. This is where person-
   organisation fit comes in. In most situations, their needs and that of the organisation can be
   filled simultaneously

3. a sense of belonging to something beyond oneself is an important element of employee
   engagement and a basic human need

4. opportunities to discuss their work progress and grow can help with intellectual wellbeing

Organisational benefits of wellbeing

         “The biggest driver for introducing wellbeing programmes is the performance dividend that
         results from sustainable wellbeing at work. People who feel well will perform well” Professor

The data indicates that workplaces with engaged employees, on average, do a better job of keeping
employees, satisfying customers, and being financially productive and profitable. Workplace
wellbeing and performance are not independent. Rather, they are complementary and dependent
components of a financially and psychologically healthy workplace.

It has been said that “in order to ensure success of an organisation it cannot be denied that
the organisation „engine‟ which is the employee must be focussed. This „engine‟ must be
serviced accordingly to ensure that they will give their best. Employees whose needs are not
fulfilled by the organisation always demonstrate their dissatisfaction by performing below
their actual ability”

According to Professor Mowbray, “the relationship between individual wellbeing and personal
performance is well established. In the main, people who feel well perform better than those who
feel ill”.

Wellbeing is as much a personal perception of wellness as it is an objective assessment. Individuals
have different thresholds of tolerance of physical and mental ill health. One person‟s pressure is
another person‟s stress. One person‟s sense of hopelessness may be another‟s trigger for new
found energy. Much depends on the psychological resilience that individuals possess within

    Derek Mowbray (2009)The wellbeing and performance agenda

themselves that they can draw on in times of challenge. Even the strength of resilience will depend
on personal mood and vary during periods of ill health and wellbeing.

The idea of wellbeing is personal and private. One person may say they are well when they are
displaying signs of being ill. Another may disguise their illness to such an extent that people around
them think they are well.

A culture that condones excessively long working hours will promote the context for individuals to
feel guilty about working normal hours and effectively force them to work long hours. Given the
amount of time people spend at work, “it becomes a place that should provide the ingredients to
make individuals feel fulfilled. The ingredients will be different for different people and may include:
strengthening social relationships, meeting challenges, relaxing with humour, working in teams or
groups, earning money.”

Feeling well at work optimises the opportunities to be fulfilled and feeling unwell diminishes the
opportunities. Feeling fulfilled adds significantly to feeling well. Our perception of our own wellbeing
at work influences our sense of wellbeing outside of work and the other way round. If we have a
strong sense of wellbeing at work it raises our resilience against adverse events outside work; the
reverse is also the case i.e. strong sense of wellbeing outside work raises our resilience against
adverse events in work

        The kind of action that is needed includes: constructing environments that promote
       wellbeing; forging social relationships that are supportive in times of crisis; being active in
       building physical health; building spiritual wellbeing for those who seek explanations beyond
       the rational and emotional

Wellbeing; what a good job looks like

       I think what really makes a difference is the level of support you have available to you in
       your workplace. I have worked in a department where it felt like more senior colleagues
       were simply “offloading” work and providing very little support, encouragement or
       recognition. It has been a huge boost for me to join a new organisation where roles are
       more clearly defined; where support/encouragement is the norm and where positive
       feedback towards you in your career is part of the work culture. in this sense, what can
       really make the difference in what can be a hugely demanding profession, is a clear sense of
       purpose and direction backed up by support; not only colleagues of a similar level but from
       every level of management as well (Teacher in Robertson Cooper 2010)

According to Professor Mowbray, as well as promoting wellbeing though programmes, employers
can invest in a culture of wellbeing: “In building a culture of wellbeing and performance the
features need to be those that promote commitment, trust, engagement, and a strong
psychological contract- the idiosyncratic unwritten contract that individuals have between
themselves and their organisation based on personal notions of fairness”. He says that wellbeing
should never be seen as a quick fix!

In the research from Northern Ireland cited above, teachers, when asked about their preferred
interventions to promote a healthier working environment expressed the following preference, in

      stress reduction/healthier lifestyles courses provided during working hours
      annual review of health and wellbeing via a questionnaire and specific programmes
       staff welfare and occupational health services providing advice and consultation

Wellbeing programmes

According to Worklife Support, 80% of blue chip companies have employee assistance programmes.
“They do this because in every case where research has been carried such programmes save
money, reduce absenteeism, improve employees‟ sense of motivation and their own wellbeing and
reduce staff turnover”

See the attached Brighter Futures article on the school effectiveness survey tool, WorkWell, which
can be used to diagnose staff perceptions

Research conducted on behalf of Worklife Support has argued that while school pupils‟
results can be seen as a good indicator of how well a teacher is doing their job, it is
accepted that there are other factors, outside a teacher‟s control, which also impact on
pupils‟ performance in exams. As well as influences external to the school, these factors
include contribution by others in a department or school as a whole. Here it is important to
focus on the collective wellbeing of teams in schools.

Chicken or egg!

Most research tends to assume that wellbeing affects performance rather than the other
way round. However, the authors in the above Worklife Support report believe it equally
plausible that people‟s effective performance may enhance their wellbeing. This may also be
the case across teams and organisations. “Individuals within teams or organisations that are
performing well in terms of, for example, effectiveness or profitability, and who receive
feedback about this performance are likely to be affected by such feedback".

Impact on school standards

The above report speculates the impact of teacher wellbeing on pupils, i.e. teacher
wellbeing affects teacher behaviour which in turn affects pupil behaviour. They suggest two
possible pathways:

   The teacher experiencing more enthusiasm and excitement may be more persistent and
    focussed in their efforts to encourage particular pupils who are having difficulties; in turn
    those pupils make greater effort or overcome their problems more effectively

    A teacher who feels bored and unenthusiastic while teaching may invoke feelings of
    boredom in pupils which in turn affects the attention and effort pupils make when
    engaging in learning.

In their conclusions, the authors state:

       “There is significant relation between the indices of wellbeing of teachers and SATS
        in 2004 and 2005 and a significant relation with the „value-added‟ measure”. While
        92% of the variation in SATS is explained by other factors, 8% of the variation is
        accounted for by teacher wellbeing.

      For secondary schools, “there is a significant relationship between the wellbeing
       variables and the following measures of school performance: KS4 Results-
       percentage achieving Level 2 (5+ grades A to C) and value added measure based on
       progress between KS2 and KS4”

The findings do suggest clear links between how teachers within a school feel about their
work and the performance of pupils in that school. The major implication of the findings
according to the authors is that “if we want to improve school performance, we also need to
start paying attention to teacher wellbeing. How teachers feel on an everyday basis is likely
to affect their performance and so, in turn, the performance of the pupils they teach”. While
the 8% variation in SATS scores difference made through teacher wellbeing may be small, it
is significant because, according to the authors, this aspect of the school may be more
amenable to intervention and change than other factors known to strongly affect SATS
scores such as social class.

The authors point to a possibility of a virtuous circle i.e. increases in teacher wellbeing
leading to improvements in the performance of pupils and increases in pupil performance
leading to increased wellbeing of teachers. They also point to a downward spiral i.e.
reduction in teacher wellbeing leading to poorer pupil results which in turn leads to a further
drop in teacher wellbeing and so on.

“What employees want is to feel good”

Professor Robertson has pointed out that at the heart of employees feeling good is their
psychological wellbeing (PWB). This has a number of benefits for the organisation as well as
the employees. For example, when change is taking place, people with lower PWB tend to
see it as negative and threatening; they struggle to cope with negative feedback as they are
easily hurt. On the other hand people with higher levels of PWB are more positive; they
learn and problem-solve more effectively and accept change more readily. Overall,
organisations do better when people within them have a high PWB.

Referring to a study which involved 8000 business units, we are told that
engagement/wellbeing was linked to their performance, predicting customer satisfaction,
productivity, profitability, employee turnover and sickness/absence levels. Another area
which benefits from high levels of organisational PWB is the reputation of the organisation.
In a world where people are seeing PWB and work-life balance as important, this can help
to recruit the best of the talent pool.

Robertson reminds us that, given its dynamic nature, PWB “ebbs and flows”. People have a
reservoir of PWB which needs to be replenished as situations and people draw from it
through their demands and can damage the PWB. Although he accepts that some people
are more resilient than others and that people‟s PWB is damaged or enhanced by different
things, he does accept that “no one can go on for long without replenishing their reservoir”.

So how can employees be enabled to feel good and replenish their PWB reservoir? The
challenge lies with the senior leadership, given that in an organisation where people are
committed, engaged and enthusiastic, there is a co-incidence between behaviour required
by the organisation and the things that make people feel good. There is also a clear role for
line managers who are responsible for the day-to-day management of the employees.

He goes onto stress the importance for organisations to understand the causes and effects
involved in producing these outcomes and for them to take all reasonable action to achieve
and maintain them. “At the heart of all of these initiatives is a requirement for the
organisation to build a workforce that is highly engaged and working positively in ways that
are aligned with the goals and mission of the organisation.”


There is no higher calling; without teachers society would slide back into primitive squalor
Ted Wragg

Have we lost this higher perspective of teaching and turned it into simply a technical
function? What do we need to do to create greater respect for the profession, vocation, and

It has been said that equality is about being fair, diversity is about respecting difference and
spirituality is the “acceptance and valuing the whole person”. Spirituality, as in the need for
meaning and value is an integral part of a person‟s wellbeing.

Spirituality is often confused with being religious. So people can often dismiss it by saying
„we are not religious so spirituality is not for us‟. Although it overlaps with religion, it is much
more. It has to do with how we define ourselves, view the world, seek meaning and
purpose, relate to others and make ethical and moral decisions. It is said to be concerned
with substance rather than image and is more inclusive than religion. It could be said that
„all are spiritual, only some are religious‟.

The NCSL report „Reservoirs of Hope‟ is helpful in this context as it talks about the wider,
„secular spirituality: whatever it is that gives the individual their foundations of ethical
behaviour and bases of belief‟. The report found that some of the interviewed headteachers‟
motivation was based on religious spirituality while for others it was their secular
motivations which drove them and enabled them to survive and thrive in their work.

According to the report, their spirituality, whatever its origins enabled them to act as the
guardian of the vision of the school and as a consistent exponent of its value system not
only on a day-to-day basis but when faced with critical situations: “(they) all recognised the
importance of spiritual and moral leadership in their headship role”. When talking about
what sustained them, alongside support networks, and hobbies and interests, the
headteachers spoke of relying on their belief networks, including self-belief in the rightness
of their underlying value system.

I am not aware of any research on how spiritual teachers are other than to know from the
Northern Ireland research cited above that 41% had resorted to prayer/church when coping
with stress. In terms of balancing their lives, the NCSL report talks about the headteachers
having 6 wells which need to be topped up to the right level: intellectual, physical,
emotional, spiritual, creative and social.

A man is walking along the road and sees a stonemason working. He stops to admire the
smooth blocks of stone, and the stonemason stops working to have a break and pass the
time of day. The man asks “What are you doing?” The stonemason answers, “I come here
every morning and work until nightfall, cutting stones for my master. It pays the bills, so I
cannot complain.” The man bids him farewell and continues on his journey.

Further along the road he meets another stonemason. This one is working flat out and had
a much larger pile of stones beside him. The man asks: “What are you doing?” The
stonemason answers, “Sorry, I cannot stop to talk. I am paid according to the number of
stones I cut each day, so I must get on.” So the man bids him farewell and continues on his

Further long the road he meets a third stonemason, who has an even larger and very well
cut pile of stones beside him. The man asks, “What are you doing?” The stonemason
answers, “If you look behind you can see the foundations of the Cathedral we‟re building.
I‟m responsible for the stones in the arch above the west door. I want my grandchildren‟s
grandchildren to be able to look up and see what I have made, so I have to make sure that
every stone is worthy of posterity.”

Why bother with spirituality?

A spiritual organization provides meaningful work that instils a feeling of purpose, that
fosters a sense of connection and positive social relations with co-workers, and that provides
workers with the ability to live integrated lives. However, in organizations that do not strive
to make the work they provide meaningful, individuals will be less likely to place any special
importance on their job.

Benefits of organisational spirituality are said to include:

       Release of human potential, such that staff bring their whole person to work, using
        their innate strengths of creativity and empathy in their working relationships

       Enhancement of a culture of service to other staff and the organisation, rather than
        competition and undermining

       Staff find meaning in the workplace which leads to improved personal job
        satisfaction, lower rates of stress and absenteeism

       Improved performance with lower rates of staff turnover and better recruitment. “It
        is now widely accepted that those organisations which have a „spiritually- friendly‟
        culture, show universally lower than average rates of absenteeism, workplace stress
        and staff turnover”...Thus workplace spirituality is not just good for the „soul‟ but is
        also good for the workplace itself.

Spiritual wellbeing

        A dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing and not
        merely the absence of disease or infirmity. (WHO‟s proposed definition)

It is said that in the past when health services barely existed, people relied on their
spirituality. Now that we have such services, is there a danger in forgetting people‟s

Honest reflective practice could help teachers to find out things about themselves, sometime
to see themselves as others, colleagues and students, see them.

Sadly, there is insufficient time for teachers to reflect on their practice. According to VITAE,
“the main dissatisfaction of rover 75% of the teachers was with the time available to reflect
on their teaching and to learn from colleagues”. This was supported by Bubb in her research
for TDA. She also found that there were insufficient opportunities to reflect: “respondents
wanted more time to talk and to reflect on their own and others‟ practice, learning from
each other through coaching, observing and visiting other schools”

Spiritual well-being can be seen as a sense of being connected to something larger than
oneself. It is said to be an integral part of mental, emotional and physical health. It is
considered to be a primary coping resource in times of conflict and crisis.
Essentially, it is rooted in three key areas of: relationships, personal values and purpose in
life. Benefits of spiritual wellbeing are said to include: taking time to reflect and resolve life‟s
issues; maintaining balance and control of life and feeling purpose and meaning in life.

        A sense of good health about oneself as a human being and as a unique individual..
        It happens when people are fulfilling their potential as individuals and human beings.
        They are aware of their own dignity and value; they enjoy themselves and have a
        sense of direction; they can sense this quality in others and consequently respect
        and relate positively to them and they are at ease with the world around them

Spiritual care matters

“There is a growing body of evidence that stress, burnout, and the disenchantment of
professional carers with their work has its roots in issues more complex than pay and
conditions. Issues such as meaning, purpose, relationships and connectedness at work (the
very stuff of spirituality) are just as important as other matters, if not more so, in producing
a happy and contended workforce and an organisation that does its job well.

Staff who are appreciated and looked after, whose stress is recognised and acknowledged
are much more likely to recognise what is troubling people they work with and to have
resources to bring comfort.

Spiritual wellbeing brings a sense of good feeling about oneself as a human being and as a
unique individual. It happens when people are fulfilling their potential as individual human

In order to allay any fears about spiritual care provision the Scottish Government Health
Department expects the work should: be impartial, accessible and available to persons of all
faiths/belief communities and those who have no faith; function on the basis of respect for
the wide range of lifestyles and cultural backgrounds; and value diversity; never be imposed
or used to proselytise.

A chaplaincy service for schools?

A number of organisational contexts rely on chaplaincy services. These include, the Prison
Service, Hospitals, and Armed Forces etc. In education, some schools and colleges have a
chaplain, generally for pupils. Are there staff needs in Birmingham schools which could be
best addressed through such a chaplaincy service?

Given that spiritual wellbeing “enhances and integrates all other dimensions of health,
including the physical, mental, emotional and social (and) denotes a sense of connection to
something larger than oneself, providing a sense of awe, wonder, meaning, purpose and
personal value”, perhaps this is where the answer lies. As well as their need to be treated
holistically, teachers, like the third stonemason above, need to be enabled to believe in what
they do by being reassured that their work has significance.

Would Ofsted accountability help?

Often, practices in our schools are prioritised according to whether it is something which is
valued by Ofsted. A few years ago, in a publication from the then Department for Education
and Skills6, it was recommended:

       “that DfES investigates the possibility of developing work on teachers‟ emotional and
       social competence and wellbeing within the Ofsted inspection framework and criteria,
       both for schools and teacher education establishments ”

Would that make a difference to bring this issue higher up the schools‟ agenda?

 Weare K and Gray G What works in developing children’s emotional and social competence and
wellbeing? 2003

   Article from Brighter Futures

Staff perceptions of school effectiveness and well-being

As a local authority, we recognise the importance of schools listening to their staff for their
perceptions of the school‟s effectiveness. To help with this, nationally there are a number of
toolkits and questionnaires. Here in Birmingham, we have also produced our own diagnostic
tool which enables schools to identify their needs and issues. It requires all staff to complete
a questionnaire which usually takes 15 minutes. A report is then produced. Confidential to
the school, the report helps to flag up how effective the school is in the following areas:

       Communication

       Engagement and control

       Management

       Personal well-being

       School climate

       Work-life balance

Once the school knows what issues have been raised through the questionnaire, it can
decide appropriate action and intervention. There is a similar questionnaire for pupils which
gives them an opportunity to let the school know their views on a range of areas including
teaching and learning, behaviour and ethos and climate. The cost of Work-Well is £150
which enables the school to use the tool for one year.

As a part of its wider strategy in this area, School Effectiveness has produced a 10 point
plan for consultation, which been shared with the Professional Associations. This includes a
discussion paper on the importance of staff resilience and well-being to school effectiveness.
This will show a clear link exists between staff wellbeing and school effectiveness.

Contact: Karamat Iqbal, Lead Officer: Staff Resilience and Well-being


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