It was standing room only at this excellent EIS wellbeing event that took place in Glasgow on 13 January.

The highlight for many was the outstanding presentation by Sinead McBrearty, the CEO of Education Support UK, a charity whose mission is to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff, because it understands that better mental health leads to better education.

The charity supports individuals and helps schools, colleges and universities to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. They also carry out research and advocate for changes in Government policy for the benefit of the education workforce.

A key message in Sinead’s presentation was a warning against hierarchical, top-down managerialism by senior leaders, which she explained is very damaging to teacher wellbeing. Referring to teachers as education’s “most precious finite resource”, she called on senior leaders to “review, stop and drop” tasks that they are demanding of staff much more regularly, in order to protect that precious resource. She called on leaders to self-evaluate more thoroughly and bravely by running staff surveys, taking the messages from them on board and empowering their staff.

Teacher wellbeing should be the top priority “ahead of everything” because other priorities such as attainment will never see genuine and sustainable improvement without teachers’ health being secure and thriving.

Sinead’s message chimes with the EIS’s long-standing demand for genuine teacher empowerment in schools, and echoes the famous insight by management consultant and writer Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

If the culture in your workplace is not right, she said, change will come through collective action. Coming together to fight together is good for our health. As Sinead said in her conclusion, quoting Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can with what you have where you are.”


Practical Tools for Enhancing Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

The aim of our Stand Up for Quality Education campaign is to significantly improve teachers’ working conditions and health, safety and wellbeing at work. This workshop gave delegates an opportunity to examine and evaluate the current health and safety structures and provision within their settings, highlight and share areas of good practice, and consider how health and safety legislation can be used as an organising tool in branches.

Taking Care of our Whole Selves at Work: An Intersectional Lens on Workplace Stress and Wellbeing

This workshop considered the interrelatedness of our lived experience on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and encouraged a reframing towards a collective and trauma-sensitive approach that is rooted in compassion towards ourselves and others.

Building a Collective Voice for Wellbeing

This workshop explored Health and Wellbeing in the context of our Stand Up for Quality Education campaign and highlighted the positive steps members can take to improve their working environment. There was practical advice on how to improve H&WB with a focus on improving mental health and tackling the structural issues that are the cause of many H&WB issues in establishments.

Health and Wellbeing in the Classroom

We know teachers’ wellbeing is central to student wellbeing and we all deserve work that brings purpose and joy to our lives. Our communities need schools to be happy, healthy places. It has never been more important for teaching to be seen as an attractive and valued profession and the classroom as a place where you can thrive. Yet the experience of too many of our members tells a different story.

This workshop looked at the importance of empowerment and teacher agency in changing the culture in our schools and explored different ways in which we can work together to improve wellbeing and consequently, the learning environment for children and young people.