Why is the HSE carrying out these inspections? What are the employer's health and safety-related responsibilities for work-related stress management?
The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) identifies the responsibility of the employer to manage the health, safety, and welfare of their staff.
This includes work-related stress management, which is identified in the Health and Safety Executives ‘Management Standards.’ It creates a framework for managing work-related stress.
And the first place to start is in your policy.
Your school or Trust having stress management and staff wellbeing in your health and safety policy or, if preferable, separated into a separate stress management policy, It automatically creates a resource to identify what you will manage, how you will manage it and who in the school/Trust will hold delegated responsibilities to manage work-related stress.
This will inform a wellbeing strategy to detail how you will implement these provisions on a practical level.
Risk Assessments and Support Frameworks
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires us to carry out a risk assessment for any hazards that pose a risk to staff. We often find work-related stress isn’t something staff in schools generally think of as a hazard. Where schools are used to considering how working at height or hiking on an educational visit could harm a member of staff, it is not always a regular process to review how stress caused by work can have detrimental effects on staff when not suitably managed.
Implementing a whole-school, work-related stress management risk assessment, this will set out the control measures in place to support every member of staff to avoid unmanageable stress in normal working circumstances.
Should an individual member of staff then raise concerns or issues, a bespoke stress management risk assessment can be completed to build upon the existing control measures in place to create a tailored support plan for them, specific to their situation and work requirements.
Training for SLT and All staff
Schools/Trusts are required to provide suitable training, instruction, and supervision/support to staff under the HSWA.
In a work-related stress and wellbeing context, this can be in the form of:
- Stress management training for all staff to ensure they are aware of the signs of stress, good techniques to self-manage and how to request support or assistance if they are not coping.
- Neo People Management and Judicium offer bespoke school-based eLearning modules designed specifically for all staff. For more information on this course please click here
- Management Training to ensure that any member of staff in a line management capacity has the skills and tools to support their staff as needed. This will include the skills to understand when a situation escalates beyond local school management and professional external help is required.
- Neo People Management and Judicium offer bespoke school-based eLearning modules designed specifically for SLT. For more information on this course please click here
- Specialist support training – Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) are an excellent resource to have available within your school. They are available as a neutral point of support for staff who require additional assistance and tare able to:
- approach staff to support them
- listen and communicate non-judgementally
- give emotional support and practical support
- encourage professional help and other support networks when identified as appropriate
NB: For clarification, MHFAs are not councillors or mental health professionals.
In 2021, the Department for Education published a Wellbeing Charter schools can sign up to which allows them to demonstrate in a tangible way how they will manage staff wellbeing at work.
It allows a school to show their commitment to stress management and mental health-related support to:
Show staff that you take their wellbeing seriously
Open a conversation with staff about their wellbeing and mental health
Create a staff wellbeing strategy
Create a wellbeing-focused culture
The charter sets out three key areas: DfE, OFSTED and the School/Trust.
The commitments the Department for Education will implement when shaping policy include:
- designing a wellbeing policy
- supporting the sector to drive down unnecessary workload
- ensure DfE guidance meets user needs
- breaking down the stigma around mental health
- ensuring wellbeing training, support and resources are embedded in all aspects of professional development
The 3 commitments from OFSTED include:
- Reassurance that inspectors will take staff wellbeing into account when reaching judgements
- It will review whether the framework is having inadvertent impacts on staff wellbeing
- It will continue to avoid additional administrative workloads that can come from creating documentation specifically for inspection
The 11 Point commitment from your organisation when joining the Wellbeing Charter
In return, your school or Trust will commit to the below 11 points as part of the charter.
- Your school/Trust will prioritise staff mental health by embedding it into all aspects of daily working life.
- Provide staff the support they need to take responsibility for their wellbeing and that of others, including access to resources, training and sign posting for support.
- Give managers access to the tools and resources they need to support staff they line manage.
- For instance, management level training for stress management
- Mental health support so managers know how to utilise the resources provided, e.g., MHFA has a specific line managers guidebook for trained staff.
- Establish a clear communications policy and review it within the staff committee to ensure input is included from different roles as well as SLT.
- Give staff a voice in decision-making by utilising committees and work groups.
- Drive down unnecessary workload using tools such as the Educational Work Reduction toolkit.
- Champion and enable flexible working with appraisal reviews and workload reviews specific to individual roles and circumstances.
- Create a good behaviour culture which can be reflected by celebrating achievements and best practices shared between colleagues.
- This feeds directly into a positive H&S culture of looking after everyone at work.
- This feeds directly into a positive H&S culture of looking after everyone at work.
- Help support staff progress in their careers by embedding wellbeing into staff professional development.
- Include a sub-strategy for protecting leader wellbeing and mental health.
- Be held accountable by measuring staff wellbeing through surveys and ongoing review.
How can I ensure the right support across the whole school/Trust?
At Judicium we often see, when it comes to consistent support across the whole workplace, one of the key areas requiring improvement is direct support for senior leadership teams, specifically Heads, Deputy Heads and Governors.
It is essential the school or Trust recognises this and enables senior leaders to not only give their staff permission to look after themselves but apply that same care to themselves.
There is a fantastic range of resources available for free from MIND, the DfE and HSE amongst others to help you create the framework to embed staff wellbeing into everyday work across all teams.
In addition, external help is a vital way of ensuring a consistent approach to support that identifies when confidential external support or specialist assistance is required. This can be through an Employee Support Program, counselling services or mental health professional access.
As a management team, you can review the following to think about how you can support staff wellbeing immediately:
Set boundaries for your work/life balance from the management team across to all staff groups.
Support others who are struggling and help staff to recognise when colleagues require this support.
Politely challenge when an initiative or task is in opposition to wellbeing ideals to keep wellbeing at the centre of every process.
Discuss how school leaders can expand on a culture of wellbeing this year and be role models for a good work/life balance.
The Health and Safety Service is also providing accredited training courses, including live Stress Management. For more information on upcoming courses, please click here.
To review Judicium’s forthcoming sofa sessions please click here.
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Mind Charity work related links:
MHFA England Workplace Support