Having shared values and vision across your educational setting will help you to embed a culture of wellbeing in your school or college and help protect the mental health of staff and students. There’s been a lot of uncertainty over the year or so, due to COVID-19. The threat of another lockdown, though unlikely, is still present and lingering in the background.This may be negatively impacting the mental health of both students and staf fon top of other pressures they are under on a day-to-day basis.

What are values?

Values are important frames of reference linked to our sense of self and therefore shape our behaviours. Values are linked to the goals we set,how attractive or not we find these goals and how we go about achieving them. Our values can guide us towards our goals.

Values are freely chosen. The more we align our gaols to our values, the more likely we are to achieve them. Think about whether the school values you have are attractive, whether they are easy for people to align themselves to – the easier this is then the easier buy-in will be when you need to implement change. For example, if one of your school values is wellbeing for all and everyone has aligned themselves to this then you won’t come across as much resistance when developing a culture of wellbeing in your school or college.

Why are values so important for wellbeing?

As well as overcoming resistance to change within an organisation, values are important at an individual level. Those whose personal values are consistent with commonly shared values of a caring profession experience lower burnout and higher personal wellbeing.  Teaching is a profession notorious for high levels of stress and burnout. Developing a shared culture and values for school wellbeing can help lower levels of stress and reduce risk of burnout. Staff who feel valued and enjoy high levels of wellbeing are in a stronger position to support children and young people with their learning and developing their wellbeing.

Is wellbeing visible in your school or college?

Can you see wellbeing around the place? Can you feel it? We’re not talking about a poster stuck on a toilet door, but inspiring messages from pupils and students themselves, the school community looking after one another: school values that are lived and felt, not just laminated. Does your school recognise strengths within individuals to help them feel more valued? Do staff and students feel valued, understood, empowered, and trusted? These are all important questions to reflect on to support the overall development of your whole school culture of wellbeing.

How can you develop values in your school or college?

What is your compelling vision for your school or college mental health and wellbeing? Think about who can help you set and work towards goals that align with your vision and values. Listen to your students as well as your staff and other stakeholders – strategic use of student and pupil voice can be beneficial in driving change. Find the right team of people and, together, consider your existing school values. As a team, do you need to revisit these values to align with your vision?

At Worth-it we’re passionate about helping children and young people, and those who work with them to flourish. We have developed the SMHL leadership and development course for members of our Wellbeing Club . This course is designed to support Senior Mental Health Leads develop an embedded culture and ethos of wellbeing. One module of this course specifically focuses on the area we’ve discussed in this article, offering even more support on how to develop shared vision and values for a culture of wellbeing.

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