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  • Writer's pictureHayley Yendell

Roots Federation: An Active Approach to Reducing Workload and Enhancing Well-being

Updated: May 1

Introduction

There is no doubt that the current picture in education is bleak; significant recruitment challenges, treacherous budget cuts and experienced, early years staff leaving the profession in droves. It is against this backdrop that the leadership team at Roots Federation reviewed what we could do to ensure the well-being of our employees. We are all aware that a healthy and content workforce leads to a happy workplace. In education this leads ultimately to a school where families feel welcome and children can thrive. Finding ways to reduce workload while boosting well-being is a win-win situation for both employees and employers. In this blog, we'll share strategies that have been successful for the Nursery Schools in our Federation in creating a harmonious place for all.


Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements


A long time ago we removed what our staff informed us were ‘burdensome tasks’ that had no impact on children’s progress. We removed the creation of learning journals (what a labour of love they were!) and removed the requirement for written observations. We asked for a weekly plan to be presented in note form on one page and we organised resources so that staff could easily grab a bags with everything they needed including a support card with ideas of how to teach concepts in a range of ways. We never rest on our laurels though and are constantly reviewing what we are asking our staff to do. Regular opportunities for staff to feedback allows us to continually refine practices and keep interactions with children as our greatest priority.


Clear Communication Strategy


There can be nothing more confusing/worrying/annoying than hearing a planned change or an upcoming task through whispers in the staffroom or worst still from the one crafty member of staff who always seems to be in the right place at the right time and always seems to know what the SLT are planning! A culture of open communication is essential for a harmonious workplace. At Roots Federation we use a range of mediums to communicate with staff to meet the preferred communication styles of all staff; weekly staff newsletter, regular WhatsApp’s, 1:1 supervisions and weekly face to face briefings. These also allow staff to feedback very regularly and discuss concerns, challenges and queries. When employees feel well informed and heard, they are more likely to remain engaged and committed, leading to enhanced well-being.


Investment in Professional Development


Providing opportunities for professional development not only benefits employees' career growth but also reduces the feeling of stagnation that can contribute to feelings of unrest in the workplace. We offer a universal training program of monthly recorded sessions that can be watched at a convenient time for all alongside team teaching and / or ‘in the moment coaching’ with senior staff. We also promote training that meets individual needs and have seen many staff arrive with us unqualified and are now level 3’s, qualified teachers and chefs! Making our staff aware that we care about their development and are willing time invest in then has been highly motivating for some staff. When individuals see a clear path for growth, they are more likely to approach their work with enthusiasm and dedication.


Impact


In the most recent staff survey over 94% of staff reported that they were happy in their role. After reading an interesting tweet from Dora Vanourek we recently asked staff ‘If you were to resign right now, what would be your reasons?’ The overwhelming majority responded that ‘They could not think of a reason right now. A smaller minority reported that they would like a higher salary- absolutely understandable when you look at the payscales for support staff in education.

At Roots Federation we have created an environment in our schools that prioritises well-being while reducing workload leading to long-term success. By embracing flexible work arrangements, reducing paperwork, promoting open communication and investing in professional development, we have established an amazing, committed staff team who consistently go above and beyond to ensure that we consistently deliver on our promise of ‘Educational Excellence for All.’


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