87% of teachers have reported increased anxiety levels as a result of the challenges posed by the pandemic, research found.

By now, and particularly after the ravages of a global pandemic, organisations are more aware than ever that fostering employee wellbeing creates positive working environments, even in challenging situations, and has benefits for everyone in any organisation. This has been particularly true of the Education sector in recent years where the pressures of delivering quality education to our young people has been severely impacted.

Research conducted on the education workforce shows stark findings. The NASUWT Teachers Union Survey of March 2021 found that 87% have experienced anxiety; 79% have suffered from loss of sleep and 2% have even self-harmed, so severe was the impact on their mental health and wellbeing during the covid crisis.  

These findings clearly display a need for solutions that centre around a fully inclusive support experience that’s focussed on the whole person, not just on professional development.

In a space where the recovery of the nation as a whole weighs heavy, this survey, and others like it which showed similar pressures, clearly suggests our young people and those who support them need help to overcome the ravages of the pandemic.

Members of the primarily front-facing teaching community who are members of the UCU also reported an upturn in their workload in excess of 20% and 3 out of 4 reported an increase in their levels of stress and anxiety. In a sector already stretched even pre-pandemic, these numbers should be ringing alarm bells.

A strategic approach to coaching

Education Scotland, a Scottish Government executive agency charged with supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education, has achieved positive results in supporting the education workforce in Scotland.

With a goal to deliver better learning experiences and outcomes for Scottish learners of all ages, they set about developing their national strategy for coaching in education in Scotland, driven by an increased commitment to coaching as a model of practice across the whole education workforce.

Education Scotland’s strategic approach highlighted what educators have long known - that teachers need time and space to think strategically in a less narrow context than just their own subject or area of expertise.

As part of their workforce support strategy Education Scotland identified one to one coaching as a solution to mitigate some of the pressures their people are facing in a way that would not only alleviate the problems in an immediate sense, but also provide long-lasting solutions to overwork, increased pressure and anxiety were required. Their ultimate goal was to provide every practitioner with the opportunity to be coached and to build coaching into their current development and safeguarding strategies.

Working with purpose-driven coaching provider Know You More and their community of accredited coaches, they designed and delivered tailored programmes to support education staff in better managing their and their team’s wellbeing, developing the resilience necessary to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by fast-paced change.

Tim Mart, CEO and co-founder of Know You More said:

We've worked with the Education sector for several years now, but COVID has really highlighted the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. Staff in the sector have worked tirelessly during lockdown with many taking on heavier workloads in order to ensure students don't shoulder the burden on their own. This has pushed the sector to near crisis point, a situational that's clearly unsustainable.

Through the use of our coaching platform, our coaching clients have been able to alleviate some of that pressure, ensuring that their staff can continue to deliver for their students and at an organisational level.

Beyond the individual benefits

The results achieved through this partnership are extremely positive. By implementing an approach that focussed on wider reaching wellbeing benefits, post coaching evaluations highlighted a significant increase in participant’s confidence in their ability to manage their own health and wellbeing, as well as that of their teams. Coachees reported that their confidence in managing the challenges and leveraging the opportunities of the pandemic also increased after coaching. By working with a coaching provider who reinvests resources in the development of young adults, Education Scotland has been able to directly make an impact beyond their own staff, contributing towards free coaching and coaching skills training for young adults from all backgrounds.

Understanding the benefits of coaching as a whole person approach, delivers a more meaningful experience for individuals as they grow and develop. The skills developed during coaching programmes go far beyond increased productivity, and include building a toolkit of strategies that can improve wellbeing in every aspect of a coachee’s life.

Those positive outcomes can only serve to build a stronger and more resilient and aware workforce at all levels, from teachers to education leaders.