By Chanel Worsteling, AISA Child Protection & Wellbeing Programme Manager
The goal of AISA’s Wellbeing for All programme is to, ‘Promote model child protection and wellbeing practice in member schools so that students, staff and families feel safe, supported and able to flourish.’
The research overwhelmingly indicates that improving student wellbeing not only improves social-emotional adjustment, behavioural adjustment and cognitive adjustment, but also improves academic outcomes . And integral to student wellbeing is staff wellbeing.
With AISA already committed to Wellbeing for All, our first task was to look for programmes and professional development opportunities that could support member schools in their effort to promote staff wellbeing. AISA’s partnership with NESLI enabled us to offer member schools the opportunity to provide a flexible staff wellbeing programme that could benefit all staff. Not only is the online toolkit designed to improve staff wellbeing, but importantly it seeks to impact school level wellbeing by improving social capital.
Ten member schools implemented the Online Staff Wellbeing Toolkit impacting over 100 participating staff. A significant advantage of the programme is that it is self-paced and internally managed, meaning that each school could choose how best to implement the programme in accordance to its unique context and needs. With a number of schools operating remotely for much of the year, some schools were still able to implement the programme, with groups also meeting online, or a mix of online and on-campus. Groups could also decide when to meet and how often and adapt this to the school schedule.
To support schools in implementing the programme, AISA’s Graham Watts and Chanel Worsteling met with Toolkit facilitators to review each module, debrief learning’s and provide additional resources. A key goal of the Wellbeing Practice Group was to ensure that facilitators felt they had a community to connect to and to support their wellbeing by making the facilitation task less burdensome.
One of the most positive aspects of the programme was the opportunity to bring together faculty from across a whole school. One of the Toolkit facilitators, who is also a school counsellor, commented that, “‘The programme built camaraderie among divisions and made some people who I don’t work with daily feel more comfortable to reach out to me.” Another commented that, “The group has become connected, that personal touch has unified the group and now group members can reach out to each other …to express whatever they are experiencing deep down, they have support.”
In addition to providing a place for staff to connect, another outcome of the programme was that it gave staff language to talk about their experience, particularly in this COVID-19 impacted year. “Some teachers have become more confident in talking about their wellbeing and talking to others about their experience.”
AISA is taking an evidenced-based approach to our Wellbeing for All programme, being deliberate about measuring and monitoring the impact of our programme. Prior to implementation, all participants completed two measures of wellbeing, the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and the Workplace Social Capital Questionnaire. These measures are used to provide a baseline, and evaluate what impact, if any, the programme had on participants. Though post-programme data is not yet available, we know that participant wellbeing at the outset of the programme was mostly average or high. Given the impact of COVID, we do not anticipate the programme to have improved outcome data, but we are confident that participation was nonetheless positive.
AISA is continuing to gather evaluation data from participating schools, using the data to implement improvements so that next year’s participating schools can support their staff wellbeing.
The Association of International Schools in Africa is dedicated to serving its members throughout Africa during this challenging time. Please let us know if you require additional or specific information, resources and or support, and we will endeavour to assist you as soon as possible.