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There is some evidence nationally that there is a correlation between staff wellbeing and student achievement (Worklife Support on the Relation Between Well-Being and Climate in Schools and Pupil Performance, Dr. Chris Dewberry and Professor Rob B Briner, Birkbeck College, May 2007). I would recommend exploring it within your own school. Can you relate classroom staff attitude to pupil performance in your own experience?

Staff do not feel comfortable talking to students about eating disorders.

Meanwhile, Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said school budgets were at “breaking point.”

Focus groups lasted between 40 min and an hour. As participants discussed their experiences of eating disorders in school, five key themes emerged:

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In fact, 2012 doesn't seem to have been much of a year for the morale of staff in schools, generally.

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Parents, literacy experts, trade unions, teachers and librarians have spoken out against initiative being trialled by the Scottish Borders council

After conducting its own survey, ASCL reported that "Governing bodies . . . need to take account of the wellbeing of their staff". So, how can an individual school tackle something so basic as morale and wellbeing? Is 'being nice to each other', as advocated by one union representative recently, enough?

Consider reviewing the school's practices to enable best performance. For example, a large secondary school found that cutting the hours required of staff in school actually increased efficiency. Another school banned managers from sending emails to staff on Sunday evenings. Shifting the lesson-change signal from a raucous bell to a civilised bleep (or even doing away with it altogether) can have a real impact on the school environment. Using texting and tweeting to communicate can ensure that all staff are kept informed and never feel left out of the loop – poor communication is one of those things that appears as a real downer in staff morale in all organisations.

Are staff comfortable handling mental health disclosures—are students comfortable making them?

“Our analysis of the Government’s figures now confirms what teachers and head teachers have been saying for the last two years: the cuts to education are damaging for children’s education," said Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union. 

Here are some guidelines and thoughts for developing staff wellbeing in school:

The concern that teaching students about eating disorders could lead to an increase in prevalence is well founded according to O’dea [29] and Yager [30] who both reported that when taught in the wrong way, eating disorders education could lead to a decrease in body satisfaction and an increase in eating disorders symptoms such as dietary restraint and purging. Further research is needed in this area as there is currently clear guidance as to what staff should not teach with regard to eating disorders, but little support about what and how it is appropriate to teach when it comes to the topic of eating disorders.

Strategies for developing positive relationships with parents of students with eating disorders.

Local parent Julie Caulfield said she and other parents were very concerned about the proposals.

The first after-school meeting of the wellbeing team included some hard truths. Each attendee had the opportunity to be honest about how they felt. It was clear that the changes I had implemented had caused staff a great deal of stress, but they were still keen to engage with further training and development. While I was part of the problem, I also wanted to be part of the solution.

Staff wellbeing – which, I take it, includes morale – may not be an exact science. But there is a strategic approach which can help to secure staff goodwill in an organisation that can improve outcomes significantly. Hundreds of schools throughout the UK are now taking staff wellbeing seriously, and most can report significant outcomes.

Prioritising staff happiness at work has led to a marked improvement in our school’s Ofsted grade – and a new harmony in the staffroom

Research from Cilip and the all-party parliamentary group on libraries in 2014 found that there had been a loss of 280 school librarians in England between 2012 and 2014, while the School Library Association has estimated that its numbers have shrunk by at least 1,000 members since 2006, as under-funded schools try to save money by cutting their librarians.

All of the ideas came from the wellbeing team – things they’d either heard from friends and colleagues, or discovered online. Now we also get suggestions from staff of initiatives they would like to see – a weekly fitness class after school is the latest one we’re acting on.

Nigel Gann is a school governor, an education consultant and a school wellbeing consultant (nigel.gann@hamdoneducation.co.uk) with Worklife Support. He manages the wellbeing website.

On Wednesday, an NUT poll of teachers found the proportion of teachers now describing morale as high or very high has dropped from 27% to 15%, with those going for low or very low rising from 42% to 55%. More than two-thirds of teachers said they felt professional morale had fallen since the last general election. Morale among academy teachers was notably poor, with 62% describing it as low or very low.

Does the school have eating disorder policies or procedures—if so are staff and/or students aware of them

When you're looking at staff morale, make sure you look at the whole staff spectrum. How the office staff, premises staff, classroom assistants, lunchtime supervisors feel about their work can be as important as how teachers behave for organisational morale. Everyone in an organisation needs to feel valued if they are to perform at their best.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Borders Council said that the council remains “committed to maintaining library services for our pupils”.

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There was a strong belief amongst the school staff interviewed that eating disorders are a problem that are prevalent in UK schools but that currently school staff are not well equipped to spot the warning signs or offer support. The lack of understanding of eating disorders by school staff referred to in this study of UK school staff is well documented worldwide in previous studies [12, 14, 15, 20], and a recent survey of over 800 UK school staff found that 40% of participants would not know how to respond if a pupil had a suspected eating disorder [16].

Losing Good Staff Secondary Schools

No, I’ve never talked about eating disorders or anything like that in the staff room. I wouldn’t dream of it. It just, you know, isn’t the done thing really. (Higher Level Teaching Assistant)

Do you know what elements of your school's operation are well thought of by staff, and which aren't? If not, why not?

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Eight focus groups took place either on school premises or in city centre conference facilities. School staff met in groups of 6–12 for one school period (this varied between 40 min and an hour). The researcher who facilitated all eight focus groups was selected because she had been trained in focus group processes, had previously carried out consultation with school staff and students about eating disorders so was familiar with the topics to be covered and was an experienced school governor so was able to relate to participants and quickly make them feel at ease. The researcher ensured the discussion was kept on track and that all participants contributed as equally as possible to the discussion. A second researcher attended each focus group to ensure all questions were posed, additionally, they took notes and reported the general impression of each interview [17]. The focus groups followed a semi-structured format with the lead researcher using the topic guide to generate discussion whilst taking care to allow relevant conversation to develop freely.

Staff wellbeing – which, I take it, includes morale – may not be an exact science. But there is a strategic approach which can help to secure staff goodwill in an organisation that can improve outcomes significantly. Hundreds of schools throughout the UK are now taking staff wellbeing seriously, and most can report significant outcomes.

The authors would like to express their thanks to the school staff who gave up their time to participate in the study.

In my school we have a completely different approach. We regularly talk about those kinds of concerns. I guess we learnt the hard way that if you’re not alert to them early on then they can get really really bad, but when they’re just starting out you’re in a really good position to help. We don’t go on about it for ages or anything, just let everyone mention any concerns – it’s kind of useful because if more than one person has noticed something is not right with a pupil then it kind of gets the alarm bells ringing and we keep a closer eye and get ready to offer support. (French Teacher)

This study highlighted the need for training for school staff to improve their basic understanding of eating disorders and to enable them to recognize the warning signs. In the United Kingdom, there is an expectation on school staff to provide support to students struggling with mental health issues, including eating disorders. However, there is a lack of clarity over what schools and school staff should actually be trying to achieve [21, 22]. This is likely to be fuelling the uncertainty felt by school staff as expressed in this study and needs to be addressed to enable school staff to fulfil this role to the best of their ability.

'The education system is buckling under the weight of funding cuts, which are driving away staff who haven’t already lost their jobs, and jeopardising our children’s future'

On Wednesday, an NUT poll of teachers found the proportion of teachers now describing morale as high or very high has dropped from 27% to 15%, with those going for low or very low rising from 42% to 55%. More than two-thirds of teachers said they felt professional morale had fallen since the last general election. Morale among academy teachers was notably poor, with 62% describing it as low or very low.

Are staff well informed about eating disorders both in terms of recognizing symptoms and what to do if they are concerned about a student?