Governor Wellbeing

There is much talk in governing board meetings about the workload and well-being of staff, and it's one of the areas we support governors to understand in Shaping Governance. Boards that we work with are very aware of the importance of the well-being of their staff and how they can help them achieve work-life balance.   However, Governors are often surprised when I focus on their well-being as a Governor, some volunteers, and others, such as staff and the Headteacher, balanced with their school role.

Busy lives, working, families, governing and other activities and commitments mean that we never stop to reflect, regroup, recoup or re-energise.

Most Governors are volunteers and collectively contribute around £1 billion to the school economy.  They have a massive role in supporting senior leaders in schools and are at the end of the phone or email if their support is needed.

So, I'd like every Governor to focus on their well-being, and that's why I have built into this Advent Calendar one day a week for you to do just that!

I will focus on the NHS' Five Steps to Well-being, a simple but effective way to focus on YOU. The Five Steps to Well-being promote the importance of connecting with other people, being physically active, learning a new skill, giving to others, and paying attention to the moment - Mindfulness.

Whilst I didn't realise at the time, I used all of these at a pivotal point in my career. And I recommend these to Governors to check-in with themselves and their school.

Over the next three Sundays in the lead up to Christmas, I will focus on learning a new skill, connecting with other people, and today - being physically active, giving to others and Mindfulness.

2017 was a challenging but liberating year for me.  I felt unfulfilled in my job, and whilst working nationally with many great organisations, I needed to see the difference that I made, which had become hidden.  So in a brave step, I left my job as a Director for Children's Services and Involvement and followed my dream to support Governors that volunteer their time to get the best out of their governing experience. My company,  Insight to Impact, was born.

In the months before, I entered the Ballot for the London Marathon; everyone knows the popularity of the Marathon, but I got in!

My training programme helped me transition to my new vocation, and the training provided the time for soul searching.  Whilst, I was already a keen runner and had entered the odd five or 10k, running a marathon is a huge step up; I had to improve my fitness and endurance, but Mindfulness came into its own. Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present and aware of what we're doing and where we are, not reacting or being too overwhelmed by what's going on around us.

On my training runs, I would be with my friends, Sarah and Amanda, who were supportive, and encouraging, but on the day, they were not there (well, Sarah was, but she was in a different section). The atmosphere in Greenwich Park, the start of the course, is both breathtaking and scary at the same time. 10s of thousands of runners ready to start their own mission. It's easy to get swept away in the ambience.  So being Mindful helped me to stay as focused as I could.  However, I had to give myself a good talking to or words of encouragement on several occasions!  Being Mindful got me to the end, and this is me crossing the line. And as a bonus, I had raised, together with Sarah, over £1500 for Mencap, a fabulous charity.

Whilst I am not saying go out and run a Marathon, we all have our challenges to deal with daily; I would urge you to reflect on your well-being regularly.  At the end of the day, if you don't look after yourself, you can't support others.

Next week, I'll focus on learning a new skill.

NHS 5 Ways to Well-being

Connect with other people

Good relationships are important for your mental well-being. They can:

  • help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • allow you to share positive experiences
  • provide emotional support and allow you to support others

Be physically active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental well-being by:

  • raising your self-esteem
  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • causing chemical changes in your brain, which can help to positively change your mood

Learn new skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental well-being by:

  • boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
  • helping you to build a sense of purpose
  • helping you to connect with others

Give to others

Although you already do this as Governors!

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental well-being by:

  • creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • helping you connect with other people

It could be small acts of kindness towards others or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

Pay attention to the present moment (Mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental well-being, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness ""indfulness"" Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better, and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Posted in Shaping Governance.