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How Brooke Weston Academy is leading the way on staff wellbeing

"I take personal pride in being there for our staff, building relationships and trust, allowing them to feel comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities and stories. Knowing I can help and support colleagues at work while they support our students is both amazing and rewarding." 

(Akvile Taylor, Staff Wellbeing Lead at BWA)

At Brooke Weston Trust we recognise that staff wellbeing is pivotal to the success of our schools and the impact they have on our learners.

Brooke Weston Academy stands out for its best practice and with April marking ‘Stress Awareness Month’, we wanted to explore the school’s innovative and year-round approach to staff wellbeing. We caught up with Akvile Taylor, School Business Manager who also acts as Wellbeing Lead at Brooke Weston Academy to find out more…

A dedicated wellbeing team and culture of support

The commitment of Brooke Weston Academy to staff wellbeing is clear through its dedicated team, made up of Shaun Strydom Academy Principal and people specialist, Josh Bonnar and Akvile.

Akvile, who leads the team, has been with the Trust for 11 years and joined Brooke Weston Academy two years ago as School Business Manager. She explains more about the proactive approach taken by the school: "When the government raised the Wellbeing Charter for schools, Shaun Strydom swiftly identified the need for a focused approach in this area. This led to the formation of a specialised team with a consistent and supportive approach, ensuring all of our staff continue to feel valued, heard and supported.”

Building a Wellbeing Hub: Resources, Recognition, and Support

Brooke Weston Academy's internal "Wellbeing Hub" is a central resource accessible to all staff, providing comprehensive information on policies, benefits, and available support services. It acts as more than just a webpage, fostering a positive and supportive environment through initiatives like "Thank a Colleague" and "Report a Concern". This approach encourages staff to celebrate achievements whilst offering support to colleagues who might be struggling.

Year-Round Initiatives to Support Staff Wellbeing

Brooke Weston Academy's commitment to this important topic goes beyond the Wellbeing Hub. Programs like the ‘Wellbeing Day’, which offers a full or half day off, are supplemented with the school-initiated ‘Brooke Boost’ that offer up to six periods off per year for staff to recharge and rejuvenate. The school has also reduced assessment points to 2 or 3 per year group to alleviate workload and dedicated ‘Stress Buster’ weeks focus on core duties, allowing for a break from meetings and enabling the option to leave early. By leveraging technology, the school streamlines workload and minimises unnecessary administrative tasks. "Safe Space" initiatives, including DSE assessments, health services, and flexible working options create a supportive environment. Furthermore, a positive workplace culture is promoted through regular staff appreciation, celebrations and a strong message that "you make a difference," fostering a happy and engaged workforce.

Professional Development and Resources

At Brooke Weston Academy, there is a strong focus to support staff in managing stress, improving work-life balance, and enhancing overall wellbeing. Akvile also highlighted a culture of strong professional development within the school to ensure that staff have the tools to undertake their jobs effectively and efficiently. This is further supported by several additional key offerings, including courses available through the BWT CPD Centre: Teaching School Hub and Primary Training Hub. Staff also have the opportunity to become certified Mental Health First Aiders and additional support is provided through the BWT Employee Assistance current provider Health Assured.

Prioritising Self-Care, Resilience Building, and Support

Brooke Weston Academy places a strong emphasis on self-care and resilience-building among staff. Strong and supportive line management enabling collaboration between staff, further enhances this genuine care and dedication towards the well-being of each other which is evident amongst staff and was highlighted via the recent Ofsted Inspection.

The BWA Wellbeing Hub offers a variety of resources to support staff wellbeing, and the 'Thank a Colleague' initiative provides a platform for appreciating and supporting colleagues. Additionally, Brooke Weston Academy provides robust support for staff members facing mental health challenges. The school's Mental Health First Aiders (due to be rolled out across the rest of the Trust in May), along with HR and the School Business Manager (SBM), work closely with staff to provide support. Regular wellbeing and coaching support meetings are in place, proven to reduce staff absences and prevent escalations. Flexible working arrangements are tailored to accommodate individual needs wherever possible, and occupational health referrals are available to provide specialised support and advice when needed.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

At Brooke Weston Academy, the approach to staff wellbeing is both inclusive and accessible, encompassing a range of key initiatives. Both HR and the School Business Manager actively share resources to support staff wellbeing, while ‘Appreciation Days’ and positivity events are hosted to promote positivity and recognise staff achievements. Training Day adjustments, such as longer lunch breaks and shorter workdays, are implemented to further support staff wellbeing.

What’s next?

A comprehensive Staff Handbook is set to launch in June 2024, providing detailed guidance on wellbeing, and new staff members benefit from an enhanced induction program focused on workload management and wellbeing for a smooth transition into the school community. BWA are also fully engaged in how the learning and approach adopted in BWA can be utilised as part of the BWT people strategy strand – Managing Workload and Maximising Wellbeing.


As we mark 'Stress Awareness Month', Brooke Weston Academy's exemplary approach to staff wellbeing, led by a dedicated and supportive team, serves as a positive reminder and sets a benchmark for prioritising self-care and resilience-building initiatives.



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