New app to help combat low teacher wellbeing

There’s no secret that the education sector has been facing overwhelming pressure and that the mental health and wellbeing of teaching staff and other educators has been stretched. News from the education world is often shrouded in negativity, and with the additional upheaval seen over the last two years, it can feel as if the negatives outweigh the positives. Around 9 in 10 teachers now say work-related stress has had a detrimental impact on their mental health, particularly over the course of the pandemic -  it can feel all too easy to become trapped in a cycle of despondency and pressure. 

The new Above & Beyond app, a platform for educators to come together and celebrate their achievements, is here to try and work beyond the climate of negativity and raise morale across the sector, by bringing school staff, consultants and other education professionals together to collaborate. They want to play a role in breaking that cycle and combating the continued deterioration of wellbeing within teaching. 

Having worked to turn a failing school around in her role as Headteacher at Northwold School in Hackney, Alison Kriel saw that it was investing in staff wellbeing that had the greatest impact. By focusing on ways to reduce the strain on staff, the school went from being poor performing, within the bottom 1%, to a highly successful school in the top 0.1%. During her time as a teacher, Deputy Head and Head, Alison felt the strain in her own work and mental health. From here, she realised the biggest improvements could be made when taking time to prioritise her own wellbeing, and in turn, look at ways to protect the wellbeing of the wider school staff.

When achievements and successes do come, often there feels like there is little chance to celebrate as there’s always another area for improvement, school inspection or upcoming assessment period looming on the horizon. But anyone who has worked in a school knows that there is so much hard work being done every day, which is just not seen in the external reports or league tables. There’s so much to learn from, empathise with and show off about every day. We shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about the great work that’s going on - schools and teachers going above and beyond for their pupils. 

With the launch of the Above & Beyond app, Alison wants to create an inclusive space to shout about those achievements, but also for educators to share their struggles and seek support. It provides groups for specialist topics, such as safeguarding, diversity and inclusion or Head Teacher forums. They also share regular podcasts, virtual events and networking opportunities to help uplift the community, and create an atmosphere of collaboration and collective support. Alison hopes it can become a ‘virtual staff room’ for teachers to meet, chat about what’s gone well or what hasn’t, and uplift one another.

Teacher Twitter and other teaching communities on social media are often able to provide a great deal of support and value. But they also come with all the wider pressures, negativity and ‘always on’ nature that is so deeply ingrained in popular social media sites. The Above & Beyond app creates a new space that builds from an atmosphere of support and collaboration, away from the competitive and often combative nature of platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. 

To download the app from the App Store, visit https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/above-beyond-education/id1604161439

To find out more about Above & Beyond and register visit https://aboveandbeyond.education/

 

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