Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community. The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
The role of SENCO can be isolating; often the only one in the school dealing with a variety of stakeholders:
- Parents and carers who may be stressed, confused and only focused (quite rightly) on the needs of their own child,
- Teachers facing several challenges, as local and national systems evolve,
- Support staff who need direction and reassurance to focus on what matters and has high impact,
- Fellow in-house leaders with other responsibilities who need answers,
- External specialists and practitioners, who are focused on their remit, not necessarily the wider picture, and, of course,
- Pupils … who are keen to progress but face genuine barriers or difficulties.
In addition to this there are other pressures that are beyond a SENCO’s area of control:
- Changes in access arrangements
- Budgetary constraints
- Local authority changes and inconsistencies
- Conflicting advice from external professionals and local authority officials
- Changing reporting procedures
Many SENCOs remain classroom teachers, so added to the pressures listed above, they may have the responsibility of teaching, being a departmental/subject (or key stage) member, or even a pastoral/form tutor role. There are few SENCOs remaining whose sole remit is SEND, with many wearing multiple hats from the current collection: Pupil Premium, English as an Additional Language, Looked After Children, Safeguarding, First Aid, More Able, Inclusion and supporting medical needs
And that’s just in school! Beyond the classroom SENCOs are individuals with families and a personal life, which have their own challenges and stresses to manage.
In 2014, The New Economics Foundation published research that suggested there were five things an individual need to do daily to enhance and sustain their wellbeing. These are connecting with others, noticing something new, being active, giving or yourself and time and finally making an intentional effort to learn new things. This ‘5 a day’ construct led to the #teacher5aday movement alongside other more generic titles for other professions. In 2017, #senco5aday was launched. SENCOs need to take heed of some of the suggestions, but rather than trying to focus on 5 things to do each day, #TeamADL have grouped these into three easy to remember focus areas: People, Place and Purpose.
We look forward to asking SENCOs, if they have P’d three times today! We’re pretty sure a blog will follow with their responses.
Our next blog will be in November 2018 and we will be focussing on People … till then use the grid below to record your thoughts on the 3Ps of SENCO wellbeing.
|What do you currently do to support your wellbeing?|
|Is it helpful?|
|What could be different?|