Fairfax Academy Staff Wellbeing Week – sweet treats, social support and Secret Saints

Fairfax Academy Staff Wellbeing Week – A week-long event that was pioneered at a Sutton Coldfield academy has been rolled out to boost the wellbeing of staff at three other schools across Birmingham.

The annual Wellbeing Week at Fairfax Academy, in Fairfax Road, Sutton Coldfield, has been held each January for more than a decade, bringing together all kinds of supportive elements such as social get-togethers, fun exercise, financial advice and life coaching.

It proved so effective that now staff at schools across the Fairfax Multi Academy Trust (FMAT) also take part, with a schedule of activities also organised at Bournville School, Erdington Academy and Smith’s Wood Academy.

This year, in the week beginning Monday, January 29, staff at Fairfax took part in a broad range of activities designed to promote wellness, self-care and unity.

Motivational messages for Fairfax Academy Staff Wellbeing Week

Each day began with a daily wellbeing email being sent out, featuring motivational messages and updates on the day ahead. Throughout the week staff could book a 30-minute slot to see a professional life coach, or benefit from a financial signposting session to help connect with useful agencies.

Fairfax staff enjoyed a few sweet treats in the staff room throughout the week, or could join Principal Sean Castle for a coffee.
Fairfax staff enjoyed a few sweet treats in the staff room throughout the week, or could join Principal Sean Castle for a coffee.

The table in the staff room regularly groaned with cookies, pastries and hot chocolate, while staff could also share coffee and cake with Principal Sean Castle.

Physical wellbeing was catered for too – with high intensity interval training sessions, a five-aside football tournament and a sports social event, and staff could get in touch with their creative side through an art therapy session.

Staff also benefit from Perkbox, a digital platform that rewards performance and good practice with everything from Amazon vouchers to free drinks from high street coffee chains. A drop-in session during the week aimed to help staff make the most of the perks on offer.

Each day a fun ‘Secret Saint’ scheme encourages staff members to show their personal support for colleagues, by offering words of encouragement, helping them in their work or simply giving them a gift that will lift their day.

The Fairfax Academy Staff Wellbeing Week ended with an after school social event for all staff at a popular local pub.

Deputy Head of Academy Rachel Boyce, who oversees the event, said: “Staff wellbeing is very important to us all year round at Fairfax– but this annual week provides a focal point where we can bring lots of things together.

“The idea is to cover all aspects of wellbeing – we encourage physical activity and fitness because that contributes to wellbeing, and mental wellbeing through sessions with a life coach. Financial wellbeing is covered by sessions where staff can drop in and get signposted to useful support resources.

“We often say that Fairfax is a school at the heart of its community, but in many ways the school is also a community
in itself too, where colleagues support each other and work together to achieve the best outcomes
for the students,”
– principal sean castle

“And then, of course, there is the social side of wellbeing, which can be simply sitting down for a chat with a colleague, enjoying a few sweet treats in the staff room or a coffee with the Principal.

“The Secret Saint idea is very popular too, because it allows people to help each other, and personally express their support for a colleague. It can be anything from volunteering to do a colleague’s playground duty so they can put their feet up for a bit, to leaving a nice sweet treat in their pigeonhole in the morning.”

The Academy has recently created a Staff Wellbeing Room, next to the staff room, providing a quiet and peaceful place for staff members to reset, gather their thoughts or simply take a few moments out of their busy schedule to breath.

Rachel said: “The room is already proving quite popular, but we’re constantly looking at how we can improve it, in terms of its décor and lighting, to provide a place for staff to use.

Deborah Bunn, FMAT’s Professional Learning Lead, oversees wellbeing across its four academies.

She said: “It’s important that the Trust provides a wellbeing programme that equips staff to thrive in a busy school environment, and the annual Wellbeing Week, which first began at Fairfax Academy, is a brilliant, positive way for our teams to start the year.”

Fairfax Academy Principal Sean Castle said: “The Staff Wellbeing Week is another part of the Fairfax’s culture that we are proud of, because we take wellbeing very seriously, and put a lot of effort into supporting our team.

“We regularly ask staff if there’s anything we can do to improve their wellbeing and take on board their feedback.

“But I also think that the week, and our approach to wellbeing in general, plays an important role in the unity of school. We often say that Fairfax is a school at the heart of its community, but in many ways the school is also a community in itself too, where colleagues support each other and work together to achieve the best outcomes for the students.

“I think our Staff Wellbeing Week reinforces that sense of community, which is incredibly important, and trickles down to all aspects of school life.”

For more about Fairfax School, click here.

To visit the Fairfax Academy website, click here.

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