I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a draft implementation strategy for A Curriculum for Excellence and have identified a key element in its success to be a strong focus on maintaining and supporting the mental health and well being of teachers and headteachers.
All too often people in positions such as mine can focus upon the technical elements of implementation and see it a problem to be solved through a logical project management approach. I have to admit that on many occasions in my career as an educational leader that I have succumbed to temptation of the “grand plan” approach – which took no account of the how it impacted upon the mental health and well being of those who would have to implement the “plan”.
There can be no doubt that any curriculum innovation can bring with it significant concerns and pressures which can have a negative impact upon the health of those who work in schools. If we add to this some of the financial pressures on public services which might come about as a consequence of the credit crisis then the potential for an explosive mix is made even more likely.
To that end I believe that a key factor to be borne in mind throughout the implementation process is how we – and I do mean we – maintain a focus upon the mental health and well being of our colleagues.
I’ve been very impressed by the Teacher Support Network and any service which offers help and support must be welcomed. But I would like to see us move that focus “upstream”, i.e. build some consideration about the impact upon mental health and well being into the planning phase – as opposed to treating the symptoms of the consequences of our plans – regardless of how unintended they might be.