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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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The Staff Matters web resource

Jo Mason
MindMatters National Coordinator – Strategic Development. Email: jomason@ozemail.com.au
Staff Matters Model

The Staff Matters website is a resource that provides school staff with information and ideas on how to protect and enhance their own health and wellbeing. Part of the MindMatters site, it takes a universal and health literacy approach within the educational working context and is available for staff in all types of schools. The pages of the Staff Matters website are organised into a number of interacting domains.
  • The Thriving Self domain presents a range of core concepts covering the health and wellbeing of individual staff members in an educational context. It centres on the importance of a person's beliefs about health and wellbeing as they apply to work.
  • The Professional domain contains material that relates to the type of work that people at an educational site undertake. Principals and other school leaders can find targeted background professional information on this section of the site. It also includes a list of resources for school staff not in leadership or teaching roles.
  • The Organisational domain contains materials that can be provided for the more formal school processes for training and development, induction, performance management and renewal, and has a role in formally encouraging and supporting health and wellbeing.
  • Material in the Interpersonal domain relates to the collegiate and informal social aspects of a work site.
  • The School in the Community domain can be used to think about, and develop, the community and partnerships context for a school, and will enable groups and organisations to apply some of the MindMatters and new Staff Matters activities to staff health and wellbeing activities. The reflection that schools are less and less isolated institutions resulted in the addition of the School in the Community domain. With its inclusion we acknowledge the huge impact community support and opinion can have on the work site and staff wellbeing. 

The Staff Matters Model

The domains are visually represented in the Staff Matters Health and Wellbeing at Work Model (pictured). The Model has been developed with seminar groups through the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council (APAPDC) and pilot training sessions. The Model is designed as a useful organiser or metaphor for thinking about staff health and wellbeing.

The Model was influenced by the staff training carried out by the School Matters staff, and by literature such as Bill Rogers' I Get by with a Little Help from My Friend – The impact of colleague support in schools, and by models developed by other authors. The influence of systems theory is also evident in the dynamic nature of the processes of staff health and wellbeing described in the Model. In developing the Personal domain, the authors wanted to reflect research and theory ranging from the more generally applied expectancy value theory, attribution theory and self-determination theory through to Hargreaves' work in education that recognises the emotional component of working and teaching.


Ideas on how to use Staff Matters

Staff Matters seeks to provide a range of topics that inform health and wellbeing for staff, and a series of activities that allow individuals or groups to explore these topics. It provides summaries of articles and opinion pieces about mental health and links to mental health websites, listed under the Useful Information link within the web page for each domain. The website can be used individually by staff or downloaded onto the school intranet for school wide application.  

Under each domain, the website offers templates for the creation of reflective personal journals in which staff can document issues surrounding their own health and wellbeing. Some schools are looking to build a version of the journal into their induction processes for those new to teaching and education. The website also offers templates for reading logs, in which staff can enter comments on what they have gained from professional literature.  

Relationships with colleagues appears to be important in determining feelings of connectedness to work and in encouraging staff to seek help, both of which act as protective factors for them. The Staff Matters site can be used to develop such relationships by facilitating informal staff development groups with colleagues.  

All schools can access and use the Staff Matters site directly by loading it on their intranet. Further material will be added to the site over the remainder of the year.


What Staff Matters is not

Staff Matters supports health and wellbeing with a positive universal heath promotion approach. It is not a professional or clinical program for stress and burnout, although the site does provide details of where personnel can go for help on these issues.  

The Staff Matters pages are not an advocacy site for particular ways of viewing teaching, working or education or for addressing particular work site situations. These issues should be taken up with the employer and/or professional or employee organisations.  


School partnerships

A series of partnerships with individual schools will also be featured on the website. Up to 20 schools are expected to provide feedback on what aspects of the website works for them as they expand their focus on staff health and wellbeing resources.


Feedback and other participation

A feedback sheet on the website enables staff to offer comments and suggest other information and activities that could contribute to work-based health and wellbeing. Staff can also join the MindMatters Discussion Group.

KLA

Subject Headings

Websites
Teaching profession
Officials and employees
Mental Health
Health