5 Ways to Use Your Leftover School Budget
It’s that time of year again. Your brand-new school budget is nearly here and you’re excited about the potential projects it could fund.
It’ll only be a matter of time before your school business manager emerges from their budgeting cave, shielding their eyes from the bright sunlight of a new financial year, and all will be right with the world.
But wait a minute! This financial year isn’t over yet! Maybe you’ve got a bit of leftover school budget and you’re wondering how best to use it? Well fear not! We’re going to swoop in and give you some financially fantastic ideas.
Using Your Leftover School Budget for Good
In many schools, any leftover school budget feels a little like loose change in your pocket. There’s not a lot there, but you know you can use it for something lovely – a strong latte or a Dairy Milk work for me.
But what’s the leftover school budget version of a latte? What can any surplus pennies in your school’s trouser pocket actually be used for?
Well for us at Laughology, it’s all about enhancing mental health and wellbeing. From pupils to staff, spending any leftover budget on these important areas can most definitely have a positive impact.
1. Mental Health First Aid Training
In November 2018, the government conducted its first mental health survey of children and young people. It found that nearly 13% had been assessed as having at least one mental disorder in 2017, with emotional disorders becoming more common in five to fifteen-year olds – growing from 3.9% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2017.
It’s evident that our young people are struggling. Schools are struggling to support them too. Teachers are expected to support children with mental health difficulties, but often without relevant training or expertise in a very challenging area of children’s health.
More and more schools are investing in youth mental health first aiders; staff who are trained specifically to support children with their mental health. According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, training is designed to give the adults in a young person’s life the ‘skills and confidence to step in, offer first aid and guide them towards the support they need. In doing so, they can speed up a young person’s recovery, stop issues from developing into a crisis, and ultimately save lives.’
Using any leftover school budget to upskill staff will not only provide them with greater confidence to support vulnerable pupils, it also ensures children know they have dedicated people to turn to should they need it.
2. Extra Release Time
Showing staff that you value their time is a great way of boosting wellbeing in your school. By using any leftover school budget for extra release/PPA time, you will demonstrate that you understand the importance of work/life balance. And nothing means more to teachers than a healthy balance of work and play.
Why not keep it a surprise? Catch them before they go home and let them know they’re going to have a morning of release time the very next day. If you’re happy to let them work from home, let them know that too. If you’re expecting them in school during their release time, why not leave a few delicious snacks out for them to enjoy while they work?
It really is the little things that, done regularly, mean so much to staff. If you’re feeling really enthusiastic and you have the time, why not cover the classes yourself? Spend some time back at the chalk face and see how happy the children are to have you teaching them… Nothing is more exciting than a lesson with the headteacher.
Et voila! Happy staff, happy children.
3. Happy-Centred School PSHE Programme
There are a number of PSHE schemes of work out there, but none quite like our Happy-Centred Schools (HCS) PSHE programme. We’ve put the happiness and wellbeing of the school community at the heart of it because we know just how important they are.
So, if you’ve got some leftover school budget, why not invest in a programme created by teachers for teachers? The HCS programme will enhance the personal, social, emotional and economic wellbeing and happiness of your whole school community, while also supporting children's mental health.
Our five key themes are:
- Coping Skills
- Positive Relationships
- Achievement and Success
We’ve even got lessons and resources that meets the new 2020 government guidelines for positive relationships. Why not join the many schools around the country using our PSHE programme? Their staff and children are getting happier by the minute.
4. Staff Appreciation
Richard Branson once said, ‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’ Too true, Richard, too true. By taking care of staff and valuing their contributions and hard work, they’ll naturally take care of the children and parents in ways you could only imagine. Adults across the school will want to live out the school’s values and vision with integrity.
But how can you show staff that you truly appreciate them? Not with the odd fancy lunch or a bit of yoga, but really appreciate them. It takes time, effort and a little bit of that leftover school budget, but it’s worth it.
Laughology’s annual National Happiness Awards gives us the privilege of seeing some of the best in the business. Schools that truly understand what it means to show staff how much they’re appreciated and who value their wellbeing.
In January, Arthur Bugler Primary School (aka The Fun Factory) in Essex, put together a staff appreciation week and it went down a treat. From an afternoon tea with delicious scones to a Parents’ Appreciation Wall, headteacher John Bryant wanted staff to know just what their hard work meant to the whole school community. Even the children got involved too, creating an amazing video of thanks.
On our Laughology Twitter feed, we’ve also seen schools revamping their staffrooms to make them more comfortable, welcoming places to be. A great way for staff to really feel as though they have somewhere to unwind and chat at the end of a busy day. Maybe a little trip to Ikea is in store –possibly with a piece of Daim cake for good measure?
Consider what steps you could take to ensure staff regularly feel valued in your school. As we emerge out of the winter mornings and the cold weather, leap forward into spring with some dedicated, consistent appreciation for your staff.
5. Wellbeing INSET
It’s all well and good to say that any leftover school budget should be used for wellbeing, but it’s often hard for schools to really know how to support staff and, most importantly, which strategies staff could use to support themselves.
Schools are busy places, so wellbeing may be overlooked as a luxury rather than as essential part of a school plan. However, staff wellbeing is a vital factor for quality, performance and productivity. Demotivated staff are often disengaged, they do not enjoy their jobs and eventually leave.
That’s where a wellbeing INSET day could come in very handy! Spending leftover school budget on professional, expert advice can really help staff to understand what they can do to enhance their emotional wellbeing and walk away with a bank of ideas to try out. Our own Emotional Wellbeing in Schools workshop aims for staff to take away:
- · Tips to focus their mental energy.
- · An understanding of the positive effects of humour and laughter for emotional intelligence.
- · Strategies to avoid behaviour and thinking that causes stress.
- · Ways to create happiness and positivity in a school team.
By investing in wellbeing training, you’re investing in the future of your staff and also your school development plan. A happy team will see a much-reduced turnover and a boost in enthusiasm. Naturally, this happiness will filter out across the school community, especially to the most important people there – the children!
Lead from the Heart
Simon Sinek said, ‘Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.’
As a school leader you’ve got many plates spinning at any one time, but by investing in your staff (yourself included) and making them your top priority, all the rest will come together as a result of this investment.
Putting people first – the adults and the children – does wonders for any organisation. But in a school, it can ensure children are part of a wonderfully caring, happy environment, supported by adults who genuinely love being there.
And, quite frankly, there’s no better place for a child to be.