Psychological Safety

Posted on: 03/09/2021


It has been wonderful to welcome so many new children to St. Helen’s College this week and I have been in awe of how well our new Ducklings and Nursery children are settling into their new environment.  Our other new pupils across the school have started forging new friendships and across all three school sites there has been such genuine care and love shared by all.

It never ceases to move me at the beginning of a school year when I observe the staff with their new classes, the children with each other and every member of our community coming together to make sure that everyone is happy, settled and ready for the new year ahead.  

There has been a lot written about, and much research conducted on ‘psychological safety’ and the relationship between psychological safety at school and pupil well-being.  When the psychological safety of teachers is high, so too is students’ well-being - they demonstrate increased levels of self-confidence, which in turn leads to enhanced pupil development.

I am proud to be part of such a caring community where everyone (pupils and staff) feel safe, respected and comfortable to be themselves, they are not afraid to take risks, are not afraid of failure and are accepting of feedback.

Amy Edmonson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, is well known for her work on teams and in one of her Ted Talks here she discusses 3 things we can do to build a psychologically safe workplace:

1. frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem

2. acknowledge your own fallibility

3. model curiosity

I would hope that every member of the staff at St. Helen’s College feels that they are ‘championed’ in the workplace for what they do. Mr. and Mrs. Crehan as our School Principals and myself as Headteacher are incredibly fortunate to have such a committed team who continuously give their best for the good of your children.  

As a learning community the children learn best from their role models and these role models are the adults they are surrounded by both at home and at school.  

Our staff are also continuous learners, taking risks, learning new skills and embracing the challenges which new learning brings.  Our ongoing continuous professional learning at St. Helen’s College is quite outstanding. A snapshot of this is the commitment from staff such as Mrs. Reid, as she embarks upon her PGCE teacher training year, Mrs. Smith (Director of Communications/Admissions) as she commences an MFA in Creative Writing, our Reverend Smith who is training to be a School Chaplain, Mrs. Ross who has just been awarded her BA in Early Years Education and Mrs. Gilbey who has recently been awarded her L3 in Supporting Teaching and Learning. Mrs. Hunt and Mrs. Smith have just trained as our Wellbeing Champions to support staff Mental Health and I myself am embarking upon my second year of an MA in Educational Leadership and Management. Why we all do this additional learning is because we do feel psychologically safe in our workplaces, we want to be the best role models we can and continue to strive to be the best we can.

However, it is not only in taking certified courses that we as adults continue our learning journey.  The staff embrace learning on a daily, weekly, termly basis - as they continue to hone their skills, taking on board new educational research and pedagogy,  introducing new software to enhance pupil learning and of course learning from each other and your children.

It is evident that the ‘psychological safety’ of our staff is high and this in turn has a significant impact on the relationships which your children form at school and the love that they have for learning.  

This week we have seen the youngest members of our community take their first steps in becoming members of St. Helen’s College - our new Ducklings and Nursery children - as they left their first settling in session.  I was warmed by the feedback from parents as they collected their happy, curious and excited children.  

To all our families, new and current, to all our staff, new and current, thank you for making our community such a caring and safe environment where we can all flourish and grow!

Here’s to a superb new academic year! 

Mrs. Drummond