For the past academic year, in my new role as deputy headteacher, I have been leading all-staff morning briefings. They are great fun to do, but the morning rush of information and events can sometimes create unwanted anxiety. I have designed this for me and uploading it here for other school leaders. It has been created in association with @LeadingLearner.
Staff Briefing is now an everyday ritual in schools up and down the country. These 5-10 minutes, in a morning, are a great way to share key messages with staff, give reminders, say hello and goodbye, celebrate and say thank you and build the school’s ethos.
The #5MinStaffBriefingPlan aims to help you maximise the time available. The plan might also be useful for team (department or phase) meetings as a way of efficiently delivering information to colleagues either verbally or by sharing a hard/electronic copy.
Day/Date & Timing:
Starting with the simple stuff, record the day and date of the briefing and the time it will be given. In many schools the briefing notes are pinned up on a noticeboard for staff to refer to during the day, so it is important they are looking at the correct day’s briefing. Some schools create electronic copies which are shared with all staff, those on duty or colleagues who may be absent. It’s a great way of keeping them in touch with what is happening at school.
We tend to remember better the first things and last things we hear in a briefing. If there are some key notices or information make sure they are recorded concisely on the #5MinStaffBriefingPlanand delivered clearly at the start of the briefing. These can be restated in “This Today” section.
Reminders and General Announcements:
All briefings contain a few reminders about the events of the day. These may well be taken from the school’s calendar or the weekly briefing notes. Events going on in school, trips out or visitors coming in may all be included in this section. Giving people the “heads up” about forthcoming events in the week or weeks ahead can help them massively. Whether it’s reminding staff about planning for a future event, pulling together assessment data or getting reports ready a bit of advance notice, including an additional reminder, is greatly appreciated by busy colleagues.
It will also help with the meeting of deadlines – no-one can say “but I didn’t know!”
The General Announcement section is a bit of a catch-up. It could include sports results/music events/drama productions, staff professional development opportunities, recent press coverage and events within the community or at other local schools.
Well-Being Tip-Off and Thank You:
Staff Briefing is a great opportunity to facilitate and encourage staff wellbeing. The only word of warning is that this must be lived out through the rest of the day, the rest of the week and the rest of the year. It needs to be part of the school’s culture not just the briefing.
People like good news so announce and celebrate new births, engagements, weddings or significant achievements by a member of staff or a student. Announcements may include: cakes at break time for staff; drinks at the end of the week, a night out or the end of term do. Some schools may want to reinforce their wellbeing strategies for staff whether it is “everyone out by 6:00 p.m. at the latest” or “one night off during the week to make sure you’re fresh in the classroom.”
Just a general note about sharing personal matters; make sure you have the person’s permission in advance. It is their news and should only be made public if they are happy for you to do so.
Saying thank you is a great way to lift people’s spirits and acknowledge those who have gone the extra mile. These need to be handled carefully. Saying thank you to one person can leave another person wondering why they weren’t acknowledged. Giving a general thank you to all or a group of staff is one way around this but it can also lack the personal touch. In the end it is for the school or person taking the briefing to decide. A public general thank you for some really great work with individual notes or chat might be a good solution.
Hellos and Goodbyes:
Welcoming new people at the beginning of a term and saying goodbye to staff at the end of a year is part of the rhythm of school life. In addition, staff briefing is a great place to welcome more transitory visitors like trainee teachers on placement or supply teachers. Don’t forget staff returning after maternity/paternity leave or following an extended illness. They are likely to be feeling a bit anxious after some time away from school. A thoughtful welcome and smiling face may just set them at ease for their first day back.
As trainee and supply teachers come into the school so they must surely go. Don’t forget to thank them and wish them well. There’s a special space for a leaving message for anyone who has given slightly longer service including teachers or support staff who may be leaving part way through the term or year.
This is a final chance to reinforce any key messages you want staff to particularly focus on today. Make sure you don’t have too many as it will overwhelm staff rather than help them focus.
Thought for Today:
Thought for the day sits well at the end of a briefing. It is the last thing staff will hear before they rush off for the busy day ahead. This may be a prayer, reflection, link to an important part of the school’s ethos or simply a silent moment. Don’t underestimate the power of silence at the start of a hectic day. Staff may really appreciate it.
We hope the #5MinStaffBriefingPlan will help you scribble your way to a well-organised and meaningful staff briefing. Remember you don’t need to write something in every box, every day. The headings are a series of prompts to make sure you don’t miss any key information.
Click to open the example.
You can download copies of the plan below