Are You Well Off?

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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How well off are you when it comes to your working conditions?

I’ve just read the workplace culture blurb for Coca-Cola and now I want to work there. They have inspired me with their message for employees:

Our inclusive culture is defined by our seven core values: leadership, passion, integrity, collaboration, diversity, quality, and accountability. Our central promise at The Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit, and inspire moments of optimism; to create value and make a difference.

Coca-Cola proclaim to value diversity and they say that their powerful brand is fuelled by people, talent and ideas.

In many respects the Coca-Cola values are not dissimilar to the fizzy thinking and mission statements of half a dozen schools I’ve worked in. These schools have all been rich in diversity, talent and ideas with inclusiveness and fairness at their core, which in turn have fed into the ‘brand’ of each school to build a cultural IQ and a community of winners. Well, that’s been the plan, but the core values and mission statements of one or two of these schools haven’t always reflected their ambitions especially in relation to staff wellbeing and working conditions.

Out Of Condition?

School blurbs all sounds wonderful but it’s the working conditions that really count: physical and emotional. Some places are lovely to work in and some definitely aren’t. You might have ‘perfect’ pupils, but then again you might have daily abuse and ‘nightmare’ parents who the headteacher has had to exclude to preserve your sanity.

I’ve had the great misfortune to work in a couple of ‘unsupportive’ schools with many ‘boiled-frog teachers’ where core values were rotten and ‘wellness’ amounted to whether the staffroom kettle worked or not! If we ‘moaned’ about unachievable deadlines or being under pressure, then support amounted to a dose of stiff-upper lip and “that’s teaching, no one said it was going to be easy!” Then again, I’ve worked in some truly happy schools overflowing with magnificent support, great children and caring parents.


Wellbeing and working conditions have never had a higher profile than they do today and research is proliferating. There are lots of projects now that are devoted to us and our working conditions.

Dr Jermaine Ravalier and Dr Joe Walsh at Bath Spa University are investigating the working conditions of teachers and student behaviour and how these conditions may influence well-being. So far they have collected data from 10,000 teachers and education support staff nationwide. Can you help?

To take part involves completing a quick and confidential survey found below:

This is an important project and should work to change policy and thus, improve education working conditions. If you have any questions, then you can contact Dr. Jermaine Ravalier via or telephone 01225 876616.

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