Staff at Sgoil a’ Bhac were recently presented with a Gold Award following a successful Gold assessment under the Healthy Working Lives programme.
The programme is delivered by NHS Health Scotland in collaboration with Scotland’s 14 local NHS Boards.
The Healthy Working Lives programme helps workplaces identify issues and improve health, safety and wellbeing in their organisations in a structured and productive way.
By Achieving the Healthy Working Lives award, workplaces:
Have a healthier, more motivated and productive workforce
Reduce absence rates and support employees in work and returning to work
Reduce accidents, incidents and work related ill health
Enhance their reputation and increase their profile
Contribute to the health of the wider community.
Staff at Sgoil a’ Bhac set out on their Healthy Working Lives journey in 2011 when the school was working on a large project related to Health and Wellbeing.
At that time it was considered important to also look at how best to improve the health and wellbeing of staff within the workplace.
Despite a number of changes in the senior management team within the school since 2011, Healthy Working Lives has remained a priority and the current Healthy Working Lives Steering Group includes employees from all staff teams across the School and Sgoil Àraich.
In the years since 2011, staff have worked through and have been successful in obtaining and then maintaining awards at Bronze, Silver and Silver Plus.
In Session 2018-19 it was decided to actively work towards the Gold Award and this was achieved following a successful assessment in December 2019.
School staff have participated in a wide range of physical activities which the steering group have organised for them to join in with including step count challenges, rowing activities, yoga, games nights and other fitness challenges.
In addition a number of campaigns have been run across the school which have highlighted a variety of cancers, diabetes awareness and World Down Syndrome Day.
Work has also been done to focus on healthy eating, promote alcohol awareness and in taking positive action to reduce accidents, incidents and work related ill health.
The NHS’s Assessor Jenny Hill stated: “The assessment gave me a great insight into the work of Sgoil a’ Bhac and allowed the opportunity to see the clear and continual commitment of the school to a healthy, safer workplace.”
She added: “This is a great achievement for the school as other than NHS Western Isles, there are currently no other Gold Award holders in Lewis and Harris and only one other in Uist.
“As recipients of the Gold Award the staff have demonstrated a clear commitment to promoting and developing Healthy Working Lives as an integral part of Sgoil a’ Bhac.”
Head Teacher Kirsteen J. Maclean commented: “This is a wonderful achievement for the school and we are hugely indebted to Norma Macleod, HWL Adviser for NHS Western Isles, who encouraged us and supported us so well, as we worked our way through the award criteria.
“We were aware that no other school in the Local Authority held this award, but did not know, until we achieved the award that only one other workplace in the Western Isles, apart from the NHS themselves had achieved this standard.
“The importance of mental health has also been acknowledged in Sgoil a’ Bhac with approximately a third of our staff having undertaken Mental Health training for the Workplace.
“Mental Health continues to be a priority for us going forward and we will continue to ensure opportunities are focused on the mental health and wellbeing of our pupils and our employees and that a good work-life balance is achieved.
“The next challenge for us is to maintain this award annually and to ensure that the work of Healthy Working Lives in Sgoil a’ Bhac goes from strength to strength.”