Companies news  •  HR Focus

Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill: empowering employees to promote wellbeing

Driven by its motto of ‘Excellence through care’, the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill has pioneered an employee-led approach to developing and implementing wellbeing initiatives – and helped to reinforce the school’s sense of community as a result

Led by Head of School Mireille Rabaté, the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill took its first cohort of students in September 2015. It provides a bilingual education programme, offering both the International Baccalaureate (IBDP) and the French baccalauréat.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school’s HR & Staff Wellbeing department took it upon themselves to develop new measures to support its staff.

Starting with an email sent out to gauge interest, the end result was the creation of the ‘Staff Wellbeing Champions’: a group committed to encouraging staff to prioritise their health and wellbeing both within and outside the workplace.

After successfully organising virtual events during lockdown, upon return to campus the Staff Wellbeing Champions made sure to keep up the provision of initiatives (including a staff band, ceilidh dancing and a ‘Zen den’ where team members can go to relax) – and also to continue fostering a culture of wellbeing in the school’s everyday operations.

This is a remarkable example of employees stepping up and taking the lead. The Staff Wellbeing Champions are all volunteers and meet to exchange ideas every two weeks. This peer-to-peer system helps to foster an atmosphere of trust.

“If it’s a colleague encouraging you to focus on your health and wellbeing, someone within the community who you know and trust, your sense of agency may well be greater than if the encouragement had come from someone external,” says Nicole Jackson, the school’s Head of HR & Staff Wellbeing. 

According to Ms Rabaté, a school’s management structure is flatter than one might expect: although there is a hierarchy, staff take a collaborative approach to work and are always able to exchange ideas. “The majority of our team members are teachers: very independent workers, with opinions and innovative ideas,” she says. “There is employee voice here and we encourage the team to speak openly with each other.”

The school’s relative youth should realistically have posed a huge logistical problem – but it actually helped to strengthen staff determination to rise to the challenge.

“The agility of the school, the speed at which this could take place, was fantastic,” says Stuart Fern, a PE teacher and Staff Wellbeing Champion. “When the team sees that change, for the benefit of their wellbeing as well as the students’, that just raises morale.”

With both Ms Jackson and Designated Safeguarding Lead Colette Shulver sitting on the Senior Leadership Team, staff leaders can effectively model the approach for the rest of the team to take.

As a result, the school is dismantling the culture of ‘presenteeism’ which has received so much media exposure in recent months. Staff are trusted to manage their own schedules and make their own judgements about when to come into work.

This approach has helped to drive changes to teaching during the pandemic, including shortened lesson times and a special ‘slow-down Wednesday’ with greater emphasis on both student and staff wellbeing – changes which look set to become permanent.

“In the long run, it’s our mission to think forward and think strategically about the future,” says Ms Rabaté. “Schools are going to change. They have changed tremendously over the past two years.”

Through its employee-led approach to health and wellbeing, the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill proved itself a worthy winner in the ‘Coup de Cœur’ category at the 2021 Franco-British Business Awards.

Located in the London borough of Brent, the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill, a co-ed independent school, offers a bilingual education to children from 3 to 18

Share this page Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin