A Tale of Two Giants in Primary School

Life always throws up surprises and this week’s surprises have been gifted by two wonderful Jolly Back customers. Let me explain and maybe you can decide which giant you’d prefer to be?

I’ve heard the brilliant visual analogy of a primary school teacher self-funding her Jolly Back Chair – “I no longer want to feel like a giant hunched over a tiny chair, struggling with back pain”.

That is exactly it – Professional teaching and support staff, are using chairs designed for children (rarely weight tested for adults), which need to be lifted (across children’s heads) to be positioned, which are not cushioned and offer little or no back support – day in and day out across the Country.

Research shows 82% of early years and primary teacher experience work-related musculoskeletal disorders (back, hip, neck and knee pain) once a week or more.

99.5% of 705 staff surveyed felt work-related pain was under-reported in the education profession, 77% because it’s “accepted as part of the job”. But accepting pain as part of your job is not acceptable and does not happen in any other profession I am aware of.

With the current focus on employee wellbeing and mental health, it’s little wonder the teaching profession is struggling to recruit and retain teachers, when additional workload and cultural practices are often added to the mix.

Sadly, many teachers self-fund their own Jolly Back chair as they know their school will not fund it (as in my first giant this week). Supplying your own Pritt Stick is not ideal, but supplying your own chair, a piece of equipment to help support you do your job? Maybe this should raise questions about leadership culture and value of employees?

One of our treasured collaborative case studies explains the incredible difference leadership and employee wellbeing investment has had in a school. You can read more about our School Business Manager and Headteacher Support Case Study here.

Now for the other giant this week, well, that’s the giant I’d be and the school where I’d gladly send my children, confident in the belief that employee wellbeing and health are an important focus for the SLT and that well looked after and respected staff will bring out the best in each other and the children they teach.

After moving and handling training, it became obvious to the Health and Safety lead that classroom seating needed addressing. The local authority considered Jolly Back chairs as “specialist seating” (which shows just how far we have yet to go) but undeterred and passionate in her belief that teaching staff should have a mobile, supportive chair to benefit their low level work with children and make it easier, she discussed the investment with the school’s Chair and Board of Governors (who are responsible for overseeing H&S in schools) and funding was agreed.

26 Jolly Back chair and PosturePad cushions are on their way to Northern Ireland and not only that, the school are so proud and wish to “show off our new equipment and investment in the physical and emotional wellbeing of staff” and have suggested to their “wellbeing committee” that an article is submitted in their school magazine.

I wonder how many schools have a “wellbeing committee”? The concept so engrained and being understandably proud to share the known benefits of looking after their most important resource, their staff. Brilliant to hear about!

At Jolly Back we’re here to support everyone working with and caring for children. If you know of anyone who believes in early years and primary health and wellbeing or who wishes to know more about it for themselves, their school, a colleague, their child’s school, a friend or family teaching member, please do get in touch or share our details, as we are always happy to help with free advice and guarantee you will be offered the most appropriate  seating solution for you and your situation.