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Abbey Gate College

How staff wellbeing was prioritised using Emotie

After an exceptionally challenging few years in education, Deputy Head of Abbey Gate College in Chester, Gavin Allmand, reflects on teaching life during the covid pandemic. Getting to grips using Teams, trying to engage classes of students online, compulsory mask wearing, 2 metre zones to protect pupils and teachers within classrooms and how to explain a difficult geographical concept to a child from behind a perspex screen are just a few of the challenges faced by Gavin and most teachers throughout the UK. 

Working under such pressure, often remotely, has taken its toll on the mental wellbeing of those in the education sector, which is why Abbey Gate College are celebrating the successes of their partnership with Yoomi and the focus and priority they gave to the mental wellbeing of their own teachers and support staff during the pandemic.

Out with the old

Prior to working with Emotie, Abbey Gate College followed a traditional appraisal process, which over time had been through a number of iterations, never quite achieving the ultimate goal of empowering employees to believe in a process that was “by them and with them, not to them”. Gavin and the team were looking for the ability to streamline a more regular, two-way conversation, a transparent and trackable means of setting and assessing goals on a regular basis. Enter Emotie.

In with the new: Adopting any new system or business change process can be a daunting prospect. Confident in their own rationale and reasons for selecting to work with Yoomi, Abbey Gate recognised that this was a very different approach to anything they had previously tried. From the very start of the relationship in 2019, Gavin has felt supported and listened to by Emotie, working closely with the Emotie team from the offset. The Emotie team began with their onboarding process which involved a presentation to the entire workforce. This reinforced that the system belongs to everyone at Abbey Gate and was therefore presented in context to Abbey Gate’s requirements. It was explained from the outset that it is a system created to be flexible to their unique needs.

“A crucial advantage of Emotie has been the check-in system. It has allowed regular dialogue that the old system simply didn’t”

Gavin Allmand - Deputy Head

Abbey Gate it!

Abbey Gate has put their unique stamp on all aspects of Emotie. Exactly as it should be, this is their system, their way. They took the user guide from Emotie, and to borrow their colloquial term, they “Abbey Gated it.” They continue to use this handbook today as part of their new starter pack.

Here comes the curveball: The three original intentions Abbey Gate set for the Emotie platform were to streamline the old-fashioned appraisal system, focus on staff wellbeing, and support professional development. Abbey Gate had been using Emotie for 5 months, then along came the pandemic, and immediately critical decisions needed to be made. Abbey Gate decided to focus on the mental wellbeing of their staff, and looking back with the advantage of hindsight, Gavin is pleased that they did.

How are you doing?

Being a teacher means having little time to do anything else. This is why using Emotie to understand the mental wellbeing of the staff, through its efficient and user-friendly emoji checking-in system enables Abbey Gate to know exactly how each person is feeling and if they need any additional support.

Gavin or one of his colleagues makes a point of replying to each and every check-in they receive, good, great or otherwise. It’s a quick and simple acknowledgment that they’ve been heard and he or one of the other Abbey Gate staff is there for them should they need them.

The Emotie platform has been tailored exactly to Abbey Gate’s specifications. They wanted it to be as quick and simple to use as possible with no pressure for the employee to have to write lengthy or indeed any text at all. If they simply want to check in with only an emoji to represent how they feel, that is perfectly fine, indeed, if they choose not to check in at all, that is also understood. Abbey Gate uses Emotie to ensure their staff are understood, heard, and have support, to start conversations which otherwise may not have taken place.

What’s next for Abbey Gate and Emotie?

The focus for the future is all about extending the role of the wellbeing check-in as well as professional development and coaching, allowing staff the time to have conversations about training and access to support in order to continue forward on their professional teaching journey. They intend to work on long term planning, using Emotie to create new bespoke modules for setting professional intentions.

About Abbey Gate College

Abbey Gate College is the longest running, independent, co-educational school for pupils aged 4 to 18 in Chester. The peaceful surroundings and excellent pastoral care allows for a welcoming and calm environment for children to study in. They believe education is about building self-esteem, adopting a love of learning and igniting a desire in all their students, to ensure they fulfil their academic and personal potential.

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