Cue lots of metaphors about being on a journey. Brace yourselves!
The road to whole school wellbeing is not a sprint. It's more like a multi-marathon. A tough mudder, obstacle clad, 'this is sparta' style multi-marathon. OK perhaps I'm exaggerating but plain sailing it is not. Nor should it be. The road to whole school wellbeing should be paved with practices to try on for size, keep, adjust or discard, as appropriate.
I already mentioned this path started for me as I took on Anti-Bullying at school. Having heard of Anti-Bullying Pro's Ambassador scheme and thought that was the right way for us to go. With SLT approval I went about booking a day's training. For those of you unfamiliar, they do wonderful work in schools, training up young people as Anti-bullying Ambassadors. They champion anti-bullying, are there for peers to approach if they feel they are being bullied, raise awareness and organise anti-bullying activities and events. Brilliant. SLT approve, girls are excited, finances in place - we're ready to roll.
Fast forward a year from making our enquiry and application to Anti-bullying Pro and we still don't have a date for our training. This has not been a passive year either. Many phone calls, emails and a trip to London to their Professionals Conference eventually culminated in a confirmed date for training which they later cancelled.
So we now have the date in the school calendar (for those of you not working in busy schools, this is no small thing) and girls have started submitting applications. Here lies hurdle number one. We're all dressed up with no training to be had.
Having convinced colleagues and SLT for a whole year that this was the training for us and that it would be worth the wait, at this point I gave in.
Taking the decision to proceed with the date scheduled, I quickly went about finding an alternative and at the last minute, struck lucky. So it was all systems go getting the recruitment back on track.
This was far from ideal but the bonus is, we now have a gorgeous team of girls who are as diverse as they are keen. A more strategic recruitment process would probably have led me to recruit certain numbers from certain year groups, to consult with staff and pick girls out we thought would be suitable. While that approach would have also been great, and for the record far less stressful, actually the messy, last minute recruitment resulted in having a group of girls who really wanted to be involved. Not because a teacher thought they'd be good but because they felt an affinity to the role.
A very dear person once told me a great piece of advice which I have subsequently imparted at appropriate moments to others. God can't steer a still ship. Whatever you believe in whether it's God or fate or destiny or fairies, there is a great deal to be said for taking the first steps and something bigger than ourselves taking care of the rest.
Is this how I saw my team of Anti-Bullying Ambassadors coming together? No. Does it matter? Not in the least. But we have taken the first steps, there are now MSJ Anti-bullying Ambassadors in existence and the rest, we'll make up as we go.