NQT · Wellbeing and Staff Morale

Success Criteria for a Staff Social

I’ve been relatively quiet on the blogging front for the past couple of weeks. This is partly due to the excitement of half term taking over my very soul. However, it’s also because my brain has been a little pre-occupied by pre-hosting nerves. (Or, perhaps more accurately, overwhelming panic.) My worries were the typical ‘What if no one shows up?’, ‘What if everyone has a miserable time?’ and ‘What if I dribble my pimms down my chin as I talk to the governors?’ moments that all hosts experience. Right?

Now, before you all continue reading this post expecting me to detail each and every moment of a hideous car crash staff social…it was actually a great evening. (Or so I’ve been lead to believe by a reasonable amount of people – some drunk but thankfully some sober a few days later too!) I thought I’d make a note of what people told me made it a successful event in order to remind myself for future occasions and hopefully aid others who wish to organise such events.

Band Together

The social was undoubtedly successful thanks to all the help we received. Initially, I hoped to have a food van for the event but this proved expensive and many were unavailable for the necessary date. Instead, the Chair of Governors liaised with the ‘Men in School’ and they provided an amazing BBQ for all. The food was incredible and it created such a lovely, communal atmosphere chatting to members of the school community as opposed to having a food van purely for the purpose of serving us. One of the headteachers provided magnums following the BBQ which were, of course, gratefully received. Additionally, one of the teachers had fantastic cocktail making skills and she created some amazing concoctions along with the other colleague who organised the event. I can’t even bare to think about the horror I’d have created if I’d attempted to make the cocktails.

The site manager went on a hunt for a jug suitable for pimms and gave me much-needed logistical advice whilst the display and resources assistant made some impeccably stylish labels for the drink dispensers. A friend on the PGCE course was at the school for the afternoon to do some writing moderation and she was such an invaluable member of the set up team too. Walking into the staff room to witness her and the school’s learning mentor desperately pumping up an inflatable limbo game was a brilliant sight. Many staff helped carry stuff out and pack it away at the end of the event and others brought along food and drink supplies. (Quick shoutout to one of the teaching assistants, the learning mentor and a new staff member who brought some invaluable food/drink necessities.) I’m so grateful for them all and it was so heartwarming to see everyone come together to make the best of the occasion.

Publicise It

One of the best things I noticed at the social was that a lot of people attended who I’d never seen at a staff social since I joined in September. I feel this was partly due to the fact that the event was arguably publicised as prominently as the General Election. I practically shoved obnoxious, brightly-coloured posters down everyone’s throats to ensure the whole universe was aware of its occurrence. I’m so grateful also that the amazing catering staff (who, just as an aside, work incredibly hard each and every day and never expect any credit) popped a poster up in the kitchen. However, I also announced it numerous times at staff briefings (sorry not sorry) and ensured that I’d emailed out to PTFA, Governors and Men in School as well as staff to ensure that all the people that contribute so positively to the school were aware.

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No Fixed Seating

Don’t get me wrong: I love food. But sometimes sit-down meals can prove difficult because you spend the majority of the night with two or three individuals despite the fact you’re out with a large number of people. Now, I’m such an unapologetically sociable creature that I could probably make polite dinner conversation with Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins if it were necessary, however, the fast-paced, mingley (is that even an adjective!?) nature of a social with no fixed seating can be more exciting and enjoyable than being rooted in one place for the evening. It’s a great opportunity to get to know people in a non-pressurised context and also to touch base with those you haven’t managed to catch up with for a while.

 

Keep It Local

The event took place at the school. This meant that all attendees were able to come and go as they pleased. On the whole, it eliminated the need for faffing and paying extortionate amounts for taxis too. There was no entry fee and no being jostled about by strangers desperately clawing to reach the front of a bar. We were also able to easily use many of the resources available to us at school, such as the Coomber for music or the space hoppers for…well…space hopper races, to provide simple yet enjoyable entertainment.

No Extortionate Costs

As mentioned earlier, there was no need to organise a taxi to and from the event. People were invited to stay straight after school and join in the preparations (aka cocktail tasting) to avoid the need to go home and then return again. Furthermore, the event was BYOB but food and drink were provided too. Therefore, there was no need for people to constantly weigh up their budget throughout the night and no one was obliged to split a bill or get a round if they didn’t feel it was necessary. I must admit, I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve spent more time considering my expenditure for the night than actually enjoying myself and I hope there was no need for that during this event.

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“It was just easy”

This is what a staff member told me today. It struck me as odd at first because one would assume that no social events should be complicated but to be honest, sometimes they can become logistical nightmares when it’s necessary to organise mass transport, schedule movement between different venues or split a hefty bill.

Looking to the future

I’ve waffled far too much for one blog post. Clearly I’ve missed the process of rambling aimlessly with my fingers on the keyboard. There are many other people I’m thankful to for ensuring everyone (or at least those I’ve spoken to since) had an enjoyable time and I’m sure there are other factors that contributed to people enjoying themselves. I’m certainly no host (I much prefer being offered a gin and tonic and then sidling away from any form of responsibility) but I definitely love seeing people have a good time.

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