The word “thrive” means much more than simply to survive. It conveys the notion of seizing all we have to prosper and flourish. Of holding our intellectual and spiritual self in a harmonious whole. At Barker we have determined this as our purpose to inspire everyone in our community to thrive. Over the last three years, we have developed a sustainable approach to staff wellbeing through the lens of psychological safety, understanding it is essential that the work environment is conducive to strong physical health, robust mental health, good spiritual health and supportive for all our staff.

A strategic review of the School’s Psychological Safety in 2018 – 2019 highlighted that staff at Barker are strongly aligned to the School’s Mission, Vision and Values and are passionate about contributing to the success of the School. The findings led to initiatives in leadership development, a focus on embedding a culture of continuous feedback and a priority area of staff wellbeing within the School’s Strategic Plan.

Raising mental health awareness, decreasing the stigma of mental illness, and providing a framework for which to initiate a conversation is a significant component of a healthy workplace. In 2019, we launched our whole School approach to raising mental health awareness through a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Strategy. Mental Health First Aid is a global innovative program that was inspired by the successful physical first aid model. With accredited MHFA Instructors on staff, we facilitate training for our Support Staff in the Standard (adult) program and staff in key pastoral positions participate in the Youth program. We now have over 36% of our staff accredited. This year also saw the expansion of the program to our families.

In recognition of our commitment to continuous improvement in mental health training and dedication to embed this program into our culture, Barker has been officially recognised as a Mental Health First Aid Gold Skilled Workplace 2021 - 2023.

We look forward to incorporating the Teen MHFA program into future strategy, where our secondary students are educated to identify when their peers need support and how to seek the help of a trusted adult.

We aim to ensure that all Barker students and staff are supported to develop and maintain positive mental health as we seek to continue to establish practices that are conducive to the ongoing promotion of a culture of positive wellbeing, capturing the essence of what it means to truly thrive at Barker.

Alison Binet 
Deputy Head People & Culture