A primary school sent stressed teachers on a 10 week wellbeing programme – here’s what happened

More than 3,750 teachers were signed off on long-term sick leave last year due to pressures of work, anxiety and mental illness. iNews reports.

A YouGov survey last year found 75 per cent of teachers in the UK reported symptoms of stress compared with just 62 per cent of the general working population. Shockingly, the suicide risk for primary school teachers is nearly double the national average.

One school in South London has decided to tackle stress head on. Teachers and support staff at Charlton Manor Primary School in Greenwich have just completed a new 10-week wellbeing programme designed to bolster physical and mental health.

Charlton Manor is the first school to pilot the Thriving Teachers scheme, run by former pupil Ruth Tongue and co-founder Lucy Faulks. 

The Thriving Teachers programme is composed of 10 half-hour group workshops. It includes ways to recognise feelings of stress, warning signs of depression and cultivating optimism. Practical applications include mindfulness techniques, good nutrition, sleep and exercise.

Schools might not all have the budget to invest in wellbeing training for teachers. But Tongue and Faulks are hoping to find sponsorship in future and to persuade individual schools that the programme is training budget well spent.

At Charlton Manor, the stress-busting programme has been worked into the weekly staff meeting. Tongue and Faulks spend half an hour with support staff, including dinner ladies, cleaners and administrators, then another half an hour with the teachers and head teachers. The sessions are supported by five-minute podcasts the staff can download themselves.

“These are things that we have previously thought about, of course. But, before doing the course staff talked about these things in regard to the children rather than for themselves” said  the headteacher, Tim Baker.

Baker says he has been personally thanked by a number of teachers, which has surprised him. “They’ve all said they’ve benefited and felt that it was very supportive. It was something coming from leadership [the headteacher] that they felt was an investment in them as people.

Read more about the programme A primary school sent stressed teachers on a 10 week wellbeing programme – here’s what happened 

Would you be interested if a wellbeing programme was introduced at your school? Is your school currently doing anything to help staff wellbeing? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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