The public is sceptical of government plans that would see teachers tasked with instilling resilience through new mental health lessons being added to the national curriculum in 2020, an extensive survey conducted by Mental Health Today has established.
Mindfulness sessions are already in place at many schools. But an emphasis on teachers “cultivating” resilience is set to become mandatory within reshaped Relationships and Sex Education syllabuses, for both primary and secondary school pupils, in September next year.
The government’s current designs for mental health lessons state: “Relationships education is most successful where teaching about positive relationships is underpinned by a wider, deliberate cultivation and practice of resilience and positive virtues in the individual. These [virtues] should include believing you can achieve goals and sticking at tasks that will help you do so, even when the reward is distant or uncertain or you come up against challenges, honesty, integrity, self-control, courage, humility, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, trustworthiness and a sense of justice.”
“There are many ways in which secondary schools should support the development of these virtues, for example by providing planned opportunities for young people to undertake social action, active citizenship and voluntary service to others locally or more widely.”
However, analysis of 1,200 responses to MHT’s Teach Me Well survey has found that a majority disagree with the government that resilience can be instilled by teachers. Strength of character, emotional control and a positive outlook, seen as key factors in overcoming challenges in life, are thought by 42 percent to be inherent traits. 30 percent feel counsellors and cognitive behavioural therapists and counsellors can help develop resilience, not teachers. Just forty two percent felt teachers could be expected to do it alone.
From the results of our survey, asking whether teachers are the most suitable candidates to carry this message to our future generations, it is an even split between yes and no.
It surely depends hugely on the teachers’ own belief in whether resilience can be coached. A recent survey by Mental Health Foundation Scotland found that 71% of teachers said they lacked the skills to help pupils with their mental health difficulties. Just over half of the teachers questioned said their job had either led to them developing a mental health problem or had made an existing condition worse. Nine out of 10 said they would like to see mental health training become a key part of initial teacher education. These teachers are demonstrating that, given the right training and preparation and support, they can learn to support the students and deliver the type of education set out in the government’s curriculum plan. What we cannot do is expect them to take this responsibility on without first being given the training they need to deliver.
Read the full article Majority feel teaching resilience in the classroom is a flawed concept
Would you like to see mental health training become part of ITT? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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