Meet the man who wants to save teachers from themselves

Education Support Partnership chief executive Julian Stanley says teachers drive themselves into mental health problems because they can’t say no. Tes reports.

The Education Support Partnership took more than 8,600 calls to its helpline last year, from NQTs to headteachers, and that number is up 35 per cent from the previous year.

Stanley has taught himself, in a theatre education programme touring schools, so he knows the challenges and the culture in our education system, and he’s seen the stress on the frontline.

“People used to ask me back into their schools to teach and I got the opportunity to train professionally but I decided not to because I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I loved being in the classroom, and I could hold the room, but I remember thinking that it’s one thing doing it part-time and another doing it day-in and day-out.”

“One of the things about teachers is that they are very driven by the morals and ethics of wanting to get things right, and sometimes they struggle around the workload because they struggle with the boundary issues of saying no. And sometimes asking for help can be difficult because you can be shown to be vulnerable, especially in a school if the culture isn’t right.”

Reasons teachers call the helpline can range from pupil behaviour to problems with colleagues or mentors to insomnia caused by workload.

He’s concerned that not enough men are calling for help.

“What we’re saying is that you don’t have to be on the verge of a breakdown to ask for help. The message I’m giving is that most people at some point in their lives will need help or support.”

His charity is trying to address the roots of teacher wellbeing by changing the culture in schools. “We spend a lot of time working with leaders and middle managers on how to create a collegiate atmosphere where vulnerability is allowed to show itself,” he says.

“Because that’s where people see people as human beings. One of the things I raise with ministers at policy level is that while data systems and technical work is really important, it’s how people engage with one another in the people that is actually critical; and that’s what I mean by soft skills – actually communicating with one another, working with colleagues, prioritising what is really important here, and that helps teachers feel that they can be more vulnerable.”

Read the full article and where to get help if you need it Meet the man who wants to save teachers from themselves

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