I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about what we have to do to address the mental health issues in our schools.
Tom Bennett tweet
As Tom well knows, I am a big fan of creating an evidence-based profession, but this I know from mere experience: Relationships matter in schools above everything else.
Local Authority resources are dwindling. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are shrinking. As the gaps in provision for children suffering mental health issues appear in front of us like sink holes, the instinct is to fill those gaps but I’m not sure whether we can; as Sam Freedman has pointed out, schools face a minimum of a 10% cut in school funding during the next parliament, whichever political party is elected. And don’t let anyone kid you that the Pupil Premium funding is new money…
Efficiency savings = fewer people doing more. If we are losing some essential Local Authority support services, then I think every single adult in our schools needs to be professionally trained in supporting the emotional well-being of our children. The aggregation of the marginal gains of each and every adult’s enhanced ability to relate more effectively to the children in our care will go a long way to remedying the mental ills of our young people.  What students want from us is quite simple really…
10 things students want educators to know
Every teacher speaks to every child in every lesson. A simple policy which really works.
Professor Tanya Byron has launched a Children’s Mental Health manifesto in conjunction with journalist Rosemary Bennett and the YOUNG MINDS Charity; sign up on the link below:
Times Child Mental Health
And what is the unnecessarily pressurised culture in our schools doing to our colleagues? Have a listen to this week’s episode of File on Four called Sick of School to find out.
sick of school
Joe Strummer is so last century, but I stand by every word he says here.

Children will not learn from you if they don’t like you. Watch and listen to Rita Pierson…and learn.

Meet Maddie. I know her. She’s truly remarkable…

Love not fear…one might argue that the legacy of the last ten years of education in our country is record rates of children’s mental health issues and a teacher retention crisis. How on earth have we let that happen? In Roland S Barth’s words, We educators have taken learning, a wonderful, spontaneous capacity of all human beings, and coupled it with punitive measures. What he goes on to say should be a rallying call for anyone in education who cares for the mental health of our children: Achieving [a] better way [of doing things] takes recognition of and moral outrage at ineffective practices, confidence that there is a better way, and the courage and invention to find it and put it in place. Have those of us working in schools the courage and invention to stand up and find a better way?
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This post has 11 Comments

  1. Agree with every word. But there is also a case to be made to have a counsellor available a couple of days a week. And even this is a drop in the ocean. My husband does this in a local school and there are just some things that children have to have significant one to one attention for. His school believes that it impacts on attendance and their results as well as just being a decent thing to do. Not cheap, but necessary.

  2. stumbled upon your blog very innocently – looking for a way to energize my son – a 17 year old boy – who is far more interested in anything but writing and reading. I found your “I know this much about teaching boys writing…..” post and I agree with every it of it, how do I get his teachers to read it and act on it? I teach 8th grade science and love your ‘ten things’ graphic above. Good post. Thanks for leading your students. Have a wonderful week.

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  4. Hi John
    hope your all well?
    Having a staff INSET tomorrow on young people’s mental health and just thought of your work on this and of course the new book, just to say I have just passed some of your blog post on this onwards.
    Looking forward to the book!
    What three things do you do to take account the issues with teachers health both mental and physical?
    THanks for the continued brain food

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