A teacher wellbeing support service has been launched in Bradford to provide free and anonymous support for all school staff to help them cope with the mounting pressures they are facing during the pandemic.
The school staff wellbeing support service is funded by the Bradford Opportunity Area, a scheme created four years ago to help unlock the potential of young people in Bradford. In association with a network of local NHS commissioned providers (the Centre for Applied Educational Research, Healthy Minds, and the Bradford Clinical Commissioning Group), they will deliver this service to schools across Bradford.
Together, they are providing trained counsellors for all school staff, from headteachers to teachers at all levels, so they can access the emotional and practical support they need. They first sent out e-leaflets in December 2020 to every Bradford school, as well as a telephone number, to access the various avenues of support, which includes counselling sessions, webinars, practical advice, and support messaging boards.
Christian Bunting, director at Bradford Birth to 19 Teaching School Alliance and Bradford Opportunity Area board member, said:
“Teaching staff are suffering terrible pressures to keep teaching to the highest possible standard, due to the harsh reality of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place.
“I can see firsthand schools across Bradford working incredibly hard. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed, and it is only right that we do our best to support their mental wellbeing”.
The pandemic has created additional stresses to the already challenging profession. Teachers are facing pressures that they have never dealt with before with trying to deliver their students’ education outside of the classroom. These pressures will continue when schools reopen tomorrow, as teachers will need to support children in catching up on the schoolwork they are behind on, and the cancellation of England’s A-Levels and GCSE exams have created more uncertainty for teachers and students alike.
A teacher who has already accessed the school staff wellbeing support service is Lynette Clapham, executive headteacher of Crossley Hall and Grove House Primary School. She said:
“Many teaching staff are at breaking point and in need of this support. We have never experienced pressure like this before and wellbeing support has never been more crucial to teaching staff. I only hope that the service can continue beyond the pandemic to ensure teachers across Bradford are equipped with support should they need it.
“My colleagues who have accessed the service have remarked how incredibly grateful they are to have access to it. Sometimes staff may not feel completely comfortable going to a school leader and have appreciated that the sessions are with an individual who is not directly involved with their school”.
Despite the reopening of schools on the 8 March, the additional pressures that teachers are facing may continue to mount – with the cancellation of exams and their returning students having to adjust back to school life and catch up on the education they have missed. The school staff wellbeing service is aiming to make teachers’ own adjustment go as smoothly as possible, and to ensure they are not made to struggle alone at what is perhaps the hardest period of their careers.