I have worked in the education service all my life teaching secondary English, as a middle and senior leader and a Local Authority consultant. Over the past few years, I have been fortunate also to work in FE colleges and Higher Education as a trainer and independent consultant. I have met more inspirational and committed teachers than I can remember, some of whom have faced the most challenging circumstances and who achieve remarkable results.
Teaching is immensely rewarding. It is also potentially very stressful. The degree of stress depends on factors such as how the school is organised, the extent of pressure to improve from Ofsted, the agenda of the current government and the social and economic context of the area the school serves.
Over the last 5 years, while working in schools, colleges and universities, I have seen teachers' stress levels rise to an unprecedented level. So much so, that we are losing almost a third of our newly qualified teachers within five years. There are reasons other than stress for this but it is often cited as one of the key factors.
There are a number of initiatives to address the mental ill-health of our young people and to kick-start programmes, especially in schools, to promote their well-being. This is very welcome and much needed. Young people who are mentally unwell become adults who are mentally unwell - and usually the longer someone is mentally ill, the worse the illness becomes and the less able they are to cope.
However, at the same time we must do the same for our teachers. Teachers who are stressed, anxious, burnt out or depressed will not be able to offer effective support to young people.
I have launched the Teach Well Alliance to redress the balance. The Teach Well Alliance is committed to working with schools, colleges and universities to promote the mental well-being of teachers, including developing strategies to identify and reduce organisational causes of staff stress and develop an effective well-being strategy.
The Teach Well Alliance believes that it should not be a question of either young people's mental health or the mental health of their teachers but an integrated approach to both.
If you would like to know more, follow @teachwellall; visit www.teachwellalliance.com; email me, Steve Waters, at email@example.com; or call me on 07504 635 431.
I look forward to working with you to support the mental health of our teachers.
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