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Stressed heads get free 'MOTs'

A TRIP to the seaside, a slap-up dinner and a free health check was how a county council chose to reward its hard-working heads.

More than 200 heads from Warwickshire gathered in a top Bournemouth hotel last week, to recharge their batteries, share professional experiences and sample activities, ranging from T'ai chi to Indian head massage.

Instead of the usual demands of a Thursday and Friday in school, they were able to sit back in the plush surroundings of the Swallow Highcliff hotel, and listen to speakers chosen to refresh and rejuvenate them.

Conquering stress was the event's key theme and the ann-ouncement that the authority had teamed up with Warwickshire's health authority to provide all heads with a free health MOT to monitor stress levels, screen for illness and give lifestyle advice, was greeted with rapturous applause.

Spirits were further boosted by a three-course dinner followed by an impromptu performance of "Let's do the crazy handjive" by a group of energetic delegates.

The whole event seemed to be appreciated enormously by the heads, but there was also a strong feeling that that such a treat should be extended to all teachers.

Ken lark, head of Binley Woods primary school, Coventry, said: "It's been an invigorating and thought-provoking couple of days and brilliant to spend time chatting with colleagues. But we should also be thinking about how to reward teachers. Those in the classroom are under as much stress and strain as we are."

The conference, which cost the council pound;40,000, was the idea of Eric Wood, chief education officer of Warwickshire, which was one of only three authorities to receive the top grade by inspectors in its most recent Office for Standards in Education report.

He said: "It may be a lot of money but it is an investment that will bring benefits to every school in the county. It is vitally important that we take good care of our headteachers."

Lesley King, head of Nicholas Chamberlaine secondary school, Bedworth, said that many of the heads would also pay quite a high price for their trip to the seaside.

She said: "I've had a really great time but I bet I'm not the only one who will now have to go home and spend the weekend working to make up for being away for two days. And by Sunday night I'll probably be so knackered I'll need to be taken away again!"

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