In a profession facing high workloads, rising stress levels and a recruitment and retention crisis, it can be tough to shake off the January blues.
But staff at one primary school were crying tears of joy when they returned for the new term, as they were surprised with a shiny new staffroom – intended as a thank-you for all their hard work.
With the help of a secret online fundraising page, a group of "amazing" parents in Bristol raised £750 to transform the space for the dedicated teachers, support staff and cleaners at Crockerne School.
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Appealing for donations, they wrote: "Teachers' workloads have increased a lot over the last few years and we want them to know how much we appreciate their continued time and effort.
"The mental wellbeing of our teachers is incredibly important and we want to support them in this small way by investing some of our time and money in providing this space for them."
Before the makeover
With the help of some of the pupils, the parents completed the majority of the work in one day over the Christmas break, so the staff would be surprised on their first day back at school.
We have returned to school today to find that the parents have raised some money and revamped our staff room as a surprise. They wanted to show how much they care about the work we do. We have shed a little tear and we are extremely happy to be here. pic.twitter.com/Y35cOtFoKt— Lara Furmidge (@furmidge_lara) January 6, 2020
They completely revamped the space, treating the staff to new window fittings; a coffee machine; comfy office chairs; potted plants, herbs and flowers; and much more, including a lidded coffee cup for every member of staff.
The staff members also received handwritten labels hung over the workstation with messages of appreciation from parents and children.
After the makeover
Co-headteacher Lara Furmidge was one of the very few staff members tipped off about the makeover before the holidays.
"I popped in and this building was just full of parents," she said.
"They were painting, they were cleaning the sofas – they painted all the walls, they changed the doors in the kitchen, they put in plants…We have got a real coffee machine, which we have never had. That must be what 60 Minute Makeover is like.
"The [number] of parents that were there was just incredible. There must have been close to 20 on site. I have been here 16 years. It is quite a magical community; they are really supportive. They just wanted to say thank you."
Ms Furmidge said the staff were overwhelmed by the gesture, which will "go a big way to making a difference".
"When staff came in on Monday, there were tears," she said. "I walked in and one of my staff members was having a little cry. They are just amazed that somebody has done this for them. They do a lot for other people, but somebody has done it for them.
"It is a very stressful place to be, at school. I don't see it getting any less stressful any time soon. But to just have a group of people who appreciate what you do and have shown their appreciation…is just great.
"We are very open with our parents. They know the job is hard work and they know what budget pressures are. The staffroom would be at the bottom of the list – we don't spend money on ourselves.
"I think they just wanted to say thank you. They are an amazing bunch of people."