New support is being made available for teachers experiencing “secondary traumatisation” as a result of supporting pupils who have had a traumatic experience.
Experts say teachers can suffer a decline in physical or mental health, leaving them at breaking point, after dealing with pupil trauma.
But a new national centre, set up by Leeds Beckett University, aims to create more opportunities for “supervision” of teachers, of the type received by paramedics and social workers, in which they can reflect face-to-face in confidential meetings about the impact their work has had on them.
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The National Hub for Supervision in Education will provide in-school training for teachers, including headteachers, Sendcos and safeguarding leads. These recipients will then go away and set up supervision for staff in their own schools, whilst being supported by an experienced external supervisor.
Around 20 dedicated "supervisors" are also being recruited to work with schools across the country.
Protecting teacher mental health
Lisa Lea-Weston, of the Talking Heads charity, which is a partner in the centre, said: “Over their careers, school staff can be involved in so many traumatic situations with regards to safeguarding and children’s mental health.
“In the case of a headteacher, they might be dealing with multiple individuals involved in the same incident, including a traumatised child, a social worker and teachers who themselves may have been traumatised.
“Headteachers have to carry all of that and they can’t talk about it to anyone because it’s confidential. That kind of pressure builds and remains in the body.”
The university says pupils with mental health issues are increasingly turning to their already-under-pressure schools for support.
Professor Damien Page, dean of the university's Carnegie School of Education, said: “Supporting a child who has had a traumatic experience is often a traumatic experience in itself and educators are sometimes experiencing secondary traumatisation leading to physical or mental ill-health.
"Supervision meaningfully intervenes in this cycle and can return a compassionate stability.
“The Hub will provide much-needed support for schools so their staff are best placed to cope with the demands of their roles, and able to focus on their core role, which is providing the best possible educational and pastoral experiences for their pupils.”
A Supervision in Education Award is also being established so that schools can be recognised as educational providers that understand the impact of supporting children’s increasing mental health and safeguarding needs.
An annual conference taking place in June 2020 will profile innovative and proven work, and deepen the understanding of supervision.