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You don't have to be mad... but we can cover you

The National Association of Head Teachers makes no bones about it. School leadership can give you a nervous breakdown.

That is why it is offering its 31,000 members the peace of mind of knowing that they can insure against going out of theirs.

In order to make the association's private medical insurance scheme sound appealing, John Randall, its commercial development manager, has written to members highlighting one great advantage of joining CS Healthcare, a not-for-profit friendly society which specialises in health cover for public servants.

His covering letter says in bold: "As the preferred provider of healthcare to the NAHT, CS Healthcare offers all school leaders an exclusive benefit of up to pound;1,000 of out-patient psychiatric treatment when you join."

David Gibbard, head of Dunsford primary school in Exeter, was one of the lucky recipients of this attractive offer.

He said: "It is a widely held notion these days that you have to be pretty mad to become a teacher, almost certainly mad to become a head.

"I was nevertheless surprised to have this confirmed over my toast and marmalade."

But Mr Randall, defending his letter, said: "It is not that at all. It is just that it is recognised that in the profession, especially over the last few years, stress is particularly high.

"So we have negotiated with CS Healthcare for psychiatric out-patient care to be included in the plan, rather than as an extra premium so our members are not penalised for working in a relatively high-stress occupation."

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