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Professor Peter Fonagy to join Government school staff wellbeing expert advisory group

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre is to join a new expert advisory group, chaired by the Department for Education, to advise the Department, Multi-Academy Trusts and local authorities on the wellbeing of school and college leaders and teachers.

The welcome announcement was made by the Secretary of State Damian Hinds at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference in Birmingham.

The group will provide expert advice and work with the Department to understand the causes of poor teacher and leader mental health and understand what the department can do, in partnership with the sector, to help schools promote good wellbeing. The advice and insight offered by the group will help inform the direction of leader and teacher wellbeing policy.

Professor Peter Fonagy said: “We very much welcome this new initiative from the DfE and look forward to supporting schools to promote school staff wellbeing. The focus on children’s mental health serves as an important reminder to us that we must couple support for school staff with the ambitions we have for children’s wellbeing. If we don’t, we will not only be letting down all school staff but also the children and young people who they are so selflessly committed to. If we want our school staff to do what’s asked of them, then we need to make sure that their mental health and wellbeing is effectively supported,” says Professor Peter Fonagy, CEO at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

“Teaching is a tough and all too often unsupported job. It can be immensely rewarding but also physically and emotionally draining. Safeguarding and mental health issues can be intense and complex to manage. Children’s behavioural and emotional problems are increasing in severity. Many schools recognise this and provide support for their staff. But if we want to make sure that teachers stay in the job they love, we need to make sure that all schools fully understand how to look after staff and are given the support to make this happen.

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, at the beginning of the school year, called on all Local Education Authorities and the schools they work with to make this school year a wellbeing year for school staff. The Centre also published resources, Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing and Supporting staff wellbeing in schools, to promote staff wellbeing in schools. Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing, co-produced by school staff including members of the Centre’s Schools in Mind network, aims to support senior leaders in schools to promote wellbeing. This resource also aims to reflect on the concerns raised, share best practice case studies of approaches adopted by schools, and to raise questions for consideration so that school leaders can think about the way forward in their settings.