school leaders wellbeing

A mental health and wellbeing support service for school leaders will be extended after an extra £62,000 in government funding.

We are now seeing significant signs of burnout across the profession

The school leaders’ wellbeing service, a pilot scheme run by Education Support to provide online peer and telephone support to about 250 school leaders, launched last year. It was backed by £95,000 in initial Department for Education funding.

Now Vicky Ford, the children’s minister, has confirmed that “following the success of the pilot”, the support will be extended between now and August to another 160 schools.

It is not known what will happen beyond the summer.

Education Support told Schools Week the original pilot had helped 225 heads, 57 by telephone and 168 by peer support. Participants said they benefited from the “space and permission” to talk.

education recovery

Vicky Ford

The programme’s extension follows warnings from the charity that senior leaders are the “most stressed-out teachers in the sector”.

School leaders ‘most stressed’

According to Education Support’s teacher wellbeing index survey last year, 77 per cent of teachers reported they were stressed, but this jumped to 89 per cent for senior leaders.

“We are now seeing significant signs of burnout across the profession,” said Faye McGuiness, director of programmes at the charity.

“We also know that only 8 per cent of teachers say they currently have access to supervision, yet they frequently provide frontline support for increasingly vulnerable children. Being able to access a safe and confidential space to talk through challenges and experiences can really help.”

The government was warned about a “post-Covid exodus” of headteachers after a poll last year found nearly half were less than likely to remain in the role.

But figures for vacancies in January and February showed there has been lighter turnover than feared.

Ford also said the government’s new mental health action group was considering how it could support pupils and staff after the return to schools earlier this year.

Places on the support programme are free to heads and academy trust chief executives working in England. Applications can be made online.