An alternative provision multi-academy trust has extended student therapeutic services to staff to help them to manage the challenges and pressures of their work.
Speaking at the WomenEd unconference event in London on Saturday, Sarah Hardy (pictured), executive head of the TBAP Teaching School Alliance, explained how the programme, which began in September, benefits staff.
“If we are healthy and emotionally resilient then that’s the best thing for helping our children, because we are modelling that behaviour ourselves and can pass on those skills,” she said.
Before September the TBAP multi-academy trust, established in 2013 to deliver alternative provision education in west London, bought therapeutic services for its students from external organisations, such as the local authority’s child and mental health services.
But it decided to bring specialists into its team from last September.
“They are co-located within our schools, they are part of our staff team and are involved our training and CPD,” she said.
This integration allowed support services to be extended to staff through a “staff supervision programme”, to help them to manage challenging situations with students.
“At the moment the programme is quite leadership-led, it’s delivered where the head of school or executive head has identified something that needs a supportive response,” Hardy said.
If we are healthy and emotionally resilient then that’s the best thing for helping our children
She added that bringing the services in-house had given the specialists a clearer understanding of the demands of the alternative provision sector.
Support is available for a variety of situations, including domestic violence in a staff member’s personal life or a traumatic child protection issue at school.
Hardy explained how her own experiences of growing up with an alcoholic mother made her appreciate the importance of providing staff with space to reflect how their work might affect their mental health and wellbeing.
“It took me a long time to get to a point where I acknowledged that being brought up by an addict actually created a lot of difficulties in my emotional responses.”
So far, she said, the programme had worked effectively.
She spoke of the introduction of a new key stage 3 curriculum model, designed for the most disengaged students. “That group of staff was working in a new way together and they found it a challenge.
“The staff supervision is working with that team to establish a new set of principles around how they support each other so that they can then support the children.
“Instead of the staffroom nastiness and a ‘he said, she said’ culture, it allows for conversations supported by an expert who can help them to work through the issues to reach a positive conclusion together.”
Hardy discussed the new approach in a session on leadership entitled “Can I lead without compromising myself?” at the WomenEd event in Regent High School, central London.
She said she hoped it would encourage attendees to “reflect on what they are and aren’t prepared to accept in their leadership journey” and “become more self-aware”.
WomenEd will hold a national conference at Sheffield Hallam Institute of Education on September 30.