The most toxic environment on the planet – or at least in my experience in the UK.
Now before I get accused of binary thinking, let me expand.
There’s news that mental health issues are engulfing children under 16 and what’s so obvious to me as a teacher is that it’s the educational arena that is largely responsible for it. I know I sound like a stuck record. But schools made me repeatedly ill and others I know and they’re doing the same to our children.
Even today it’s reported that there’s only intervention at crisis point – see this report.
We all know schools are underfunded – the free school and academy model was designed to emasculate local authority control and destroy what Michael Gove referred to as “the blob” (the left-leaning teaching profession). In the past 6 or 7 years, education has become a business and businesses exist to make money not create welfare and happiness generally.
The new type of headteachers surround themselves with business types who like them have as much emotional intelligence as a frog (apologies to frogs). If sums don’t add up, start pruning the staff tree and remove the expensive and stubborn branches (I hesitate to call it dead wood as that implies experience has no place in schools).
But children are suffering too.
Staff vacancies are chronic and burnout of teachers is endemic and the ones who lose out are students.
Take a school locally as an example – all support staff, including Teaching Assistants, Mentors and even the Librarian were made redundant but the bloated layers of management expanded further.
Would a child suffering from anxiety, stress, depression seek out some emotionless data-shuffling senior leader who is running the accounts or would they talk to a librarian, a TA, the Work Experience Co-ordinator about their problems?
Rhetorical question by the way – any child would go to the school carers not the leaders in high schools.
Same with the spate of stabbings in London. It’s not fucking rocket science to see a correlation with a 20,000 cut in police numbers and a surge in crime, is it?
What adults need when they’re depressed, stressed and anxious is a listening ear, strategies to improve their welfare, counselling, support and time.
This costs money.
When I was off long term with clinical depression and symptoms of PTSD, I had input from GPs, counsellors, trauma therapists and a loving wife and children by my side.
Children are no different to me or you.
I know of one school in Scunthorpe that has a mental health lead: Alison – but I think that’s atypical.
They need the same level of care, don’t you agree?
They need to be encouraged to talk, to ask for support, to take part in exercise and choose a different mindset.
But if schools, academies, free schools are all about results, layers of leadership and budgets, where does mental health support for its students and staff fit in?
And that, in my book, is fucking criminal.