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Gary Wilkie - CEO the Learning in Harmony Trust

Why I'll be at TeachWellFest 2019

We are delighted to be hosting the second TeachWellFest at one of our schools, as it matches our values of investing heavily in staff and pupils’ wellbeing.

As an education leader for over 30 years and as the CEO of a MAT with almost 1000 staff,

I’m often asked what would make the life of a teacher less stressful. I imagine that the expected answer would be a variation of one of these themes - less marking, more CPD, getting rid of SATs, changing the inspection framework. I’m sure that some, if not all, of these suggestions might make a difference. I’m not sure though whether any of these external factors could really make a long-term difference to the most of the teachers that I know. Teaching isn’t a science within which we can be certain that changing one input will have the expected impact upon the output.

Teaching is not just a ‘people profession’, it’s a profession that is full of people who care – sometimes too much. Whilst as a profession we might be better off if the external pressures upon us were removed, I’d strongly suggest that the pressures that we put upon ourselves would only increase exponentially if they were. Indeed, most teachers don’t just desire to improve the life chances of their pupils, they feel that they need to justify the difference they are making to others but also to themselves.

Is this any wonder that teachers are so stressed? For very many in our profession it wouldn’t matter what an Ofsted inspector, or league table told them about their successes, their attention is always on what they haven’t achieved yet because there is always another vulnerable child or pupil who ‘slipped through the net’ and didn’t quite leave school achieving what they are capable of.

That’s why events such as TeachWellFest are so important. We need to remember to put on our own oxygen masks so that we can be in the best possible state to face our challenges. Perhaps the first step is to accept that we have chosen a career within which these challenges will never end, but that there are thousands of teachers just like us who are continually adding to their armoury to not just make them a better teacher but more able to face the personal challenges that teaching brings.

As a group of schools, the Learning in Harmony Trust are determined to tackle staff and pupil wellbeing head on because that’s the only way that we are going to secure the best possible future for all of our people. We’re proud to host this event at Hartley and hope that you have a fantastic day coming away feeling positive about the difference that you are making in your school armed with even more ideas that will inspire you and those you work with.