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“The whole programme is really ground breaking in the way that it’s a genuine connection between health, the council and the school system,” added Mr Bunting.

Investing in staff well-being. How Bradford is supporting its teachers.

A comprehensive package of support has been put together to help school leaders and teachers in Bradford deal with challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The offer, which is fully-funded by the Bradford Opportunity Area, includes a bespoke programme of high-profile webinars for school leaders and a dedicated online peer support network designed to let senior education staff share concerns, issues and ideas.

The package also involves a dedicated Staff Welfare Support Service aimed at helping classroom teachers cope with the demands put on them by lockdowns and new ways of working.

Support will run throughout 2021 with the potential to roll over into next year as part of the district’s COVID-19 recovery journey.

Christian Bunting, Director of the Bradford Birth-19 Teaching School Alliance, explained: “The COVID-19 webinar programme is a school-facing meeting space with contributions from a wide range of experts in their respective field.

“The 11 bespoke webinars spaced over the course of the year include contributions from the likes of clinicians, public health professionals and educational physiology specialists from the local authority. 

“They are a recognition of the pressing need for more knowledge to be shared between organisations and they are proving extremely popular across the board.”

In addition to the online events, a peer-to peer support network has been established, aimed specifically at head teachers and members of school leadership teams. It features a message board platform that will enable members to post questions, conduct virtual conversations and share key documents. An email digest will keep leaders abreast of the latest developments in the district.

Senior leaders having difficulties coping with the stresses caused by COVID-19 will also have access to 600 hours of free counselling sessions, delivered through the Bradford Counselling Collective.

Finally, a dedicated Staff Welfare Support System – set up after feedback from headteachers identified the need for staff to be given extra emotional help during the pandemic – will operate a year-round telephone helpline, an online chat facility and provide access to wide-ranging mental health support via a new e-learning portal.

Mr Bunting added: “A significant request from the leaders who have engaged with the initiative to date was for specific welfare support for staff on the front line.

“They told us that as teachers, they were worried about each other during these challenging times.

“The school lockdown situation is completely new territory for our education professionals and they are having to effectively do a completely different job now. This can be extremely stressful and which and has the potential to affect their health and wellbeing.”

In addition to Opportunity Area funding, the initiative has benefitted from strong collaboration between Bradford Council and Bradford & Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

“The whole programme is really ground breaking in the way that it’s a genuine connection between health, the council and the school system,” added Mr Bunting.

“It is breaking down some of the silos and barriers that have existed in the past, which is absolutely what’s required if we are to manage our way out of the current crisis.”

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“The whole programme is really ground breaking in the way that it’s a genuine connection between health, the council and the school system,” added Mr Bunting.

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