The Duchess of Cambridge has praised teachers for being a “lifeline” for families but urged them “please look after yourselves”.
Kate’s comments came during a series of video calls with teachers and staff from Ribbon Academy, County Durham, which has been holding classes for the children of key workers and supporting home learning.
Speaking during Children’s Mental Health Week to headteacher Ashleigh Sheridan, the duchess said: “Schools are doing an amazing job, as parents you really recognise what a vital role you do play for us on a day to day basis – having remote learning as well.”
The duchess asked about the mental health of parents and was told by teacher Louise Tweedie the pandemic will encourage schools to prioritise mental health.
Kate, who held the one-to-one video calls on Tuesday, added: “I totally agree. (I’m) so passionate about all the works that teachers up and down the country are doing. You are doing the most amazing job.
“You are a lifeline to so many families out there. I know it takes an awful lot of effort, energy, patience.”
It's #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek: what are you doing to mark the week? It's not too late to get involved! 💛
— Place2Be (@Place2Be) February 1, 2021
Ribbon Academy and Place2Be, a charity which provides mental health support in schools, have been working in partnership since 2002 to provide teachers and school workers with the tools they need to support the psychological wellbeing of children, parents and staff.
The duchess also spoke to Chris Reay, a high-level teaching and learning partner, who attended Place2Be sessions as a child after a traumatic life event, and is now working at the school in the village of Murton near Durham.
Kate, who is royal patron of Place2Be, said: “I know this time has been really challenging for teachers across the country. You play such a vital role in looking after our children so it’s important that you are looked after to.
“I want to say a massive thank you to teachers across the country. You’re doing a fantastic job. It’s been really, really hard work. But please look after yourselves.”
Teachers, parents and children have all faced the pressures of living in lockdown while maintaining a semblance of school life.
The headteacher told the duchess the school was replicating what happens in school at home, with pupils given mobile phone and Zoom appointments to talk about issues, if needed.
She added: “The pandemic has exposed mental health issues everywhere. Hopefully that awareness and need to have secure mental health will be recognised across the country.”
Teacher Hannah Rispin told the duchess that each morning of remote learning begins with children eagerly talking about their family life.
She added: “Seeing the children succeed in such a devastating time, it makes you feel a bit emotional. They are like shining stars. I feel privileged to be experiencing this with our little heroes every day.”
Kate laughed and said: “We need more people like you out there as a workforce.”