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PISA 2018 – 4.2 Viv Grant & How are the Children

In a discussion of the “mental health crisis” among children in the UK in October 2019 (broadcast on ABC RN’s Big Ideas in February 2019), Viv Grant, former school principal and now executive coach at Integrity Coaching, recalled that when the Masai of Kenya greet each other they ask, “How are the children?”: “things can’t be fully good for one person or the community unless all the children are thriving”.

She enumerated three things which schools must do if they are to play the vitally important central role of ensuring children thrive: prepare teachers for the classroom, pursue the development of the whole person in the child and provide some form of ongoing personal support for school leaders which will help them cope with the demands of the position and safeguard their health and that of the children.

Grant observed that teachers have to rediscover their joy and passion in teaching so that children will also. And the school leader is vital in creating a climate where everyone in the school thrives.

IN telling her own story Grant recalled that the emotional toll of dealing with the mental and emotional behaviour of children and sometimes staff was vast and how the “accountability filter” isolated her from those who might give support. She told also of how the education system was being used by politicians from all sides to score points off one another, teachers bullied into accepting ever changing initiatives based more on ideology than a holistic approach to education.

Trying to help a mother support her son whom she thought could excel if the right choices were made, she was abused for telling her how to raise her child: she should be at home looking after her own children!