Place2Be in a Place of Learning

Palce2Be Clinician talking to student teachers

At the end of September a new partnership between the University of Glasgow and Place2be was established with the overarching goal of developing mentally healthy classrooms and schools. Place2be is the UK’s largest children’s in-school mental health provider who support over 700 primary and secondary schools across Scotland, England and Wales. In 30 years of supporting schools an important focus alongside the therapeutic work with students has been supporting staff wellbeing and development. Teaching is a relationally demanding job where a teacher daily manages a whole host of relationships within the school community (Place2Be, 2023a). Place2be is part of a national conversation with the desire to develop more support for teachers and give them opportunities to reflect and discharge, develop better understanding of children’s mental health, understand the impact that children’s realities have on them and to make sense of their own experiences (2023a).

The  partnership aim is to develop emotionally resilient student teachers who will be able to support and contribute to healthy school communities. A mentally healthy classroom  cannot be separated from the teacher’s approach and understanding of emotional wellbeing. Together with Place2be the School of Education recognises the need to expand ITE students teachers understanding of children’s mental health and the need to  establish mentally healthy routines and practices for their own self-care at the start of their teacher development  so that they can manage the demands of teaching and enjoy a fulfilling career (Place2Be, 2023b).

To achieve this the partnership approach will focus on providing expert advice and direct input on child and adolescent mental health, developing skills and strategies that can be applied in the classroom. As the partnership takes form and becomes embedded within the ITE department the teaching, information, resources and workshops will be tailored to meet the needs of the students, develop understanding and build capacity.

An integral part of the partnership is the bespoke ‘Place2Think’ sessions offered to the ITE students and staff. Place2Think is a unique reflective space within education focused on stimulating productive conversations about emotional resilience, mental health and wellbeing. This reflective non-judgemental space is designed to support the requirement of The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS, 2021) places a requirement on student teachers to be reflective practitioners. From research we know that becoming reflective entails painful self-exploration can be a disorienting process for many. It can involve looking at themes like their teacher agency, making sense of behaviours and relationships in the classroom, the impact on personal circumstances on your professional performance, exploring and articulating a clear sense of purpose, owning their own strengths and weaknesses,  developing their ability to identify the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their efficacy, develop their emotional self- awareness to understand what promotes or destroys their sense of wellbeing. Many students are often at a stage of life where they are discovering their own identity so this is not a quick process.

Having a space like Place2Think embedded in the ITE department compliments this process to help the student teachers understand themselves, become better teachers and be kinder to themselves and students. The work in Place2think sessions is to help the students move from being reflective to being reflexive within the classroom (Place2Be, 2023a).

A positive start to the partnership has been made in the first term and students have started to access Place2Think experience how this reflective space supports their emotional wellbeing and teacher development. The Place2be clinician looks forward to continuing to build on this and see the partnership develop to serve  the shared goal of Place2be and School of Education of Mentally heathy thriving teachers and school communities.

Comments made by students: 

  • ‘I feel resilient now after talking about my situation in Place2Think’ 
  • ‘I felt the medical support I was accessing was not helping me to manage the anxiety I feel in relation to my University course. From Place2Think I feel like I have something that will help me go forward.’ 
  • ‘I can’t believe how much lighter I feel. I felt so heavy going into school and now a big load has been lifted off me.’ 

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