Teachers are being given time off school to go Christmas shopping to help improve their wellbeing and mental health.
St Paul’s Church of England primary in Swanley, Kent, says the gesture is meant as a ‘thank-you’ to hard-working staff who go ‘above and beyond’ to help pupils.
It added that all absences would be ‘covered’ by colleagues and no child would miss out on teaching time.
Teachers are being given time off school to go Christmas shopping to help improve their wellbeing. The school is just seven miles away from Bluewater, one of Britain’s largest shopping centres [File photo]
And it seems other schools are adopting ‘wellbeing days’ in December so teachers can hit the high streets without their children and reconnect with friends and family.
But the move has been criticised by traditionalists who say it is setting a bad example to children.
And they add it is hypocritical of teachers to have time off during term when parents face fines of £60 for taking children out of school.
The move came to light this week when James Johnson, a teacher of Years 1 and 2 at St Paul’s, said on Twitter: ‘Oh my goodness! It’s happened again. I love this. Our head allows every member of staff to have a Christmas shopping day.
‘He covers that person for the day. It’s so great to work for a school that values wellbeing.’
The school is just seven miles away from Bluewater, one of Britain’s largest shopping centres.
A teacher at Langshott Primary School in Horley, Surrey, also said they get a half day for Christmas shopping – but later deleted the comment. St Paul’s Church of England primary in Swanley, Kent, says the gesture is meant as a ‘thank-you’ to hard-working staff [File photo]
Headmaster Ben Hulme said the move was aimed at tackling ‘the issues regarding teacher recruitment and retention in education over recent years’.
‘Staff mental health and well-being nationally is at an all-time low,’ he said. ‘As a headteacher, I am keen to do all I can to support, nurture and retain the best staff I can for St Paul’s.
‘This is a way for me to say thank you to staff for going above and beyond what is asked of them day in, day out, such as spending a weekend away on a residential trip or staying at school to help run a movie night for the children to enjoy.’
He personally covers the teachers on their days off, with other non-teaching roles also covered internally within the school.
‘As a result, no teaching time is lost for any child and there is no disruption to the day-to-day running of the school,’ Mr Hulme said. The move has drawn support online from dozens of teachers, many of whom say other schools have adopted the policy.
Primary school teacher Stephanie Brown said: ‘What a wonderful gesture. I know of a few schools who do this and the staff are so thankful for this day.’
While another teacher Sarah Wilson said: ‘We get a half day – it’s much appreciated. For all teachers and teaching assistants.’
Teacher Naomi Takeda said: ‘We have a wellbeing week in December which culminates in a day off on the Friday for all staff and students to reconnect with family and friends.’
A teacher at Langshott Primary School in Horley, Surrey, also said they get a half day for Christmas shopping – but later deleted the comment.
However, Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, believes the initiative is an ‘indulgence that schools cannot afford to do’.
The measure was ‘another example of staff setting a poor example’ at a time when ‘we’re fining parents who take their children out during term time on holiday,’ the former head said.
More than 9,000 parents in Kent have been fined for taking their children out of school during term over the last four years – one of the highest rates in the country.
Mr McGovern added: ‘It sets a terrible example to people and I’m afraid it means that teachers are going to be “de-professionalised” and no one is going to take them seriously if this is what they’re doing. They should be putting the education of children first.
‘If teachers want to be respected, they need to set an example by turning up for the job and doing it well. Going Christmas shopping is a bit of a disgrace.’