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Duchess of Cambridge urges teachers 'look after yourselves' as she praises lockdown work

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Kate pays tribute to ‘fantastic’ teachers

The Duchess of Cambridge has encouraged teachers to look after themselves as they teach during the third lockdown across the UK.

Kate, 39, has been homeschooling her children at their Norfolk home of Anmer Hall and took some time to thank teachers in Durham for their work during the pandemic.

The duchess’s calls came during Children’s Mental Health Week as she spoke to four teachers from Ribbon Academy, praising them for being a “lifeline” for families.

She told headteacher Ashleigh Sheridan: “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.”

Reflecting on the lockdown lessons, Sheridan said: “The pandemic has exposed mental health issues everywhere.

“Hopefully that awareness and need to have secure mental health will be recognised across the country.”

Duchess of Cambridge spoke to teachers during Children's Mental Health Week. (Kensington Palace)
The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to teachers during Children's Mental Health Week. (Kensington Palace)

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In a one-to-one with another teacher, Louise Tweedie, Kate asked about the mental health of teachers, many of whom are providing lessons to children of key workers in classrooms and to other children on virtual classroom platforms.

Tweedie told the duchess their experience in the pandemic would help to prioritise mental health in schools.

Kate said: “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.”

The duchess was calling in her role as patron of Place2Be, a charity that helps provide mental health support in schools. The academy has been working with Place2Be since 2002.

Duchess of Cambridge teacher calls. (Kensington Palace)
Duchess of Cambridge with head teacher Ashleigh Sheridan. (Kensington Palace)
Duchess of Cambridge teacher calls. (Kensington Palace)
The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to teacher Hannah Rispin. (Kensington Palace)

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She spoke to Chris Reay, who attended Place2Be sessions as a child after a traumatic life event, and now works at the school as a high level teaching and learning partner.

He has completed the charity’s mental health foundation champions programme.

The duchess told him: “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 too.

“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.”

Duchess of Cambridge teacher calls. (Kensington Palace)
Duchess of Cambridge also chatted to Chris Reay who attended Place2Be sessions as a child and now works at the school. (Kensington Palace)
Duchess of Cambridge teacher calls. (Kensington Palace)
Duchess of Cambridge speaking to teacher Louise Tweedie. (Kensington Palace)

The royal mother-of-three also called teacher Hannah Rispin who was full of praise for the children in her class.

Rispin said the children tell her about their families each morning, and 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 said: “We need more people like you out there as a workforce.”

The comments echo the plea Kate made to parents in a candid selfie video which was shared on the Kensington Palace Instagram over the weekend.

In the video, which was reportedly filmed while the duchess was out running, she said: “This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is all about expressing yourself – about finding creative ways in which to share your thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Duchess of Cambridge spoke to teachers during Children's Mental Health Week. (Kensington Palace)
Duchess of Cambridge spoke to teachers during Children's Mental Health Week. (Kensington Palace)

“So whether that’s through photography, through art, through drama, through music or poetry – it’s finding those things that make you feel good about yourself.

“And while this is Children’s Mental Health Week there has never been a more important time to talk about parental wellbeing and mental health too.

“Last year you told me just how important this was, that many of us find it hard to prioritise. This is a hugely challenging time for us all so please look after yourself too.”

Kate has been passionate about mental health work for children for several years and has made Early Years Development a cornerstone of her royal work.

She launched her Early Years project in November 2020, having set up a record breaking survey on under-fives, through Ipsos MORI.

Kate and her husband, Prince William, have championed mental health causes in all ages through the Royal Foundation including the 24/7 text-based helpline, Shout.

Watch: Kate urges parents to ‘look after’ their mental health during pandemic