A recent Church Times article highlighted a high number of head teachers reporting being overworked and suffering mental health problems as they try to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
My weekly conversations with leaders in education continue to underline how hard they and their teams are working and how much everyone has to bear. And it's unlikely to get easier any time soon.
A week before the first national lock-down, I attended the Annual School Leaders Conference organised by Exeter diocese. I'd been asked to talk about how meditation can help us lead, work and live more collaboratively.
Everyone was deeply concerned about the likely impact of Covid-19, so I decided to drop most of what I'd planned to say and make our time together as straightforward and practical as possible, focussing on how to relate well to a challenge you can't avoid.
I began by writing PROBLEM in large letters on a flipchart and asked for a volunteer to stand just a few inches in front of it. When I asked what she could see, she replied, "Problem."
I asked if she could take a step back and tell us what she could see. This time she replied, "Problem, and a little bit of the room."
Each time she stepped back, she could see more of the room. She could still see the PROBLEM, it was there, real, in large black letters. And it wasn't going away. Life has a habit of happening. It needs to be faced.
But with each step back, her field of vision was opening and her relationship to the PROBLEM was changing. With each step, she was encountering the problem in an enlarged and more spacious context.
One of the great benefits of meditation is learning how to pause and step back, to create a space of opportunity in which we have more freedom to decide how we want to relate to all that life offers us or throws at us, with greater perspective and peace.
One of the great benefits of working for a law firm with a purpose to improve lives, communities and society, is being able to offer what you learnt living at a Benedictine monastery to the leaders and organisations you work with.
It's a joy to be offering these workshops to school leaders across the country in this difficult time. It's an even greater joy that many of these leaders and now arranging for hundreds of staff in their care to be introduced to this simple practice to support their wellbeing.
If you would like a conversation about anything I've written or any of this work, I'd be delighted.
HEAD TEACHERS at church schools have reported being overworked and suffering from mental-health problems, as they seek to meet the challenges of the pandemic.