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Teachers are given 'wellbeing days' off to go Christmas shopping as furious campaigners blast schools for setting a bad example

TEACHERS have been given a day off to go Christmas shopping in a bid to improve well-being and mental health.
The move has sparked a mixed response with some saying it's a "wonderful gesture," while others have criticised the Kent primary school for setting a bad example to children.
The initiative is meant as a thank you to teachers at the St Paul’s Church of England primary in Swanley and colleagues cover the staff who are out on a shopping trip.
Ben Hulme, St Paul’s headteacher, told the Mail: "Staff mental health and well-being nationally is at an all-time low.
"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.
But the move was criticised by parents group, the Campaign for Real Education, who said it was a "disgrace."
Parents can face a £60 for taking children out of school if they do not have compelling reason to do so.
Mr Hulme said the gesture was aimed at tackling "the issues regarding teacher recruitment and retention in education over recent years.
He said: "Staff mental health and well-being nationally is at an all-time low.
"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."
He said it was to say "thank you" to staff for going "above and beyond" what is asked of them.
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 well-being."
Teachers backed the move on social media.
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."
Teacher Naomi Takeda added: "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."
Former headteacher Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, criticised the initiative.
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," Mr McGovern told the Mail.
More than 9,000 parents in Kent have been fined for taking their children out of school during term over the last four years.
Mr McGovern said: "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."

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