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Kate's Story - a former head teacher who applied for a role at Place2Be

Kate's Story - a former head teacher who applied for a role at Place2Be

Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor

Area Manager for London and South - Kate joined Place2Be in October 2022. Previously, Kate worked as a Primary Headteacher for 23 years and led a school with Place2Be from the initial set-up for 14 years. Kate uses this school experience to support schools and school-based staff in her new role as Area Manager.

After working as a Head Teacher for 23 years in a primary school, Kate saw first-hand the positive impact that Place2Be made in her school, which inspired her to apply for a role at Place2Be.  

Hempstead Infant and Junior school is located within a built-up residential area in Kent. In 1998, I joined there as Deputy Head and after three years, I took on the headship for another 20.  

The pupils that attended the school were from different parts of the county, so there was always a variety of needs. Some pupils experienced anxiety and friendship difficulties, while others had difficulties at home and several children faced bereavements of close family. 

It became apparent that to cultivate and attain a mentally healthy school community, it wasn’t just the children’s wellbeing that needed attention – I also needed to be attentive to their families, as well as the school’s staff members.  

To ensure that pupils were cared and nurtured for so that they had the best chances of achieving socially and academically, I applied for the Place2Be service in 2004.  

After we onboarded with Place2Be, the service changed the culture of the school. It was as if we were in a Place2Be bubble. It was always extremely busy and was widely used by the whole school community.

I even recall a time when we delivered an assembly, subjected around the ‘things that keep you safe’ and the pupils shouted ‘Place2Be!’ They just always knew that the service was there for them.

After a good run at Hempstead, I was made redundant, and soon joined another primary school in Rochester as the Head Teacher. 

The area had high levels of deprivation and the children who attended the school faced a lot of social issues. Unlike Hempstead, this school didn’t have access to the Place2Be service, and I began to feel the effects of not having that extra support. 

I found that my day-to-day job was usually spent in corridors, talking to the pupils who were sent out because they were being disruptive or misbehaving in class because of their emotional distress, or talking to parents about the issues they were facing at home. 

As the Head, the delivery of the school's performance was in my hands. However, I felt that if the children were unable to cope in the first place, how could the school be expected to achieve a high academic performance.

It was here that I realised that supporting children’s mental health was my passion, but I assumed that I needed a clinical background to pursue a career in the workforce.

I wasn’t aware of the different opportunities out there, until one day, when I discovered an advertisement for an Area Manager role at Place2Be.  

After some back and forth and feeling apprehensive to apply, I realised that I had nothing to lose. I made it through to the interview process and not long after was offered the job.  

I am now the Area Manager for London and South and have been at Place2Be for over 6 months.  

I am responsible for the expansion of the Place2Be service in schools across London and South regions, and I look after the frontline school-based counsellors who deliver the service in schools.  

When I first started, I was overseeing 9 schools, but now I’m looking after 20, which is brilliant! I find this part very rewarding because I’m able to visit the schools to see how the service is making a difference and it also gives me the opportunity to talk to the Head Teachers.  

Due to my own experience in headship, I feel that perhaps I have some sort of advantage in being able to understand them in ways that others may not. 

Another benefit is that the staff at Place2Be are extremely passionate, creative, caring and kind and we have opportunities to be involved in activities and events that go beyond the normal working day. 

Last year, I was able to volunteer at the Young Voices concert, where Place2Be worked in partnership to raise awareness and funding for children’s mental health, and I had a brilliant time!

I now have a healthy work-life balance, which I realise is so important and something that I’ve never had before.

The atmosphere, culture and ethos of Place2Be is such a pleasure to work for. It feels like a breath of fresh air to be working for an organisation that lives up to its values and is committed to helping children and young people with their mental health.   

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