Photo of Lisa Fathers

Lisa Fathers

Lisa Fathers was nominated by Chris Reddy. She is a Director of Teaching School & Partnerships and a Bright Futures Educational Trust Exec.

Chris says “Lisa’s role involves leading a large teaching school which connects schools and education professionals to high quality opportunities for continued professional development and school improvement. This work is having a huge impact across schools and on teachers from the Greater Manchester area.

Through this collaboration, she is developing programmes to support mental wellbeing and fitness with young people as well as promoting positive wellbeing in lots of the work she does with adults.”

Who will it help/who has it helped already?

“Lisa’s work is truly inspirational! It’s having an impact on education professionals across the country and on the young people in their care. She is encouraging people to take an active role in talking about mental health and wellbeing and in promoting physical activity for everyone. The impact of this work is reaching far and wide.

Over 500 schools in the North West have accessed an aspect of the mental health training. For example, in Bolton, Bury and Warrington she has overseen programmes rolled out to schools. Lisa is also the strategic schools lead for the GM Mentally Healthy Schools & Colleges Programme.

Within Lisa’s teaching school there is also a SCITT ( School Centred Initial Teacher Training) and she is really passionate about training the next generation of teachers.”

What’s worked?

“Lisa is highly skilled at bringing partners together and making sure work fits into the wider system. Lisa is a national trainer with Mental Health First Aid England and utilises her links with the Youth Sport Trust to ensure innovative approaches for the schools in her teaching school alliance and beyond. Lisa is also plugged into local strategies like GM Moving.

Lisa’s work doesn’t just serve Greater Manchester. She has been supporting in Blackpool too, driving an English Improvement Project for the DfE. The aim is to improve the quality of English teaching across Blackpool secondary schools.

Lisa is really passionate about equality of opportunity for children and young people.  In her spare time, she is also a great spin instructor and organises regular charity spin sessions in her community, bringing people together of all ages and abilities to get fitter. Lisa’s spin Class has raised over £2000 in the last few years. Lisa probably has, scrap that, definitely has, the fastest legs in the North West!”

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

Lisa says “There are huge challenges in my role. Take mental health, for example. There is still a huge taboo in this area. There are still many misconceptions about mental health. Equally, teacher workload means that staff wellbeing remains a challenge for many schools. In terms of the GM Mentally Healthy Schools Programme it has been really rewarding to work so closely with the health sector, the voluntary sector and a range of partners.

It has been good for all of us to learn from each other and understand the way different sectors work and complement each other. We talk in Manchester about ‘whole system working’ but this isn’t easy to achieve and it takes hard work and a genuine desire to ‘join up’ work and people etc.

In my role, I’m in many different schools so I’m constantly learning about different approaches. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is just how hard leaders and teachers work every day to give the children in their care the very best opportunities.

On a personal level it is an ongoing challenge, juggling being a Mum to two young children and doing the best job I can in work. But I have learned to juggle more effectively and to ensure I give myself time for me too! If we don’t look after ourselves we can’t possibly support others.”

What’s next?

“With regards to Mental Health, we are moving into work with our third cohort of schools so we are excited about the impact this will have. I have just been asked to Co-Chair the Mental Health in Education Board for Greater Manchester alongside Dr Sandeep Ranote. I think it is excellent practice to have two chairs – one from health & one from education.

One big piece of work at the moment for my teaching school is to support our schools improve their provision and staff training for children with English as an Additional Language (EAL). We have launched a whole new CPD offer and school improvement offer around this working with partners, for example Beth Southern from the EAL Hub.”

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

“Wow there is a question! It might sound simple but more funding to roll out the Mentally Healthy Schools and Colleges Programme would be amazing! We have so many schools struggling with school budgets. To be able to subsidise this to allow more schools to benefit would be wonderful. So… if there are any wealthy readers who want to ‘give back to society’, give me a shout!

Other help would just be an ‘ask’ that if you work with children and young people, encourage them to move more, play more, get more fresh air outside, sit less and put down the mobile phones. This would make a huge difference to their wellbeing.”

Follow Lisa @lisafathersAFL

Why we’re sharing these stories

An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North!