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"I'm so passionate about all the work that teachers up and down the country are doing," the Duchess of Cambridge said

By Simon Perry
February 04, 2021 05:30 PM
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Catherine Duchess of Cambridge calls teachers
Credit: Kensington Palace

Kate Middleton went back to school – virtually – to check in with teachers.

The royal, 39, took part in a video call with a school this week to see how they are doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and put them on the spot with a series of quickfire questions.

The teachers at Ribbon Academy in Durham, northeast England, took turns chatting with Kate one-on-one about the help provided by one of her key charities, Place2be, in supporting mental wellbeing among students.

"Before we address the academic side of school life, our children need to be socially and emotionally secure. Because of the situation, Place2Be is fundamental to what we do," Head Teacher Ashleigh Sheridan told the Duchess of Cambridge.

Kate took the call from her new office at the Queen's nearby Sandringham House. She and William are taking turns using the space while they homeschool their children at their Anmer Hall home in Norfolk.

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge calls teachers
Credit: Kensington Palace

Teacher Hannah Rispin told Kate that Place2Be was crucial for everyone in the school, not just the kids. "You can't pour from an empty cup, so how can we fill the children's cups up, give them all of this love, give them this enthusiasm if we're not doing it ourselves?" she said.

Kate's chat came during Children's Mental Health Week, which is spearheaded by one of the royal's longest-standing charities, Place2Be. The charity and the school have been working together since 2002 to provide teachers and staff with the tools they need to help support children and parents' mental wellbeing.

Kate also spoke with Chris Reay, a High Level Teaching and Learning Partner who attended Place2Be sessions as a child following a traumatic event in his life and is now working at the school as an adult, having completed Place2Be's Mental Health Champions Foundation Programme.

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge calls teachers
Kate Middleton and Chris Reay
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Kate was visibly thrilled to hear that he had a newfound hobby in walking as he answered her question about what he was doing to help themselves stay positive during the challenging times.

"Well done, you," she said with a big smile.

Kate then told him, "You play such a vital role in looking after our children. It's so important that you're looked after too and have the appropriate networks and support systems to make really sure you can really do the best job you possibly can."

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge calls teachers
Kate Middleton and Hannah Rispin
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Praising all the teaching staff, Kate added, "I'm so passionate about all the work that teachers up and down the country are doing. You're doing a most amazing job – you're a lifeline to so many families out there, so well done. I know it takes an awful lot of effort, energy, patience, but a huge thank you for not only your time today, but also for the hard work you do on a day-to-day basis for the children that you look after."

When Kate asked how are the kids are handling remote learning, Rispin, who called her children "shining stars," shared her first lesson is always math. But for the first 10 minutes, "all they want to do is tell me what they've been doing that morning," she said. "'Miss, guess what? My dad let me try a little bit of coffee,' 'Guess what I'm making?' Chocolate brownies or whatever they've been making!"

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge calls teachers
Kate Middleton
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Tweedie added, "They're doing an absolutely first-class job. They've all risen to the challenge so well. But it's hard to get a sense of how the children are in themselves, remotely."

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Earlier this week, Kate released her first selfie-style video sending a message of support as she encouraged children and parents to find ways to look after their own mental wellbeing, so they would be in a better place to look after the children in their care.