‘I’ll challenge our young people out of their anxiety’ – the Battersea teacher who believes in child-centred education

By Camomile Shumba
September 28 2019, 12.35

A Battersea teacher has spoken about the way he aims to help students overcome anxiety.

Richard Smith, 37, assistant head at Thames Christian School turned anxiety into a story he could use to inspire young people.

He said if you focus on the child you will see them blossom.

Mr Smith said: “I have been in offices where they are telling me their heartbreak and I have cried but they appreciate that too because ultimately, they know I am going to challenge them out of that situation.”

Thames Christian School is a private school for ages 11-17 where 135 attend and their teaching style is centred on the individual.

Mr Smith said: “We need to move from a grade-focussed education to a child-focussed education.”

A Prince’s Trust survey this year showed 57% of the 11-30 year olds surveyed believed social media caused ‘overwhelming pressure’.

Mr Smith’s anxiety led him to believe he was going to die at 27.

Mr Smith said: “It was something I heard of where Kurt Cobain died at 27, Jimi Hendrix died at 27, Janice Joplin died at 27, there are loads of others and later Amy Winehouse died when she was 27.”

He continued: “I have pupils coming to me daily saying I feel this or I feel that.

 “‘I am anxious I am having a panic attack or I want to cut myself or I want to kill myself’, at least there is a part of me that can go I know what that feels like.”

Mr Smith also speaks in front of thousands of people on a Sunday at Hillsong Dominion church, a modern Christian church inspiring people with his raw imperfect story.

Mr Smith explained how everything changed for him after he went to the Dominion Church.

He said: “I believe that God put people into my life, I would pray for healing and often he would bring people into my life and that was my healing.”

His wife recognised his teaching potential and they took a gamble when straight after their wedding day Richard went to get a teaching qualification.

Now he celebrates with a smile what his life has become with friends that flock around his two-month-old baby and wife.

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