How tragedy led Sheffield dad Matt to change his thinking
“Do you know who the most important person in a school classroom is?” Matt Butcher asks.
“Your instinct might be the children, but it’s actually the teacher. You can’t possibly nurture and shape young minds and expect them to be in a good place emotionally if the person delivering the materials is struggling to keep it together.”
Matt knows of what he speaks. Four years ago, he was a teacher at a junior school in Stannington and, like many of his colleagues across the country, was regularly working too many hours.
“I was so passionate about my job, and there’s often this mindset in teaching that, if you’re committed, you should be working silly hours.”
In the end, tragedy intervened, Matt’s wife Caroline – mother of the couple’s two young children - was diagnosed with cancer. Life as the family knew it, changed overnight.
“It took a cancer diagnosis for me to challenge my own working practice,” says Matt, aged 40, of Aston.
“The irony is that when I was forced to take a step back, I became a better teacher than I’d ever been. Suddenly I could see the big picture, and I was more productive. I focused on doing things with the kids that made us smile, and their education soared as a result.”
A few months later, Matt was forced to leave the classroom for good to become a full-time daddy to Finn and Jemima, and carer for his wife, who by now was living with a terminal disease. Caroline died in August 2016.
“Our world was turned upside down," Matt says.
“And for me, everything had to change. I knew it was more important than ever that I find that work-life balance, that would enable me to be there for my children as a suddenly-solo parent.”
This revelation led Matt to create Fit2Teach - an app that allows teachers to monitor every aspect of their work, to help them manage their workload and increase their wellbeing.
Matt says: “I’d had the concept for a while, but it wasn't until I teamed up with my business partners, Austin and Martyn, that we were able to make it a reality.”
Fit2Teach launched in 2017 and has already had 40,000 people register in over 120 countries. As of September 2019, new Ofsted framework will see schools become accountable for the wellbeing of their employees – a move Matt says can’t come soon enough. Rotherham council has become the first to take Fit2Teach on across the board, providing it for free to every teacher in the town.
“Fit2teachSchools is our whole-school well-being platform,” says Matt.
“Essentially it provides headteachers with a platform to identify, target, measure progress and evidence the impact of their efforts to engage in staff wellbeing.
“Heads often pose the question: who helps the people helping the people? I guess you could say that we do!
“I believe with my whole heart in the app. We’ve heard from hundreds of teachers all over the world who say this app transformed their lives, helping them to build bridges with family, be present for their children, and focus on what’s important.
“You can’t change what you can’t measure, so sign up for free if you're ready to say, enough is enough.”
Visit fit2teachapp.com for more details, and to register.