Sustaining Our Teachers: A mindfulness retreat for teachers and educators - BB

Education can be one of the most rewarding professions and is crucial in fostering the learning, social and emotional wellbeing of the next generation.  It is essential that we model what we want our youngsters to learn, including looking after our own wellbeing - as an act of simple and unselfish kindness towards ourselves and those we work and live with.

Such support is urgently needed - working in education is increasingly stressful and demanding with a growing workload and a multitude of competing demands. The turnover of educational professionals, especially teachers from schools, colleges and universities, is at an all time high, with many citing stress and burnout.

It’s a relentless hamster wheel with minute-by-minute stress. You wake up in the night with your mind filled with 30 children who mean so much to you. You want the best for them, you want them to do well and be safe and happy. And the list scrolls in your head of all the things that have to be done before they come to you at 8.50am in the morning. Assistant Headteacher Primary School quoted in The Guardian 11/1/18

Mindfulness is increasingly showing its value in helping educators ‘apply our own oxygen mask’ before we can help others.

The first step is to come back to yourself – the way out is in. Come back to yourself to be able to take care of yourself: learn how to generate a feeling of happiness; learn how to handle a painful feeling or emotion; listen to your own suffering, so that understanding and compassion can be born and you will suffer less. This is the first step and, as a teacher, you have to be able to do this. Letter to a young teacher - Thich Nhat Hanh

Sustaining Our Teachers is a 4-night residential retreat that will explore how mindfulness skills can help support the well-being of teachers and educators.  This unique programme takes place in the special setting of grade 1 listed Sharpham House in South Devon, surrounded by beautiful gardens, set within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The retreat leaders are highly qualified teachers and between them have many decades of experience in the field of mindfulness and education (see leaders tab above).

The programme is for you if...

  • Are a teacher or educator involved in supporting children and young people, from pre-school to university level
  • Would benefit from spending some time in rest, contemplation and reflection, away from the busyness of your everyday life and experience some nourishing time in the safe and supportive  company of fellow educators
  • Are looking for skills to help manage your stress levels and overall well-being
  • Have experienced or are becoming concerned about the signs of burn-out – or have seen it happen to others and wish to avoid it
  • Are new to mindfulness, or looking to reconnect or deepen your practice in the context of your work as a teacher / educator
  • Are interested in starting the journey towards teaching mindfulness to your students (although this is not a course to train you to teach mindfulness, cultivating our own mindfulness is a vital building block in any reputable course, such as the Mindfulness in Schools project)

During this 4-night programme you will...

  • Develop simple mindfulness meditation practice, led by experienced teachers, to enhance your personal resilience, building skills that you can use in your everyday life and work to avoid the cycle of burn-out
  • Explore your contribution to the world as a teacher / educator in the context of self-care and self-compassion
  • Reconnect with your intention as a teacher or educator and explore how mindfulness can help you sustain your passion over the longer-term
  • Share experiences with colleagues in a safe, supportive, peaceful environment, connected with nature and beauty

The course is for anyone in invloved in teaching and education aged 18 and above and all we ask is that you bring an open curiosity to exploring these issues.  Please note however that this course might not be suitable if you are experiencing major depression or other serious and clinically diagnosed psychiatric illness. Click here for more information and for our booking process.

If you know of someone who would benefit from this opportunity you can also gift a place on the programme.

Accomodation and venue 

This retreat takes place in the beautiful and historic Grade 1-listed Sharpham House set in a Capability Brown-designed landscape with stunning views over the steeply-wooded River Dart. The retreat is full-board with delicious home-cooked vegetarian food.

Our food & your dietary needs

In line with sustainable practices across the Estate, our cooks produce seasonal, vegetarian food for our guests. We source food whenever possible from our kitchen garden and support local food suppliers. 

We are used to accommodating a wide range of dietary needs including wheat-free, diary-free, vegan. Please indicate on your booking form if you have a dietary need. The booking form is sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.


All of the hot water and heating in the House is produced by a state-of-the-art bio-mass woodchip boiler and we have 2 large photo-voltaic arrays on barn rooftops. Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.


Sample Day Flow - Sustaining Our Teachers and Educators

Our aim is that you come away with the insights, tools and mindfulness practices that most support you to find balance within yourself and that you can take into your everyday life and work. The schedule is carefully balanced to ensure sufficunet time for rest and replenishment alongside enquiry and learning. 

Day 1: Arrive between 4-5pm for welcoming talk and settling in

Typica day

7.15        wake-up bell (silence until 9.50)

8.00        Early Bird Moving Mindfulness  

8.30        Breakfast & tasks

9.50        Guided Meditation

10.30       Tea

10.45        Group Circle & Explore Theme   

12.30        Personal time  or 1-1 mentoring

13.00        Lunch & tasks

14.15        Guided walk, personal time or 1-1 mentoring

15.45        Creative Enquiry

17.15        Tea  

17.30        Sitting Meditation

18.00        Dinner, tasks & personal time

20.00        Mindfulness - sitting practice, exploration & deep relaxation

21.00        Personal time

Final day: depart 11.45am

Sharpham is a small slice of is a much-nneded spot of quietness and positive energy and I could not recommend it more.

The whole experience has left me with a sense of confidence in my ability to improve my well-being and find more balance

One of the most beautiful, nurturing and life-affirming opportunities that I have given myself and shared with others

This was truly food for the soul, and much appreciated


Sharpham House, South Wing and Trust Office

Sharpham House
South Devon TQ9 7UT

Sharpham Map







Sharpham House, Ashprington, Totnes, South Devon, TQ9 7UT. Details below and link to google maps here

By Car

Sharpham Estate is three miles outside Totnes on the edge of Ashprington village. From the A38/Devon Expressway take the Totnes/Buckfastleigh exit. On arriving in Totnes, at the first traffic lights, turn right onto the A381 towards Kingsbridge. Half a mile outside Totnes turn left to Ashprington (about two miles). On reaching Ashprington village turn left up the hill and onto the Sharpham Estate. Follow the road downhill until you get to three way junction and follow sign along the middle road to the front of the house for reception and to drop off your bags.

By Train

Getting to Totnes by train:

Frequent direct trains run from London, Birmingham, and the North. The cost can be very reasonable if booked in advance – see The journey time by train is less than three hours from London Paddington (First Great Western) and under four hours from London Waterloo (South West Trains).

Trains to Totnes are on the Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance lines. Totnes railway station is a 5-10 mins walk from the town.

Sharing a taxi from Totnes train station

We are committed to reducing the impact of cars arriving on the estate and want to avoid lot’s of taxi’s turning up at the same time with single passengers. Our taxi share arrangement is with Happy Cabs 01803 55 92 92 and it takes 10 minutes to get to Sharpham from the Totnes train station

To join a taxi share:

  • Book your taxi in advance on the above number stating date, time of arrival and leaving your phone number.
  • Happy Cabs will then meet you at the station with a board saying Sharpham Trust and the names of people to share the taxi (if others are arriving at the same time)
  • You then divide the costs with your fellow travellers making it cheaper for you!

For Sharpham House Retreats - to increase the chance of sharing a cab we recommend you take the 13.05 from London arriving at Totnes train station 15.54

Other Taxi Numbers below:

Local taxi cabs, in no particular order or preference:

Castle Cabs 01803 868686

• B J Taxis 01803 840940

• AP Taxi Co 01803 840404​

On Foot or Cycle from Totnes

From the railway station (walking 55-75mins, cycling 35mins)

To reach Sharpham House by foot or cycle, first find the cycle path and a public footpath from Totnes to Ashprington (2.5 miles).  Out of Totnes station drive, turn left at main road, crossing over at pedestrian lights. At Morrison's petrol station take road straight on into 'Town'. (You'll soon walk past Morrison's supermarket on left.) Keep going straight on over mini roundabout. At Job Centre Plus, the road swings right into St Katharine's Way but you go straight on, passing the Job Centre to your right. When the road bears left around the back of the Steam Packet Inn on your left, you turn right (signposted 'National Cycle Network 28'), uphill for 30 metres to a sign for footpath/cycle route to Ashprington. Follow this route now until after two miles you reach the stone pillars on the Sharpham Estate drive. Turn left and it is then an easy walk downhill on the footpath that runs alongside the road. This road snakes down and continues on to the Vineyard and the Bathing House.

By Coach

The journey time by National Express coach is just over six hours from London, (Victoria Coach Station, Departures Hall) and the route travels via Heathrow Airport, (Central Bus Station). The coach is the 501 - Route Exeter, Torbay to Heathrow Airport and London.


2018: All rooms are single 

£375 Standard single room 

£425 Premium single room

£450 Heritage single room

Book easily and securely online or by phoning 01803 732542 or emailing us

We a limited number of 50% bursaries available for those experiencing financial hardship (on a first come first served basis). Please contact the Programme Administrator in advance if you wish to apply. 

Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy



Professor Katherine Weare - Sustaining Our Teachers

Professor Katherine Weare - Sustaining Our Teachers

Katherine Weare is a respected international figure in mindfulness in education, and Professor at the University of Exeter teaching mindfulness. She also regularly teaches at Sharpham.

She published the widely-acclaimed book Happy Teachers Change the World co-authored with mindfulness pioneer, spiritual leader, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Read more about her here.

Katherine is also trained to teach the Mindfulness in Schools .b and .b foundation programmes.  She has made a long-term study of mindfulness and well-being for teachers

Julie Berentsen

Julie Berentsen

Julie is a qualified systemic practitioner with a passionate interest in supporting the wellbeing of young people and the communities around them.

She is an experienced primary school teacher and has a qualification with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), a not-for-profit organization offering mindfulness training to young people from 7–18 years of age.

In addition to this, Julie has trained at the Special Yoga Centre in London gaining her children’s yoga credential. She also has an MA in education, with her dissertation focusing on mindfulness in children using the Plum Village approach.

Over the years Julie has studied with many experts in these fields and has taken part in mindfulness training with a variety of renowned practitioners. She has also spoken on her experiences and research at various international conferences and retreats.  She featured on the BBC News as part of a research project into mindfulness in secondary schools as well as a short piece on mindfulness in primary schools. Julie runs regular classes, introductory workshops and INSET training on mindfulness for students, parents and teachers.

Ollie Frame

Ollie Frame

Ollie Frame works as an integrative therapist, mindfulness teacher and retreat leader. Trained in Mindfulness-based approaches with the University of Exeter, he runs 8-week courses for the general public, for teachers and students in schools and colleges, and for various other client groups on behalf of Devon County Council. Having completed additional training in Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL), he is especially enthusiastic about self compassion, Metta meditation and other heart-based approaches within the world of mindfulness. Ollie also works as a Polarity therapist and an integrative counsellor, with a particular interest in Psychosynthesis, depth psychology and inner journeying.

Retreats & Events

How to book easily and securely:

Ring us or email if you've got any questions.

Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy.

Do check our Calendar to see and book for our events - or join our mailing list by clicking here to be kept in touch about Sharpham Trust news, retreats & events.