Despite the blustery conditions, Kate received a warm welcome from teachers and excited children before going inside.
The Palace confirmed Kate would be staying for the full duration of the conference to learn more about the key issues, latest developments and thoughts on the role schools can play in tackling mental health problems in young children.
Today marked the second annual Place2Be Headteacher Conference, bringing together senior leaders from the organisation's partner schools in England, Scotland and Wales to increase knowledge and understanding of children and young people’s mental health and share ideas and expertise to help build children’s emotional resilience.
This year's conference is entitled ‘My Head is Too Full’, and is targeted at school leaders who share a commitment to early intervention in children’s mental health, with the aim of raising aspirations and improving attainment, while helping children get the best chance at achieving their full potential.
Place2Be is an organisation fans of the Duchess will be familiar with. Kate became royal patron in April 2013 and she has attended a number of events in support of the charity.
Place2Be works with 257 schools reaching a population of 105,000 children to help them cope with wide-range and complex social issues including bullying, bereavement, domestic violence, breakdown and trauma. It's been so interesting to see the organisation grow over the past couple of years; below two year 5 pupils share what having Place2be in their school means.
|Place2Be Twitter Feed|
I've mentioned it before, but the artistic talents of the children involved in Place2Be and the Art Room are fantastic.
The Duchess made an unexpected speech highlighting the need to intervene with vulnerable young people and spoke of her own "wonderful, secure childhood". Aides said the address was "very much her own". Kate has only given a handful of speeches since the royal wedding; like many she has found public speaking quite daunting. It's excellent to see her tackling it and publicly speaking more about causes she's passionate about. You can watch a video here.
The full text from Kate's speech:
'I want to start by saying a big thank you to all of the head teachers here today. I know how much is asked of you. The fact that you are all committing your valuable time to support Place2Be, and prioritise the mental health of your students is something that all parents should be grateful for.
I often get asked why I decided to spend time highlighting the mental health of children. I imagine my answer might be similar to many of yours.
I know that I was lucky. My parents and teachers provided me with a wonderful and secure childhood where I always knew I was loved, valued and listened to.
But of course many children are not so lucky. Since beginning my work in areas like addiction, for example, I have seen time and time again that the roots of poor mental health in adulthood are almost always present in unresolved childhood challenges.
I am sure you will agree that all children deserve time, attention and love from the adults in their lives. These basic qualities are so much more valuable than the always changing material and social concerns that can seem so important to young people.
As today's theme reminds us, many children – even those from stable, happy homes – are finding that their heads are just too full. It is our duty, as parents and as teachers, to give all children the space to build their emotional strength and provide a strong foundation for their future. Of course, not all children have the anchor of a strong family. Many will arrive through your school gates feeling a real lack of love and devotion in their lives. This often leaves them feeling insecure and without confidence and trust in the world around them. That is why your work is so important.
Parents, teachers and other school staff need the tools to help these young people early in their lives. And the earlier, the better. It is proven that early action prevents problems later in life.
Imagine if everyone was able to help just one child who needs to be listened to, needs to be respected, and needs to be loved – we could make such a huge difference for an entire generation. As head teachers you have the chance to reach tens of thousands of children during your careers, and make an impact on a great scale. Thank you for making the work of Place2Be part of your mission. I hope you know how much your work is valued.
Thank you – I am really looking forward to the rest of the afternoon.'
More from royal reporter Victoria Murphy.
|Victoria Murphy Twitter Feed|
The conference included presentations from headteachers working in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the UK, alongside leading experts in child psychology and those involved in M-PACT Plus, a joint programme between Place2Be and Action on Addiction (funded by the Royal Foundation and Comic Relief) to support families dealing with the hidden harm of drug or alcohol addiction.
Kate repeated the dove grey Matthew Williamson dress she first wore to the 'African Cats' premiere in 2012.
The dress is from the designers Pre-Fall 2012 Collection and features peplum detailing, an exposed zipper and turquoise and gold encrusted detail.
Kate wore her Emmy London shoes and carried the matching bag in carbon suede.
The Duchess accessorised with her Lauren Yellow Gold Pave Diamond Leaf Earrings by Kiki McDonough. The £2,200 earrings are described as "Beautiful and elegantly small these 18ct yellow gold and pave diamond leaf motif drop earrings are from our new Lauren Collection inspired by the British ballerina Lauren Cuthbertson."
And completed the look with her Cartier watch.
|Saks Fifth Avenue|
Following the Fostering Excellence Awards last night, Kate attended a dinner for the Defence and Rehabilitation Centre at the Kensington Palace state apartments. The engagement was unannounced and we don't expect to see any photos.
|Cepe Smith Twitter Feed|
Interestingly, Prince William attended a dinner for the centre back in November 2013, the same night Kate attended the SportsBall. I expect Prince William may have been scheduled to attend but due to the tragedy in Paris opted to show his support at the match whilst Kate took his place.
The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre supports the wounded, injured and sick members of the armed forces along their road to recovery. At present, a new state of the art centre in the Midlands is being purpose built to provide the very best and latest treatments available. The Duke of Westminster (his wife is one of William's godparents and his son Hugh is one of George's) has greatly supported the effort acquiring a site at Stanford Hall Estate. It is hoped it will be operational by the end of 2017. Below, a look at what the completed centre will look like.