19 April, 2022
In a recent poll of 1,788 teachers by the National Education Union (NEU), 44% said they would leave by 2027, and around 20% said they would leave within the next two years.
The survey also found that schools were struggling to fill vacancies, which resulted in staff in post having to double up on their roles, and in some instances, do roles which they are not trained to do, for example support staff delivering lessons.
The results of the survey made clear just how much the wellbeing of education staff needs to improve. Staff are stressed, burning out, or are burnt out, and are working unsustainable hours.
To try to combat the pressures, the survey found that the most sought after changes by teachers are: reduced teaching time and more PPA time; less punitive inspections; and smaller class sizes. Whilst employers can be restricted by what changes can be made in schools, ultimately, staff are the most precious asset and so they need to be looked after, particularly after the last two years of training or teaching during a pandemic. Schools, as employers, are also under a legal obligation to do all they reasonably can to protect the health and safety of their employees - and this includes their mental health.
Schools should actively have open conversations with their staff about their feelings, their workload, and what, if anything, can be changed. Put staff wellbeing on the agendas at staff, governor, or board meetings. This should, over time, promote openness about mental health amongst staff and reiterate that it is taken seriously. Work towards fostering relationships with all staff, and consider whether any coaching, mentoring or other formal supervision can be put in place to allow employees to speak in confidence with somebody who understands how they feel. Consider having a mental health ambassador or first aider in the school, who will be a point of contact for staff, and consider running an annual wellbeing survey, to try to understand how your staff are feeling, and respond appropriately to the results.
Whilst the outcome of the survey are difficult reading, steps can and should be taken with a view to improving the wellbeing of staff. If you have any concerns or would like any further advice, don't hesitate to contact Alice McKenna in the Employment team.
For more information contact Alice McKenna in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 01254 222373. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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