Today (Fri 15 Mar), Education Secretary Damian Hinds will announce an expert panel, headed by Mind CEO Paul Farmer, to look at how teachers and school leaders can be better supported to deal with the pressures of their jobs.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “It’s often said and widely accepted that on a good day, working in education is the best job in the world. Too often, though, there are not enough good days, so urgent action is needed both to improve the status of the profession and to alleviate some of the unnecessary stresses and strains of the job.”
NAHT’s research – published in our Leaky Pipeline report – showed that too many experienced school staff are leaving the profession prematurely. Two thirds (66%) of respondents said they were aware of some of their staff having left the teaching profession, for reasons other than retirement.
This underlines the DfE’s own data, which found that in 2016, 34,910 teachers (8.1% of the qualified workforce) left for reasons other than retirement (National Audit Office (NAO), 2017).
Of those that reported they were aware of staff having left the teaching profession [for reasons other than retirement], the most commonly selected reason for this was workload pressures (84%). This was closely followed by wanting a better work-life balance (83%).
NAHT also found that problems with retention were driven by problems of recruitment. 44 per cent of leaders reported that when they could not fill a classroom vacancy, their solution to was for the teaching hours to be covered by a member of the Senior Leadership Team.
Mr Whiteman continued: “Leaders often put their own wellbeing at risk in order to protect their teams from stress and to plug the gaps in their workforce. This is clearly not a sustainable way to proceed, so it would be better to reduce the sources of stress. Prevention is better than cure, as any wellbeing expert will tell you. Leaders can set the right tone in their school, by having a healthy work-life balance themselves, but we are long way off this becoming a reality, when school budgets are at breaking point and the accountability system drives so much anxiety and unnecessary workload.
“It’s important to take a whole school approach to well-being. We will be making this recommendation to the expert panel. We will also stress the importance of supporting all teachers at different stages of their careers across the profession. At a time when trainee targets are being missed, retaining the teachers already in the profession becomes all the more important.
“The government’s recently published recruitment and retention strategy was widely welcomed by NAHT and others. This new expert panel is another step in the right direction, and we look forward to playing our part.”
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