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Unsustainable pressure could put education recovery at risk, says NAHT

Today (Friday 5th March 2021), school leaders’ union NAHT releases findings from a recent survey of their members on working hours and in-school attendance.

 The survey, which had 3,328 responses from school leaders, revealed that:

  • Virtually all (96%) school leaders have been working in school, since the beginning of this term;
  • Almost half (49%) of respondents reported that the vast majority (81-100%) of their staff worked on-site during the week surveyed;
  • Almost two thirds (64%) of school leaders surveyed indicated that they have worked on average at least 6 additional hours per week since the beginning of term as a result of the coronavirus pandemic;
  • Over a third (38%) of respondents said they have worked an average of 51-60 hours a week since the beginning of term;
  • The overwhelming majority (91%) of respondents said that the percentage of pupils attending their setting on-site has greatly increased or increased since the beginning of the current lockdown;
  • Almost half (46%) said a third or more of their usual cohort was attending class physically –  this is an increase of 12% from an NAHT survey taken at the beginning of the year.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “These figures prove once and for all that schools are not and have never been closed. Teachers and school leaders have in fact been working harder than ever to juggle the demands of remote teaching for pupils at home, while also caring for those vulnerable and key worker children in school.

“The worry is that the workload and pressure on school staff at the moment is simply unsustainable – and could threaten the education recovery to come. This is potentially the most important moment of the pandemic for children and young people – the point at which we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and prepare to throw everything we have into providing the best conditions possible for pupil recovery. We need teachers and school staff refreshed and ready to be the very best and brightest they can be for the pupils relying on them.

“It is vital that we take a long-term view of recovery and don’t rush into quick fixes that could do more harm than good. Both children and educators need time to heal and recover – time to get back to what they know best before more pressure is piled onto them. Recovery won’t happen in a single summer. The biggest driver of educational success for children is great teaching by great teachers. The best thing the government can do now is to value and invest in all teaching staff.

“This new data proves that the teaching profession has gone the extra mile for pupils during the pandemic. Their efforts should be recognised. The continued efforts throughout the recovery require the full support of the government in the years ahead.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363


Email :
press.office@naht.org.uk