5 things school leaders can do to help teacher-parents

Lockdown makes life tough for families – so school leaders must show compassion for teacher-parents, says Melissa Hall
18th November 2020, 3:00pm

Share

5 things school leaders can do to help teacher-parents

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/5-things-school-leaders-can-do-help-teacher-parents
Covid: One In 10 Teachers Are Considering Keeping Their Own Child Off School In The Final Week Of Term Before The Summer Holidays To Avoid Isolation, A Poll Of Parents Shows

As we struggle through this second lockdown, it would be an understatement to say that there is tension in the air in the world of education. 

Anecdotes tell us that lockdown has hit working parents the hardest. This isn't surprising. Self-isolation, the worry of illness striking family members and difficulties around remote working all combine to make this an incredibly difficult time for many families. 

With many teachers currently juggling teaching and taking care of their own family in these tough conditions, it has never been more important for schools to take care of parent-teachers. 

So, what would help? Here are five things school leaders can do right now for teacher-parents.

Coronavirus: How schools can support teacher-parents

1. Consider the whole-school calendar

Consider the calendar carefully at the start of the year with workload in mind and make any obligatory changes with suitable notice. Childcare isn't always something that can be manoeuvred and every family has its own arrangements in place. 

Likewise, if middle leaders can manipulate the placement of departmental meetings and CPD with consideration for part-time teachers within their department, this will allow for inclusion of these teachers, who are often parents.

2. Know your staff

We know that isolation, illness, redundancies and reduced income are an unfortunate side effect of life in 2020, so it is more important than ever for leaders to be aware of what the individuals in their teams might be facing. Many parents are currently dealing with uncertainty about the health of their children, knowing that the next cough or fever will mean testing, self-isolation and added pressure.

3. Make wellbeing a priority

According to the UK's Health and Safety Executive, education professionals report the highest rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety in Britain.

Teacher wellbeing is more than an Ofsted tick box, and having open dialogue around mental health is essential. If you make it a priority to really know and invest in those you line-manage, you are more likely to be in a position to be able to offer timely support to the parents in your school, who may need that support now more than ever.

4. Show compassion and empathy

These two things are so important. Middle and senior leaders can support a positive work culture for all by being accessible to staff, listening to feedback, valuing staff as professionals and recognising the impact of their work, regardless of their role in the school.

5. Offer flexibility

With socially distanced drop-offs and late fines at nurseries, already time-strapped parents are really up against it these days. Unfortunately, many teacher-parents face a lack of understanding about the importance of their parenting role, particularly if their partner is a stay-at-home parent or a part-time worker. Having a school culture that explicitly emphasises the message that work ethic matters more than visible on-site hours would make a huge difference to the wellbeing of many parents.

Melissa Hall is curriculum leader of English at a secondary school and specialist leader in education

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters