WATCH: Why teachers have had the ‘hardest term ever'

Pupils' behaviour has worsened as they have picked up on the tiredness of 'drained teachers' this term, say heads
18th December 2020, 5:00am
Dave Speck

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WATCH: Why teachers have had the ‘hardest term ever'

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/watch-why-teachers-have-had-hardest-term-ever
Coronavirus: Headteachers Explain Why This Term Has Been Such A Slog

The Covid-19 pandemic has created "the hardest term ever in teaching", according to headteachers, who say "Christmas can't come soon enough."

While the summer term was "tough" as teachers had to master new skills in remote teaching (among an array of other challenges), this term has been even tougher as more teachers have had to keep remote lessons going while teaching physical lessons at the same time, say heads.

Coronavirus: The impact on pupil behaviour

Behaviour issues have arisen as "penned in" pupils have picked up on the tiredness of "drained teachers" - while heads also say it's been hard to see the "disappointment" on students' faces when bubbles have been sent home, especially when pupils had already missed so much school.


Ofsted: Five ways Covid-19 has made teachers' jobs harder

Coronavirus: Most pupils have slipped back during the pandemic

Report: 'Bubbles' leaving teachers tired and socially isolated


Alan Grey, headteacher of Sandringham School in St Albans, Hertfordshire, said: "I think we're getting to the end of a very long term, the hardest term ever that we've had in teaching, so staff are losing a bit of energy."

He added: "But I'm not being pessimistic here. I think children have benefited from being back in school. They certainly like being with each other, and I think a lot of staff like being back in school physically, but they're not enjoying the teaching as much as when there are no restrictions."

'Drained' teachers

Less than a month into term, back in September, teachers told Tes how Year 7 students' behaviour was "off the wall" after six months off school, while pupils were also struggling to get back into a routine again and even to "put pen to paper".

And now, as the end of term approaches, teachers are "drained" while pupils "push the boundaries", said Mr Grey.

Christmas 'can't come soon enough'

Headteacher and national leader in education Steve Wilson, from Whitely Bay High School, agreed that it had been a tough term. He said: "Certainly this has been the hardest term for me in my career and I know our teachers are very tired. Normally teachers are tired by this stage in the term anyway, but now they're particularly tired and particularly looking forward to the Christmas break.

"I just take my hat off to the teachers who are teaching the lessons in class, but then also making sure that remote learning is available and physically doing the marking and assessments as well as doing the remote marking and assessments. They've had it tough and I think the Christmas holiday can't come soon enough."

He added: "We've managed to stay open to all year groups, which I know other schools, through no fault of their own, haven't been able to do. We've managed to do that, but it's been a real hard slog with staff covering each other to make sure that can happen."

The vaccine offers hope

Mr Grey said he believed there would be "quite a change" next term. 

He said: "The rollout of the vaccine will hopefully start to kick in and give people a little more confidence. And I think there are going to be some significant changes around mass testing in schools, certainly for the older students." 

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