Exclusive: 3 in 4 heads see staff in tears this term

‘Kind words and deeds’ from school leaders are vital as the pandemic leaves many staff at ‘lowest point’, says heads’ leader
18th October 2021, 5:44pm

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Exclusive: 3 in 4 heads see staff in tears this term

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/exclusive-3-4-heads-see-staff-tears-term
Exclusive: Teacher Wellbeing – 3 In 4 Headteachers Have Seen Staff In Tears This Term

Nearly three-quarters of headteachers have seen a colleague cry since the start of the new academic year, a poll reveals.

The finding, which has been revealed in a breakdown of survey responses from the Teacher Tapp app, has reignited warnings about school staff wellbeing.

Commenting on the poll, a headteachers’ leader has warned that the impact of the Covid pandemic has brought some staff “to their lowest point”, while an education charity has called for greater support to prevent teachers and school staff from suffering burnout.


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Teacher Tapp asked school staff whether they had witnessed a colleague crying in school since the start of term last month.

Responses show the majority have seen a fellow member of staff in tears - and this becomes more likely the more senior they are.

Wellbeing: The impact of Covid on teacher mental health

The findings also suggest that staff in primaries are more likely to have been seen crying this term than in secondaries.

Data seen by Tes shows that 74 per cent of the headteachers who responded said they had seen a colleague in tears.

For senior leaders who are not headteachers, the figure was 71 per cent - against 29 per cent who had not seen a colleague in tears.

Fifty-nine per cent of middle leaders have seen a colleague cry, as have 55 per cent of classroom teachers.

Overall, 60 per cent of the 6,108 respondents had seen someone cry since the start of the academic year.

Among primary school staff, the figure was 67 per cent while at secondary school it was less, at 51 per cent.

Sinéad Mc Brearty, the chief executive of the Education Support charity, said: “Unfortunately, this doesn’t come as a surprise. The adults working in our schools are dealing with a wide range of serious issues, from pupil mental health to child poverty.

“We must put appropriate support in place and address the drivers of stress in our schools.”

The president of the NAHT school leaders’ union, Tim Bowen, said the heavy workload and additional responsibility faced by school leaders during the Covid pandemic had led to the union choosing Education Support as NAHT’s presidential charity for this year.

He added: “In every school community there are people who have been brought down to their lowest point.

“A kind word, a kind deed, from us as leaders, or from the people in the teams we lead - they are often the first steps on the way back from desperation.”

‘The workload, pressure and stress have been immense’

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that the workload, pressure and stress created by trying to keep schools and colleges running during the pandemic had been “immense” and will “undoubtedly have taken its toll on leaders, teachers and support staff”.

He added: “The expectations placed on them during an extraordinary period for education will have imposed a huge emotional strain. It is shocking, but not surprising, to hear that such a high number of people have broken down in tears in front of senior colleagues who will, in turn, have had to deal with the repercussions.

Teachers and senior leaders’ main concern will have been ensuring that the pressure they have been under is not transmitted to the young people in their care, he said.

Mr Barton called for the government to “play its part” by ensuring provides sufficient funding for education recovery in the forthcoming spending review, and “delivering on its promises to increase teacher pay and tackle workload”.

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