Cash-strapped schools are calling on parents to help fund social events for teachers – and even "biscuits and treats" for the staffroom – in order to help meet a new Ofsted requirement on wellbeing, it is claimed.
One headteacher, in a letter to parents, said school funding was at an "all-time low" and called for them to support funding events throughout the year to raise cash for vouchers, Easter eggs and subsidised tickets to events.
Another school allegedly asked parents to pay for its teachers awards evening in what primary school headteacher Bill Lord described on Twitter as "utter nonsense".
He said: "Due to an Ofsted focus on wellbeing we are now seeing a parody of good wellbeing practice."
Meanwhile, dozens of teachers expressed anger on Twitter at the primary head's letter to parents saying cash was needed to buy Easter eggs and treats for staff.
The letter said the school had set up “a wellbeing team” which would be staging events throughout the year to raise cash – beginning with a non-uniform day and disco this month for which parents were being asked to pay £1 per child.
The letter states: “With the budgets for school at an all-time low, our staff are working a great deal harder as we are sure that you can all see. Small treats and tokens of appreciation for our staff are not able to be funded from the school budgets, hence why our wellbeing team are working hard to raise funds towards this.
"Events and activities that the raised funds would go towards are things such as: treats and biscuits in the staff room; vouchers for staff member of the term; Easter eggs and a reduced cost to tickets to events.”
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The letter was posted on Twitter by parent @miss_pgcepe, who is also a Year 4 teacher (at a different school).
She told Tes that the new Ofsted framework was putting pressure on schools to consider staff wellbeing.
She said: “They are looking at ways to box tick. However, they aren’t always approaching it with the right mindset as a result.”
Read this and tell me OFSTED doesn't have a negative impact on the decisions schools make. https://t.co/dFuSLDovZj— Bill Lord (@Joga5) October 3, 2019
Primary teacher Julie Hare tweeted: “What???? I'm so shocked at this! Wellbeing needs to be prioritised by SLT and is not about asking parents to fund staffroom biscuits! It should be about making sure workload is manageable and that staff have time for reflection and cpd. Wow!”
Another Twitter user @Thatch_Teach said: “Nope! Just nope. I don’t want biscuits, I want time to do my job. My mental health would be improved if I had more free time to plan or mark effectively. I don’t need treats, I do need textbooks and resources so raise money for those which could help mental health too!”
"Is this a school where the children are the focus? Seems their understanding of wellbeing is skewed,” added @ScienceTeach24.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said supporting teacher wellbeing was likely to benefit pupils and parents.
But he said the number one issue in promoting it was reducing workload.
Earlier this year Ofsted published recommendations for schools about how they can promote teacher wellbeing.
Ofsted said it did not wish to comment.