Lancaster MP says ‘under pressure’ teachers need more government support post-Covid
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Over the last few months, the MP says her inbox has been inundated with emails from education professionals who are worried about the impact the pandemic continues to have on both children and school staff.
“Covid hasn’t gone away and on a daily basis head teachers are trying to manage huge numbers of staff absences when there’s very few supply staff available due to a critical national shortage,” said Ms Smith.
“The recruitment and retention of teachers is at an all-time low. If that wasn’t bad enough head teachers are also trying to respond to the high numbers of pupil absences and providing home learning packages via digital technology.
“Two years ago teacher’s jobs literally changed overnight and since then there’s been very little understanding or support from the government.”
In addition the MP says she’s also concerned that the relationship between OFSTED and schools has become increasingly toxic, with schools dreading the visit of the inspectorate.
“School inspection certainly plays its part in reassuring parents and carers that their children are receiving high quality education - but the Government must look at ways of moving the inspectorate to being more developmental and less judgemental.
"Teachers say inspections are so focused on box ticking that even a school delivering excellent outcomes can receive a disappointing report.”
According to a recent survey by the National Education Union, one in three teachers in the UK plan to quit the classroom in the next five years due to bureaucracy and huge workloads.
Teachers are being paid for far fewer hours than the 46 to 59 hours that in many cases they actually work. The union says class sizes due to the pandemic are increasing, with some schools having to put more pupils together in classrooms to cover the absence of self-isolating teachers.
“Understandably, teachers can feel overwhelmed when they’re solely responsible for 35 to 40 children,” said Ms Smith, who has now outlined her concerns in a letter to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, and asked for teachers to be given more support in light of the difficult circumstances they face.
"The Education Secretary needs to take much more seriously the very real issue of teacher stress and burnout. New spending commitments from the Government can’t undo the damage caused by a decade of underfunding in education, leaving teachers overstretched and underpaid.”
“The government wants us to think ‘it’s business as usual’ but every week I visit schools in my constituency and that’s not what teachers are telling me.
"From Lancaster to Fleetwood every head teacher is expressing concern about the well being of the children in their care and the well being of staff who are juggling a myriad of complex issues.
"This has to change. We have to invest more in our children and give their teachers the support they need to help them through what continues to be very challenging times.”