Staff in schools need action, not warm words from Government, says the NASUWT
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Commenting on the Government’s response to the outcomes of the Expert Advisory Group on education staff wellbeing, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teacher’s Union, said
"The Expert Advisory Group was set up prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in response to the deep crisis in teacher wellbeing that has come to characterise the education system in England in recent years.
"It is now beyond dispute that the falling levels of morale in the profession and the increasing incidence of poor staff mental health have contributed significantly to the worst teacher recruitment and retention crisis in modern history. For too many teachers, their working lives undermine, rather than enhance their wellbeing, with highly negative professional and personal consequences.
"The extraordinary implications of the current public health emergency on the education system have served only to expose and intensify the existing pressures faced by teachers and school leaders in this respect. However, in turning to their Government for help and support in this crisis, teachers continue to be let down badly.
"The reasonable expectation of the profession has been for the DfE to ensure that every school is subject to basic, common requirements to ensure it operates safely and that if these requirements are not met, that the Government will intervene to put right whatever is wrong.
"It is a sad truth that even this minimum expectation has not been met. Since schools were permitted to open their doors to more children from the start of this month, the NASUWT has been inundated with reports from teachers and school leaders whose employers are forcing them to work in ways that are simply not safe. Staff from BME communities continue to search in vain for any purposeful recognition by the DfE of the higher levels of risk they face.
"It is a matter of profound regret that, so far, the DfE has persisted in its view that these shortcomings are not its problem.
"The Government’s response to the outcomes of the Expert Advisory Group is right to emphasise the importance of teacher wellbeing. In addition to its welcome additional funding for the Education Support Partnership, it must give practical effect to its words by ensuring that from now on, it will play its full part in securing wellbeing by requiring every school to operate safely and actively supporting them to do so."