With inadequate mental health support many teachers are feeling overwhelmed and under pressure to keep up with their day-to-day work load. This is due to the on going pandemic and uncertain government guidelines.
The announcement of a second lockdown in October, meant that shops restaurants and several other establishments were forced to close down. However, essential workers including teachers were amongst the few still expected to work.
With unclear and unreliable government guidelines, It has become increasingly difficult for teachers to implement safety measures in place to protect themselves and students. This in turn is affecting the mental wellness of educators.
According to an investigation by education support, there has generally been a widespread feeling of being undervalued and under appreciated amongst staff. Teachers Wellbeing index shows that since October stress levels amongst heads and other senior member of staff had reached 89%.
Twenty nine-year-old associate assistant principal Joanna Silva, said: “I generally don’t feel that there was anything that my school as an employer had on offer or could do to make you feel better.”
Silva explained that although staff are provided with 10 free counselling sessions, it was difficult and almost impossible to find the time to book a sessions. She described the offer as being very “tick box”, meaning that schools have the ability to say they provided their employees with help for their well being incase they were asked what they’ve done to make sure teachers are mentally capable of effectively doing their jobs.
With increasing work load, and general low morale, there has been an increasing pattern of teachers leaving or considering leaving the profession. Silva added, people are weighing their options and asking questions like “is the job worth the stress of not being able to see family but still being required to teach a class of up to 30 people.”
The pandemic may be the only reason why some teachers are still holding onto their jobs. Education accounts for 29% of the public sector pay, but with the announcement of the public sector pay freeze, there’s a sense of disappointment amongst teachers, who have had to put in twice as much work as they would have in previous years with very little support.
During the first lockdown, staff were forced to quickly adjust and adapt to remote teaching. “It’s is a completely different way of teaching and so we had to adapt all of the stuff we had really quickly with really short notice.”
Silva explained that the pay freeze “was a slap in the face considering the extra hours that were put in and some teachers still having to put their health at risk by going in to support vulnerable kids.”
With teachers feeling like they’re being used as “glorified babysitters,” not enough care or concern for their well being and immense amount of work, it’s no surprise that teachers are thinking about changing their profession. If schools are going to avoid an unemployment crisis, they will have to find a way to put the needs of teachers at the forefront.