Successive lockdowns have placed unprecedented pressures on pupils and staff in UK schools, and there is little agreement on the best way to solve the crisis facing the nation’s education system.
Education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins’ bombshell resignation may have cast doubt on the Government’s commitment to funding a meaningful recovery plan – but did his own recommendations, which included adding 30 minutes to the school day, stand up to scrutiny?
Experts at educational wellbeing specialists Welbee have questioned whether Sir Kevan’s £15bn plan represented the best package of solutions for UK schools, regardless of the Government’s failure to find the money, and are keen to highlight the importance of staff wellbeing to any recovery plan – an issue which has taken a back-seat in the media storm surrounding Collins’ departure.
Collins’ proposals would have seen each UK pupil receive 100 additional hours of teaching, a load which would inevitably have meant shorter lunch breaks and longer working hours. Welbee founder Mark Solomons believes more needs to be done to safeguard the health and wellbeing of teachers and all school staff, if students are to benefit in the long-term.
“Tired teachers being asked to do more is not the recipe for great lessons and a long-term catch-up plan.
One wonders whether the teachers were actually asked their opinion in all this. We should ask schools to put forward their own catch up plans and what they need to deliver them, rather than some grand plan from the centre. They are best placed to know their students and can work with others locally to share practice too.
Sir Kevan Collins was right to highlight how disappointing the Government’s watered down recovery plans are, but his proposals for longer working hours are short-sighted at best, counterproductive at worst."
Welbee’s UK school staff wellbeing survey, undertaken directly with staff and outside their usual school survey's is set to be published imminently, and indicates exactly why.
“Our staff wellbeing survey shows that school staff feel their wellbeing is being compromised more than that of workers in other sectors because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
They value a caring, considerate workplace culture and truly appreciate the time they’re afforded to take a break – time which would be significantly compromised under Sir Kevan’s proposals. How would saddling staff with a greater teaching load and longer hours benefit students? At Welbee, we believe that the way to deliver the best outcomes for pupils and students is to put staff first. Happy teachers and support staff create happy classrooms. Piling more stress and pressure on teachers and support staff could have a detrimental effect on the quality of education pupils receive – precisely the opposite of what is needed right now.
In our view, transforming the workplace culture in UK schools to put teachers’ and staff wellbeing front and centre, coupled with increased capacity, is the best way to future-proof the education system in this country.
Our research shows that all school staff – not just teachers – deliver the best experiences for pupils when they are energetic, enthusiastic and driven. They are a school’s best asset, and at Welbee we believe any meaningful recovery plan must have staff wellbeing at its heart."
May 12, 2022
February 23, 2021