Mounting pressures could see Calderdale teachers leaving the profession after pandemic is over

Poor health and wellbeing resulting from pressure endured by teachers through the COVID-19 pandemic could see some leave the profession after it, a watchdog board member has warned.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 3:00 pm

Lay member Shelagh Hirst told Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Board staffs’ health and wellbeing must be a concern and wanted to know what extra support the council would give them.

Ms Hirst said that contrary to what people might see in some media reports claiming schools had had it easy over the last 12 months during the pandemic, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Quite rightly we are concerned about the health and wellbeing of the students going forward, but we ought to be concerned about the health and wellbeing of staff.

Could there be a reduction in teachers in Calderdale?

“We are aware those in our schools have been working throughout at home or in school.

“I am concerned about burnout and the impact on them longer term.

“I am picking up from contacts in the education world that there are various people thinking ‘I’m seeing the pandemic out, then I shall be moving on’ which will be a great shame,” she said.

Ms Hirst said media reports indicated schools would be asked to work through this summer, as they had last summer anyway, and she wanted to know what was being done to retain teachers in the profession and make sure Calderdale had enough staff for its schools.

The council’s Assistant Director for Education and Inclusion, Lesley Bowyer, said the council was aware of potential problems and was already looking at retention of staff.

This was being discussed by a steering group, there were things Calderdale could do as a local authority and pressure was being put on the Department of Education to work with the council on this issue.

The Schools Alliance would continue to help and in September a Schools Hub would be in place.

Staff absences were being monitored in terms of both COVID-19 or non-COVID absences.

“Headteachers have reported they are seeing staff absences occurring and others are very concerned it is going to happen.

“Staff have been working harder than ever over the last 12 months, most of them managing remote and face-to-face learning,” she said.

Teachers and support staff had also had additional pressures of implementing COVID control systems which had allowed schools to operate as safely as possible during the pandemic – they have always been open for children of key workers and vulnerable children – including cleaning and all the measures that need to be in place, said Ms Bowyer.

As well as exam assessments, teachers would also be assessing other children’s work even if there were no exams, and some staff were still having to shield from the virus, she said.