Head teachers and senior management staff in schools facing 'excessive and unsustainable' workloads

Senior teachers could be facing ‘burnout’ warns the Educational Institute of Scotland

Head teachers are facing extremely high workloads, Scotland's largest teaching union has warned.
Head teachers are facing extremely high workloads, Scotland's largest teaching union has warned.

Head teachers and members of school senior management teams have said they are facing “unsustainable” and “excessive” workloads, Scotland’s biggest education union has said.

The Educational Institute of Scotland held its meeting of head and deputy head teachers network on Friday with several concerns raised around the level of workload and support from the Scottish Government and local authorities.

Blended learning plans, scrapped by education secretary John Swinney after a push-back from parents, had taken up significant amount of time over summer, an issue compounded when plans for a full return to school and the associated requirements for enhanced hygiene in school buildings coincided with the exam results fiasco which lead to another u-turn from Mr Swinney.

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The EIS have warned the Scottish Government that senior management teams are already exhausted and facing burnout, less than a month after pupils returned to schools.

Other concerns include lack of support with digital teaching methods due to poor IT infrastructure and connectivity, making working online and holding virtual meetings “impossible”, alongside increased stress connected to health fears due to the likelihood of Covid-19 spreading within schools.

Lorraine McBride, convener of the EIS head teacher network, said the changing policy around schools had “substantially increased” teacher workload with a “particularly heavy burden” falling on senior management teams.

She said: “Burnout is a very real risk for members of staff who have not had a real break since before the lockdown began.

"The challenge of having to plan entirely new methods of educational delivery, then re-plan again at short notice as a result of changes in government policy, has heaped huge amounts of pressure on school management teams (SMTs) across the country.”

She added, “The levels of additional management and HR functions that SMTs have faced have been quite incredible. As one Headteacher told the meeting today, he was required to carry out 30 individual risk assessments in the week before the school re-opened, which he was committed to doing but had to do without any extra support being provided to him.

"That represents additional workload, over and above all of a Headteacher’s normal responsibilities, and illustrates the unmanageable and unstainable levels of workload pressure that SMTs are facing in schools across Scotland.”

“The risk to the health and wellbeing of headteachers and deputes is very real and very worrying.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We do not underestimate the extraordinary efforts being made by school staff to support education recovery.

"Their work to welcome our children and young people back into schools in challenging circumstances is vitally important, and the Scottish Government is working closely with local authorities, unions and other key partners to offer support wherever possible.

“We are continuing work with partners to ensure that the right support is in place for school staff. Our guidance on school reopening has been developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group, and makes clear that the health and wellbeing of staff is a key principle of education recovery.”

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