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Teacher workload affecting mental health

09 February 2022

OVER THREE-quarters of teachers in the Isle of Man said their job has had an adverse impact on their mental health in the past year.

88% of teachers who responded to a wellbeing survey conducted by the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union said their workload has increased over the last 12 months, with cover and non-teaching activities such as administrative tasks, meetings and record keeping cited as the biggest drivers of increased workload.

Over half of secondary teachers are covering lessons for absent colleagues at least once a week, with two-thirds saying the amount of cover they are being asked to do has increased in the last year.

Only 15% felt their school took their wellbeing seriously.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT said, “The survey results paint a bleak picture of the increasing workload pressures teachers are being faced with.

“Previous surveys had found workload was already excessive, but the latest survey shows the situation is deteriorating still further for teachers.

“Many of the drivers of excessive workload identified by members are unnecessary, or do not require the skills of a qualified teacher. They are actively detracting from the ability of Manx teachers to focus on their core responsibilities of teaching and learning and ensuring pupils have the support and attention they need to make good progress and achieve.

“In particular, the fact that most secondary teachers are spending huge amounts of time covering for absent colleagues is of deep concern. Cover is not an effective use of a teacher’s time, and causes significant increases in workload.

“The Department for Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) must recognise that, without action, there is the very real prospect of a viral pandemic being replaced by a work-related stress, anxiety and depression epidemic in schools.

“This in turn will threaten the retention and recruitment of teachers in the Isle of Man, undermining the recovery of pupils’ education from the impact of the pandemic.

“The NASUWT urges the DESC and Isle of Man Government to grasp the nettle and work with the Union to find ways to ensure teachers are able to spend their time focusing on teaching related activities and ensuring cover is only required rarely, if not eliminated completely.”