Dangers of excessive workloads

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13 September 2016 by ATL
Shelagh Hirst, ATL president, puts the issue of excessive workloads under the spotlight at TUC Congress 2016.

Excessive workloads, caused by the current educational system, are detrimental to the mental health and well-being of our students, and staff. Excessive and unreasonable workloads, stimulated by the farcical curriculum, the inappropriate testing regime, causes stress, poor work/life balance and mental health issues.

ATL members are clear that testing and exams are the most significant cause of poor mental health and stress for our students. A view that is evidenced by the significant rise of children accessing help and advice from ChildLine because of pressures linked to academic achievement and fear of failing.

How can anyone ignore the overwhelming evidence from NSPCC, ComRes, and Mental Health Foundation reports highlighting that three students in every classroom are affected by mental health issues. They are then denied having the access to the services and support they need. Apparently, too many children are just not ill enough to be helped.

Cuts to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and the sacking of the Children’s Mental Health Tsar are symptomatic of a Government that does not understand the extent of the problem.

The National Foundation for Educational Research report  which has found that job satisfaction, workload, having adequate resources, reward and recognition are key factors in retaining staff. It’s no wonder there’s a staff recruitment and retention crisis in education. One example reports newly qualified teachers resigning within weeks of starting in the profession, due to excessive paperwork and timetable overload.

Let’s be clear, the deteriorating mental health of teachers impacts the quality of education they can provide for students, which in turn, impacts their mental health and well-being.

The Government has to take seriously its responsibility for the poor mental health and well-being of its workforce and students and put in place an action plan to address this.

ATL’s extensive workload survey led to our innovative and pioneering online workload tracker, available across the workforce.

Members have used the ATL work-life tracker to track individual work-life balance, working hours, and personal, major drivers of workload. This, in conjunction with ATL’s Make One Change campaign, has enabled the widespread sharing of brilliant ideas to empower the profession to begin to conquer the workload mountain. This reduction of excessive workloads must be a priority.

ATL will give you the help and advice you need, and use your information to inform our campaign and discussions with government.

You can read Shelagh's speech in full and find out more about ATL at TUC 2016.

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