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Coronavirus shutdown: how are teachers coping?

We ran a survey to find out, and here's what we learnt...

  • Coronavirus shutdown: how are teachers coping?

It’s no exaggeration to say that primary teachers across the country are working under unprecedented conditions.

Schools closed on Friday and many educators are now working from home or helping to look after key worker children and vulnerable pupils in school.

We ran a poll to gauge the mood of the nation’s teachers.

Social distancing

57% of those we surveyed were very or extremely worried about the impact coronavirus would have on them personally.

The impact of needing to go into school to look after key worker children and vulnerable pupils is clearly weighing on many teachers’ minds.

“You can’t practise social distancing with children effectively and so teachers, who are vulnerable themselves or who have vulnerable people at home, have little protection from pupils who come into school with infection,” explained one respondant.

Another teacher suggested that hubs should be set up to look after any necessary children in the local area, limiting the number of individual schools that would need to open.

Working from home

80% of teachers stated that it is now either somewhat or very difficult to work effectively these days.

Teachers’ biggest concerns about having to work from home included losing contact with vulnerable pupils (69%); general anxiety about the impact of coronavirus on their life (42%) and finding it more difficult to communicate with colleagues (34%).

Other concerns included feeling isolated (29%), internet connectivity issues (21%) and having access to the right tools and information to do their job (16%).

One teacher noted that they were now being asked to work virtually “with no prior experience or knowledge of how to do it.”

SLT woes

It’s not just classroom teachers feeling the strain, either.

One SLT respondent to our survey said, “I am exhausted and emotionally drained with organising everything so that our staff and pupils are looked after. I also have children and elderly relatives.”

The difficult decisions that SLT have had to make during the last few weeks have clearly taken their toll, with one respondent deeming this “the worst week ever to be in leadership.”

They continued: “All schools are offering different options as there has been no central direction. This had led to us all being compared and criticised.”

Another leader added, “I am worried about asking my staff to work and put themselves at risk of contracting the virus. I am also worried that they will miss Easter holidays and be exhausted.”

On a brighter note, 80% of teachers reported that they were receiving daily updates from SLT about the situation, with 60% very or extremely confident about their leadership team’s ability to make the right decisions during this difficult period.

Key workers

Parents have, in some teachers’ opinions, added to the stress, with one teacher noting, “The key worker list should only have been NHS. Too many parents are trying to jump on the bandwagon so they can continue making money.”

Another respondent reported being sworn at by “stroppy parents who think they are key workers when they are not.”

Another teacher reported asking a pupil why his dad could not look after him. “He said he had an important golf competition – I rest my case!”

Pupil concerns

Unsurprisingly, concern for pupils is top of teachers’ agendas, with 45% not feeling confident about pupils’ support systems during the shutdown.

One teacher commented that they were particularly concerned about vulnerable children who are not on an EHCP or child protection plan. “We’ve already documented signs of neglect,” they noted.

Another teacher commented that they were concerned about vulnerable pupils dropping off the radar.

“These high-risk pupils are in homes with adults who do not engage with social care at the best of times. We take great care to watch over these children and now cannot. Many of them have more than five people in their household so could tell us they are self-isolating for ten weeks.”

Thank you very much to everyone who took the time to respond to our survey. For our round-up of home learning resources to keep primary pupils busy during the COVID-19 shutdown, visit here.

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