Any headteacher will be aware of the impact of burnout on their workforce and the potential knock-on effects it has on a school’s ability to deliver outstanding education. Teaching is widely known as one of the most stressful professions (though it is also one of the most rewarding). So, with workloads only increasing, how do you prevent your key staff from suffering from burnout?
According to a new report a quarter of leaders, teachers and support staff said additional responsibilities were adding, on average, between four to six hours onto their working week. Another 15% of staff said they were spending an extra seven to 10 hours a week providing services including emotional and wellbeing support for children. The drivers behind the growth in demand for additional support to pupils are varied, however, the widespread collapse in support services feeding into schools is a key factor. It has been suggested that this additional burden is leading to burnout among teaching workforces and forcing many to leave the profession entirely.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of leaders’ union ASCL, said staff had become the “de facto and unofficial branch of social and healthcare services […] but without the training, capacity or resources to discharge such responsibilities, [its] placing staff under intolerable workload and stress.”
The most common additional responsibilities cited by school staff in an investigation by YouGov and Education Support included offering pupils and colleagues emotional support (62% and 50% respectively) and dealing with difficult pupil behaviour (62%) while nearly three-quarters (74%) said they were regularly helping students with non-academic matters. In addition, a third of teachers had helped pupils resolve a family conflict and, alongside emotional support, professionals also reported helping their students with more practical issues like preparing food when they didn’t have any and buying supplies such as pens, paper and bags for pupils. Crucially, nearly three-quarters of staff who responded to the YouGov survey said their extra duties have had a negative impact on their mental health.
With these rising demands in mind, along with the more regular challenges facing educators, it’s understandable that your teaching workforce is facing the prospect of burnout. But what are the warning signs to look out for and how can you use them to better manage the wellbeing of your staff?
Identify mood changes
This may include both emotional and physical exhaustion and can be highlighted through significant changes in outlook or mood such as frustration and irritability, mood swings, impaired concentration, chronic fatigue and insomnia as well as physical symptoms such as increased illness, palpitations, gastrointestinal pain, headaches and dizziness.
Spot the signs of job detachment
For teachers, this may develop through cynicism and pessimism towards the profession, pupils, colleagues or the school itself. The person with burnout may prefer to avoid contact and involvement with others, and experience a loss of enjoyment from the things that once brought pleasure.
Keep an eye on performance
If a teacher’s performance starts dropping through negative feelings, lack of productivity and poor performance it may be a sign of burnout. Evidence of this may be feelings of hopelessness and apathy, low self-confidence, increased irritability with themselves and others, increased time spent completing tasks and apathy to want to do so.
Have sustainable access to supply staff to reduce the burden
Having good, trustworthy supply staff in place in case you need them can reduce the risks of teacher burnout in your school and can provide a much-needed break for your staff that clearly need it. By having a robust talent pipeline in place, you can also remove some of the stress for the teacher who may be questioning whether they should take a break in case there’s no one to replace them. It also significantly lessens the chances of you rushing to find a replacement only for the individual provided at short notice to be a poor fit with your institution. In addition, costs can be reduced and by utilising our unique, custom-built platform you have complete control, and can build a ‘bank’ of cover staff and streamline processes. All our candidates are strictly vetted and paid at the best market rates, so when you work with us you know you’ll have access to the best quality teaching and support staff to build your talent bank.
Burnout is an issue facing professionals across a number of industries and teachers are perhaps one of the most severely affected groups. If you would like to ensure the resilience and robustness of your workforce in the long term and guard against the risks caused by this condition, then speak to us today.
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