School heads warn of unsustainable Covid burden

News Article

Ofsted has revealed that schools are buckling under the ‘unrealistic pressures’ of delivering education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Inspectors who visited a number of schools during the autumn term reported that head teachers were facing “unrealistic pressures” and that staff were “tired or exhausted”.

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, has said that that arranging cover for staff absences due to self-isolation or positive Covid tests and more stringent cleaning regimes has led to additional financial pressures on school funds leaving senior leaders feeling that they are “firefighting”.

The Ofsted report follows visits, some of which were carried out remotely, to 380 schools during the autumn term and states that: “despite the generally high levels of resilience…. staff are tired or exhausted, and that workload had increased”.

The report also warns that: “The pressures on senior leaders – including headteachers – across many schools have also increased. Leaders described these pressures as unsustainable, overwhelming or unrealistic”.

James Bowen, director of school leaders’ union the NAHT, said: “School budgets were already incredibly tight.

“The Government’s refusal to recognise the financial difficulties schools are now facing due to Covid-19 and fully reimburse them for the money they have been required to spend to make schools safe, means that not only is money being taken away from children’s education and wellbeing, it could push some schools over the edge financially.”

Samantha Randall, an Associate Solicitor and employment law expert, said: “Headteachers and governors have a delicate balancing act to perform, to ensure that the school meets its duties both as an education provider and as an employer.

“In particular, staff’s mental health needs to be considered, in addition to the continuing measures being put in place to protect their physical wellbeing as they provide both remote teaching and in-school provision for vulnerable and key worker children.”

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