Teachers Could Buckle Under ‘Catch-Up’ Plan Pressure

Teachers Could Buckle Under ‘Catch-Up’ Plan Pressure

There is a focus to recover the “lost learning” caused by school closures. NASUWT leader, Patrick Roach believes a “sustainable approach” must be taken to ensure teachers don’t get “burned out” in light of the recent catch up plan.

After the Prime Minister’s roadmap announcement, schools and colleges were reopened for class teaching on March 8. Before settling back in, secondary schools were urged to consider implementing face-to-face summer catch-up sessions to restore the pandemic’s damage on academic attainment. Lost learning needs to be tackled but what effect will the catch-up have on teachers?

The general secretary of the NASUWT Dr Patrick Roach, calls for a “sustainable approach” to the catch up plan, otherwise the profession could “lose valuable teachers”. 

He highlighted that teachers were already “double-jobbing” with teaching face-to-face and remotely, while also having to “grapple” with the fear of putting themselves and their loved ones at risk by coming to work, as well as having to cope with the constant demands of the latest GCSE grading and assessments announcements. Teachers are at serious risk of burn-out if schools place too much pressure on them to run catch-up sessions. Teacher workload is a major problem.

Catch-Up Plan Pressure

The government emphasised that they would be engaging with educators and educational charities to develop longer-term catch-up plans. Dr Roach questions: “How is workload being addressed? Or are schools assuming that either it’s not an issue, or we’re just going to have to work much harder because pupils have lost out on a year’s education?”

The expectation to work “much harder” is a fear for many perpetually overworked teachers. Without a sustainable approach, teacher “morale is going to completely drop through the floor”. In addition to their normal duties, there are now extra demands on senior leadership. These demands include tracking covid test-and-trace over the Easter break, organising summer school catch-up and providing tuition support to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils. Educators have their hands full.

Dr Roach made it clear that the union was not in favour of the government’s choice of “catch-up”, due to the “quick-fix” implication and the unnecessary pressure it places on teachers and pupils. Calling it “a recovery programme and plan” is more accurate because “short-termism is not the approach we want to be taking. It’s got to start with urgency, but we’ve got to be seeing a very clear and coherent plan around how a recovery is to operate”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have invested over £2 billion into ambitious catch-up plans and schemes to provide pupils with devices for remote education – with funding targeted at disadvantaged children and young people who need support the most. Our Wellbeing for Education Return programme is supporting staff in schools and colleges to respond to any wellbeing issues they or their colleagues may be experiencing.” 

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) chief executive, Natalie Perera, stated: “The new recovery premium is a step in the right direction, but £6,000 for the average primary school and £22,000 for the average secondary is much too modest to make a serious difference.”

The chancellor’s 2021 Budget Statement made no mention to increase funding for important services for children and families. This means the weight of responsibility will fall squarely on teachers and schools. There’s a serious possibility that they will be left under pressure – picking up the pieces. Where’s the concern for “well-being” in that?

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