None of us want our children to be in an environment where stress, anxiety or depression is widespread – and yet that’s the case in all too many schools. And it’s time this was tackled head on.
A new UNISON survey has revealed that more than half (52%) of school support staff in the UK have experienced stress, anxiety or depression. Two-fifths of those who took part in the survey said they had difficulty completing their work, and more than one in eight said they found it impossible to manage all that was being asked of them.
That can’t be acceptable in any workplace, but when the well-being of our children, the running of their schools and the health of vital public servants is on the line, something has to give.
It would be deeply damaging (albeit unsurprising) if many hardworking, dedicated staff were driven towards the exit door.
Unfortunately that’s exactly what’s happening. Almost half of support staff (47%) said they are considering leaving their jobs thanks to low pay, stress and huge workloads. Teaching assistants in particular are forced into taking on teaching roles on a regular basis, covering classes with no support and fuelling stress and ill-health.
Anyone who knows school staff knows that these are people who will always go the extra mile and put in a stint for their school and the children they work with, that goes above and beyond the call of duty. But for them and for all school support staff we are reaching the point where their goodwill is being abused. And as school staff support numbers are cut, the situation is only going to get worse.
Unless the government gets their act together, many of these invaluable public servants will leave their jobs – and their skills and talents will be lost to schools and children alike.
That would be an absolute tragedy – and one that can easily be avoided, if action is taken quickly.