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Teachers’ working week to be cut by five hours as part of efforts to improve staff recruitment and retention





Hundreds of school leaders will be offered professional counselling under new plans to support teachers’ mental health and tackle the numbers quitting the classroom.

Plans to cut staff workloads by five-hours-per-week have also been agreed as part of new measures the government has unveiled to improve recruitment and retention in the profession.

There are plans to press ahead with efforts to cut workloads of staff. Image: iStock.
There are plans to press ahead with efforts to cut workloads of staff. Image: iStock.

Data from the Department of Education suggests that close to 40,000 teachers left for reasons other than retirement in the academic year 2021/22 – some of the highest figures since records began.

In an attempt to ensure, it says, that teaching remains an ‘attractive and rewarding profession’ the government is bringing in a number of measures this year it believes will support staff.

They include investing £1.5 million in a three-year mental health and wellbeing support package for 2,500 school and college leaders - providing professional supervision and counselling.

Thousands of qualified teachers quit the profession each year. Image: iStock.
Thousands of qualified teachers quit the profession each year. Image: iStock.

Schools are also going to be issued with new guidance on how to prevent and tackle the bullying and harassment of staff - amid fears the numbers being attacked by parents and pupils is rising.

Separately, the Workload Reduction Taskforce - made up of unions, teachers and sector leaders - has also agreed to help reduce the working week of teachers by five hours within the next three years.

Schools are waiting for new guidance on how to tackle bullying and harassment. Image: iStock.
Schools are waiting for new guidance on how to tackle bullying and harassment. Image: iStock.

Performance-related pay is also expected to be replaced in September – an announcement welcomed by unions as a ‘positive step’ in cutting unnecessary bureaucracy.

In a joint statement, the NEU, NAHT and ASCL explained: “It has become increasingly clear that not only does performance-related pay not work in the education sector, but it also drives unnecessary workload and bureaucracy for leaders and teachers alike. Its removal is a positive step.

“Reinserting a list of bureaucratic tasks that teachers and leaders should not be expected to do into the school teachers’ pay and conditions document is also helpful and the new non-exhaustive examples better reflect how schools operate in 2024. Of course, the update is only a very small part of the work that now needs to take place if we are to begin to see the reductions in workload we all aspire to.”

The government says it is committed to supporting teacher recruitment and retention. Picture: iStock.
The government says it is committed to supporting teacher recruitment and retention. Picture: iStock.

School Minister Damian Hinds said the government is committed to supporting schools and their teachers.

He added: “Great teaching is the key ingredient to academic success – and while we now have more teachers than ever before – it’s crucial that we continue to ensure that teaching remains an attractive and rewarding profession.

“That’s why we have announced new investment and reforms today to support teacher wellbeing, ease workload pressures and tackle bullying and harassment of staff.”



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