Work-related emails are invading teachers’ home life, says NASUWT

Nearly half of teachers say that work-related emails are significantly driving up their workload and invading their home life.

The NASUWT survey of more than 1,500 teachers found  only 5% of teachers did not receive work-related emails outside of school hours, with more than four in ten (41%) often and 15% constantly receiving work-related emails during periods of sickness absence. More than a quarter (26%) said they often and 9% said they constantly receive emails during other periods of absence such as maternity, paternity or bereavement leave.

Nearly two thirds (63%) said they often receive work-related emails on workday evenings, 55% in mornings before school, 58% during weekends and 45% during holidays. In addition, 85% of part-time teachers say they are expected to check and respond to emails on days when they are contracted to work.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Rather than helping teachers to work more efficiently, email abuse is instead electronically tethering them to their classrooms adding to their stress, anxiety and workload.

“For many teachers there is no escape from work. No respect or concern being shown for them even at some of the most difficult and distressing times in their lives such as bereavement or sickness.

“There is something fundamentally wrong about a management culture which has no boundaries of consideration or concern.

“Teachers are not just facing the intrusion of those who manage them into their private lives but there is now an unreasonable expectation that they are available at the convenience of parents.

“Many schools are now providing app links for parents which raise the expectations that teachers are available anytime anywhere.

“Damien Hinds has recently taken to wringing his hands in public about his concern for teacher workload, including the email culture pervading schools but what is he actually doing about it?

“He exhorts schools to free teachers from emails to work more in the classroom. He clearly has no concept of either the scale or the nature of the problem. It’s home invasion by email which is the problem.

“It’s the tyranny teachers are facing in their inbox, which is all part of an anything goes management culture this government has allowed to flourish across schools, where teachers’ health and well-being  is not even given a second thought.”

14% of respondents reported receiving emails at midnight and 8% at 1am. 12% said they receive emails at 5am and 40% at 6am.

Nearly six in ten (57%) said they are expected to respond to these emails in their own time, with over half (55%) saying they are made to feel guilty if they do not respond. Over a quarter (26%) said their email or online activity was monitored by their school.

Communication with parents is adding to the issue, with 14% saying they are expected to communicate electronically with parents in their own time every day, with a further 19% saying they are expected to do so several times a week.

71% of teachers said their email address is made available to parents by their school, but 90% said this was done without their permission.

The growing use of apps such as Class Dojo and social media by schools was also highlighted by many respondents to be adding to workload burden on teachers to communicate with parents.

Education Secretary Damien Hinds recently called for a “shift away from an email culture in, and into school to free teachers up to spend more time in the classroom.”

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