Wales’s largest education union says that preparation for the new curriculum, the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Act (ALNET), and funding issues leading to the cutting back of teaching assistants and teachers in many schools have exacerbated workload issues which has led to a marked increase in stress and mental health issues in teachers. The National Education Union Cymru is calling for training to be provided for Workplace and Health & Safety reps to equip them with the skills and knowledge to improve staff wellbeing in schools. They are also calling for all schools to have trained and certificated Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) as well as a staff mental health policy.

David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said:

“Our members are clear that the Welsh Government needs to take the mental health of those employed in education seriously. We welcomed the statement that the Education Minister made during mental health week back in May where she mentioned that we cannot expect our teachers to provide effective support to our learners, if they themselves are not supported.

“We’ll be seeking to work with Welsh Government and local authority colleagues to ensure that this must be a priority.”

Motion 8.        Staff Wellbeing

Conference Cymru notes: 

  1. That according to Wales Trades Union Congress 97% of workers say employers have a responsibility to support the mental health of their staff but half of employers don’t have a mental health policy.
  2. That union representatives in schools and district secretaries have been working tirelessly to combat the causes of stress and increased workload.

Conference Cymru welcomes the following statement made by Kirsty Williams during mental health week in May, “We cannot expect our teachers to provide effective support to our learners, if they themselves are not supported. That’s why we’re working to address teacher’s workload concerns by moving to more digital classrooms, streamlining marking and assessment arrangements, as well as offering better guidance and supply arrangements in schools. We have also had early discussions with universities to look at ways of supporting the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) curriculum to include engagement with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and mental wellbeing issues.”

Conference Cymru believes that preparation for the new curriculum and the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Act (ALNET) have driven teacher workload up even more in recent years. Furthermore, funding issues leading to the cutting back of teaching assistants and teachers in many schools have exacerbated workload issues which has led to a marked increase in stress and mental health issues in teachers.

Conference Cymru condemns the disregard for staff wellbeing in a profession that is becoming driven by rigorous testing, scrutiny and accountability.

Conference Cymru therefore instructs the Executive through the Wales Committee to: 

  1. Make staff wellbeing a priority campaign.
  2. Provide training for school and Health & Safety reps to equip them with the skills and knowledge to improve staff wellbeing in schools.
  3. Campaign for a mental health policy for staff that works within the Health & Safety policy in all schools.
  4. Campaign to have trained and certificated Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) in all schools.
  5. Publish examples of good practice in schools working to promote staff wellbeing and to establish a culture of openness surrounding mental health.

Amendment

  1. Add a new sentence at the end of v:

“Encourage accreditation of education establishments which identifies them as good employers who value their staff e.g. Investors in People.”

Wales
Rhaid i les staff fod yn flaenoriaeth

Materion cyllido sydd wedi arwain at leihad yn y nifer o gynorthwywyr addysgu ac athrawon mewn llawer o ysgolion, wedi gwaethygu materion baich gwaith sydd wedi arwain at gynnydd amlwg mewn materion straen ac iechyd meddwl mewn athrawon.

Press contacts:

The National Education Union is an amalgamation of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and National Union of Teachers (NUT), formed on 1 September 2017. Please see the below contact details for assistance:

Contact: David Evans, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ.  Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07815 071164.

e-mail: david.evans@neu.org.uk

Contact: Mary van den Heuvel, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ.  Tel: 029 20491818.

e-mail: Mary.VandenHeuvel@neu.org.uk

Note to editors:

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges to form the largest education union in Wales.
  • The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.