Toby Lester
4 minutes length
Posted: 21st August 2019

Turning the tables for teachers

Do you remember your favourite teacher? Most of us were lucky enough to have one who we idolised throughout our school days, a teacher that no other could possibly live up to. 

Whoever they were, primary or secondary school teacher, sixth form tutor or supervisor of your favourite after-school club, their teachings stayed with us long after we walked out the school gates for the last time.

For those starting their own training in preparation for a career in the classroom, the thought of being that special teacher to at least one student drives them each and every day. The dream of being awarded a ‘World’s best teacher’ mug, placed proudly atop their desk, something they mull over during their days on work experience. 

Not so happy teachers

Recently, frequent media coverage has removed the rose-tinted spectacles from the teaching profession; headlines sharing statistical downturns in graduates, complaints of workload and mental illness share a grim picture of those teaching young people today. A poll by the National Education Union (NEU) recently found that more than a quarter (26%) of those with less than five years’ teaching experience plan to quit by 2024.

Research shows that the majority of teachers refer to excessive workloads bordering on the unmanageable. Daily responsibilities that go above and beyond teaching (lesson planning, marking, reporting etc) often result in teachers working up to 70 hours a week, double the national average. 

Alongside the pressures of maintaining a hefty workload, there is also the time-consuming task of responding to ‘incessant’ parent emails. It seems today’s parents have high expectations when it comes to email admin. Many teachers, keen to avoid parents airing their frustrations over social media, find themselves responding to emails late into the night. 

Action plan

What can we do to ease pressure on teachers from September? From experience, we know there are a few ways to lend a helping hand both in and outside of the classroom, allowing teachers to focus on what they do best – teaching! 

Here’s our action plan for supporting stressed-out teachers this year:

Evading email bombardment

Understandably, parents on occasion want to discuss their child’s progress, the latest school report or talk through the internal politics of their child’s friendship group. However, with the average class now made up of 30+ students, a teacher’s inbox can quickly turn into a black hole of no return – at least, no return for a few hours each day.

Parental engagement is important but must be managed efficiently to be truly beneficial. September is the perfect opportunity to introduce a communications policy which steers parents away from regular and direct contact with teachers. While parent feedback should be encouraged, it should be managed in a controlled and professional manner.

An online communications platform such as ParentMail offers a coherent, organised and professional opportunity for schools and parents to share news, information and queries. Face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations, where possible, are far more productive than the back-and-forth of emails.

Challenging chase-ups

Feedback, appointments, permissions and more; rarely a day goes by when schools aren’t requesting some form of information from parents. Prompting teachers to distribute forms and subsequently chase up non-responsive parents is likely to result in more time-consuming admin (and a lot of wasted ink and paper).

Save time in the office by removing the middle-man and managing communications online. Our Online Forms collection platform offers the flexibility to build and send forms for all your school’s needs. And, with Parents’ Evening Manager, parents can book appointments online, eradicating paper-slips and side-stepped appointments.

ParentMail utilises handy deadlines and automated reminders to chase missing responses. Parents’ Evening Manager provides handy timetables in advance, allowing teachers to plan ahead for the night.

Cashless classrooms

Cash on school grounds brings about a whole host of issues; lost dinner money, parent arrears, extortion and bullying, to name a few. Eliminate cash-related upset in the classroom with online payments.

A cashless platform to collect parent payments online for club fees, school trips and dinner money is the safest and most convenient method for everyone, cutting out any need for teachers to handle cash payments in the classroom. 

Our new advance bookings feature with +Pay delivers on all of your wraparound care and lunchtime needs. Reduce admin-related hassle in the classroom by enabling parents to book club-places, make dinner selections and pay with our free mobile App. 

Build relationships

Parental engagement goes a long way in supporting a student’s learning. Being involved in their child’s education is a great way for parents to continue a teacher’s great work at home.

With one in four teachers experiencing violence in the classroom every week, behaviour is another contributing factor to many leaving the profession. Developing a supportive environment in which not only the student, but families, too, feel comfortable to work through behavioural issues is important. 

Internally, working as a team to develop and share behavioural policies, schedule meetings and maintain regular communications is a great way of supporting teachers, with the entire student population benefitting in the long-term.

As we welcome in a new September, it’s time to turn the tables for teachers. Whether during the busiest periods of the year or in small ways every day, seeking out opportunities to support staff is key to the successful running of any busy school. 

To find out how ParentMail can support you with affordable yet powerful technology, get in touch.