Following the news that teachers will go on strike in February and March, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), comments:
“The general unrest we’ve seen spread across the public sector meant that this news wasn’t a surprise for many. While there will, of course, be concerns around the impact strikes will have on pupils across the country, the more pressing issue is the skills shortages that the sector has been facing.
“The education sector has struggled with resources for some time and the pandemic only exacerbated the issues. Professionals have faced mental health difficulties and burnout since Covid-19, juggling already significant workloads alongside the move to virtual teaching. Issues around supply teachers have only added to the problems the sector is contending with. Staff illnesses – which have become a more prevalent challenge in the post-Covid era- have put further pressures on temporary resources which were already in short supply across the education arena. This has led to an increase in staffing costs at a time when schools can ill-afford the additional expense.
“There needs to be a fundamental rethink around how the education sector’s staffing challenges are addressed, including more sustainable and cost-effective access to supply teachers which will only help improve the financial situation across the sector and, in turn, help solve some of the salary concerns that the TUC has raised.
“On a longer-term basis, though, the education arena needs a well-overdue boost of talent to help remove the work burden that is driving so many professionals to not only strike, but also exit the sector altogether.”