Schoolzone | Primary school leaders' reflections on the first month of lockdown

Primary school leaders' reflections on the first month of lockdown

Date: 29.05.2020

Primary senior leaders

Here's what primary senior leaders told us, via our May survey of over 3,000 teachers:

  • Always have a high workload and work excessive amount of hours a week however this has been even more so with balancing home learning and work.
  • Angry and disappointed that I’m unable to see close friends and family but being asked to educate young children in groups of up to 15. It is unfair. Also angry that decisions have been made regarding encouraging young children to come into school by government ministers who have obviously go no idea about Reception and Nursery provision and how young children behave.
  • Anxious about losing people I love, scared the government do not have the public’s best interests or well being at heart.
  • anxious and overwhelmed with the amount of work to be completed along side the normal referrals and request other agencies who are working are requesting to be completed.
  • As a Head teacher the workload has been extreme, unrelenting and worrying. As a Head teacher for a SEND school, with very vulnerable students (physical disabilities and complex medical needs, 2-19 years) the most disappointing thing in all of this has been the complete lack of consideration or understanding of SEND in government information - all my students have EHCP's and are vulnerable due to health needs but we have had little guidance of this group - instead gov't use of EHCP and vulnerable has lumped all SEND together. In addition, gov't guidance about schools not needing PPE has been very unhelpful for a school like mine - so we are using NHS guidance and levels of PPE. It has been a worrying time - for my own family, for my health (having had COVID-19 a week after we closed) as well as my students,staff and school.
  • As a SENCO (part-time) my anxiety levels have increased considerably since the announcement that all EHCP pupils should be 'urged' to return to school (as well as yr F, 1 & 6 plus all the vulnerable & KW children we are also already providing for). I have managed to keep positive only by forcing myself to 'switch-off' as much as possible outside working hours. There are also feelings of frustration about not feeling listened to at times.
  • At times completely overwhelmed by the decisions required of me as a head teacher. Panicked about the amount of work to do. Guilty about the amount I am asking others to do in terms of workload and putting themselves at risk by being in school. Sleepless nights, nightmares.
  • Calmer and happier - less stressed. Reduced workload, less travel and more time for family
  • confused and frustrated with the overload of conflicting, repeated and often vague and therefore unhelpful information coming into schools
  • Constantly overloaded; tied to the computer; tired and unwell
  • Demoralised and undervalued by government, press and public.
  • Depressed at lockdown . Having to go to school with other people’s children. Yet not able to see my grandchildren .
  • I have suffered from major depressive disorder in the past so I am maybe not the best person to ask
  • Now I’m going back to school I feel like I don’t know how to teach. I lost my mum to Covid and I couldn’t keep her safe so how will I keep my class and staff safe?
  • Disorientated and a feeling of loss of control over my destiny.
  • dramatic highs and lows of stress
  • Emotions are like a yoyo, up & down. They range from fear, stress, anger, sadness and can be mixed with more positive emotions.
  • Enjoying life and the slow down with the pace of life. Eating better Sleeping better Enjoying family life
  • Exhausted by endless workload with no end in sight. Feel those making decisions don't care about children or understand schools.
  • Exhausted, confused, lacking support
  • Feel stressed and anxious nearly all the time about work. Spend most of my time answering and sending emails making phone calls and attending virtual meetings rather than fulfilling my role. Sleep patterns highly disrupted.
  • Feeling like I am doing my bit in the battle against Covid
  • For most part have been happy and able to complete work but I have no children at home.
  • For the first time in 30 years teaching I want to give up and do something else.
  • Frustrated as my partner is shielding I have to do my role from home. Stressful making significant Leadership management Decisions from afar.
  • Frustrated that I can't actually do what I want to do. I am spending endless hours reading guidance, planning and then discovering the guidance has been 'updated' sometimes the next day! I'm trying my best to be upbeat and support my staff but I'm becoming increasingly concerned that this is an impossible task. Nobody can crate a 'COVID secure' work environment. When home on my own this goes round and round in my head, the impact of this situation is vast. Especially if you are trying to do the right thing and lead others through it.
  • Frustration, pressure, stress, unsupported by other agencies.
  • Have some times felt like my head might explode with all the information.
  • Health and safety comes first education is important but can sorted at a later date.
  • Horrendous stress and anxiety at times, particularly the time leading up to the lock down because of the lack of advice, support and guidance from local and national government. Managing parent and colleagues anxiety was difficult too as having to be supportive of them and manage own workload and stress while planning for the lock down. Now with the planning and preparation for a phased re-opening in June I am trying to ensure that we do not let our anxiety reach those levels despite the worry I have for staff well-being and how to keep them safe given that children are super carriers of the virus..
  • I am just so busy. But sometimes I worry that I could be more effective. It has helped to try to identify 2 big tasks each day, otherwise they disappear in a mass of email answering, checking on class and learning, and SEN support.
  • I am still working hard but not able to do a lot of my job effectively and frustrated by having to do everything remotely. Not feeling I can have much of an impact as can't actually have contact with the children (I work in SEND/emotional support). Worried about our vulnerable families and trying to get in touch with them.
  • I began with a positive frame of mind, but hit a wall after about 5 weeks. I now try to be realistic and not too optimistic.
  • I feel like I haven't stopped. I've had to stop reading the papers as they are fuelling a negative attitude towards teachers. We haven't stopped working!
  • I feel that juggling work expectations with home life is difficult. Like most families, our extended support network is very different and I feel work expectations do not account for this.
  • I hate this. I feel discriminated against by my work because I am not going in. I have an auto immune disease
  • I have been able to undertake my role as Trust Safeguarding Lead across 8 schools within our trust, working from home and feels this has not impacted on my role. Skype and Microsoft Teams has be extremely useful!
  • I have been anxious about being asked to go into school as I am 65 and due to retire at the end of term. I have also not been active and have put on over a stone.
  • I have felt a lot of anxiety and frustration during these times. Constantly changing daily guidance only serves to increase those feelings
  • I have felt some much less stressed. Lockdown has been really good for my mental wellbeing and I am almost dreading returning to normal life.
  • I have had to deal with a lot of mental health and wellbeing issues from pupils, staff and parents, and that has had a direct impact on my mood and wellbeing too.
  • I have never slept so badly!
  • I have really enjoyed spending time with my family but guilty that I cannot go in due to shielding, so am doing more work to try to compensate
  • I know I am doing my best in unchartered waters but the teacher bashing we are getting from media and social media sources are completely demoralising.
  • I think Lockdown probably saved my sanity
  • I was coping well shielding at home but have been very anxious now I will need to return to work.
  • I’m finding myself very stressed in terms of work. I hate the fire fats for a working day and being contactable at all times. No respite from calls and emails in the holidays. Very difficult to please all stakeholders. No one goes in to teaching not to interact with students.
  • Increasingly unsupported in the SENDCo role
  • Initially very stretched then everyone settled into routines and problems were ironed out and work life balance was better but since the uncertainty of government announcements and June 1st manning staff and parents anxiety has been all consuming.
  • Initially, better able to manage time and use it to support my well-being. Head did ALL. organisation re- school as I organised online learning team etc From 10 May - anxious, time scales, uncertainty, loss of sleep, less able to switch off.
  • It has allowed me to re connect eith my family
  • It has been mixed the highs and lows. The lows have been the loss of life, the confusing messages and seeing the worst side of people. Namely, employers expecting staff with school aged children to work from home as if having to be a care giver and / or home school makes no difference to your capacity. The highs have been to spend quality time with my ten year old, learning new skills in baking and DIY. Able to attend a great number of zoom classes without having to find a babysitter. Seeing more birds in the garden and talking to my neighbours more. Seeing the best side of people especially frontline workers.
  • It has been really strange. Hard to adapt to a lack of clear direction or certainty around next steps. This makes it hard to make decisions for your school.
  • It has been wonderful being able to do my job and only focus on the important things, such as education, less paperwork, less wasted times in meetings and the staff room, less distraction, being able to surround yourself in positive people, feeling more connected with my children's parents. It has been wonderful as a parent not to be running about from club to club, social event to social event, school runs.
  • It has not been easy, bouts of tears from frustration several times.
  • It's a bit like a roller coaster of emotions - very up and down
  • I've been teaching and working hard but I have still loved lockdown
  • I've found my workload increasing as lockdown continues, particularly planning for the new academic year in the midst of so much uncertainty.
  • Less balanced unit has been more of a roller coaster of emotions and feelings
  • Like the weight of the world is on my shoulders
  • Lonely, isolated and under excessive pressure to deliver the impossible
  • Lost! Education is about people and not being able to interact with those people is difficult. There are decisions around class structure, budgets etc that are very difficult to make through email
  • Mainly fine, but anxious when it is my turn on the rota to be in school.
  • More tired than usual. More tearful than usual.
  • mostly panicked and stressed. Concerned about the well being of my family, pupils and staff and struggling to balance the needs of these groups.
  • My emotions are on a roller coaster. some days I feel purposeful and positive, other days - hopeless. The media attention and portrayal of the profession doesn't help. Changing and unclear guidance from Govt isn't helpful either. When I am in s school I feel that I can get on with my job and try to make a difference.
  • My home life is better and I feel less stressed. Ia m able to better support my family with things that they need to do. My work life is harder, I feel like I am not effective in what I am doing because I fundamentally want to be in my classroom, teaching, not staring at a laptop.
  • My life as a part time teacher and mum of two is busy and hectic. My workload and stress is normally high. Since lockdown... it has gone significantly down! I spend my days with my beautiful children walking in the woods and doing craft. I have to do some planning and school work (and my reports! Not done yet) but my workload is significantly less.
  • on Shetland, we have been out of school since Monday 16th March. We have been supporting pupils since that date and as such, I feel weary and disinterested. I am now wising the next day off (weekend) would come so that I can switch off for a couple of days.
  • Overwelmed by the pressures Too much reading and updated guidance to remeber everything. Ive felt swamped and stressed
  • Overwhelmed by the amount of information coming from the DfE Frustrated by when the information is released such as at 7pm Weighed down by the responsibility of decision making
  • Overwhelmed with the constant guidance and changing information, a real sense of heightened anxiety across the sector is felt.
  • Pretty miserable with the uncertainty of everything
  • Remote, isolated
  • Scared, isolated, hyper vigilant, reactive, surviving.
  • Sometimes feel bored as I am spending a lot of time on my laptop whereas when I am teaching I am on my feet the whole day
  • Sometimes I feel that I am not sure if what i am doing is correct
  • STRESSED
  • Teachers in general have not been valued. The rhetoric that schools are closed, or have been, is entirely wrong and many staff are doing more work than in their normal role, without any of the benefits of the job (i.e. seeing children)
  • The lack of support in preparing for pupils returning to school safely and the negative press towards teachers made me feel very anxious
  • The media and government bashing of teachers has really been detrimental to my mental health
  • The pressure is immense. The hate directed at the profession has been devastating for teachers and senior leaders. The information is overwhelming and confusing. Why can a teaching assistant not see her own grandchildren but it's OK to be in a confined space with 15 of someone else's grandchildren? It's ultimately my responsibility and I'm dammed if I do and dammed if I don't.
  • The school is fine and so are my team. The lack of government support and finger pointed has caused huge anxieties and 100+ hour weeks which is not ok
  • The work load has been outrageous. (Special school head)
  • There have been ups and downs but working consistently in school has negated these 'bumps in the road' somewhat.
  • These variable above are changing daily and through out the day
  • Things have changed from quite relaxed at the beginning of lock down to far more busy and quite manic now schools are looking to open on June 1st. Trying to do work, being a teacher at home, be a carer for my father and not enough hours in the day.
  • This is a true reflection of how I felt BEFORE the government's announcement of reopening schools
  • tired, anxious, low self esteem,vulnerable, creative
  • Tired, guilty that I have to consider bringing people back to work who are very anxious
  • Too much responsibility has fallen on my shoulders regards decision making about risk to staff and children's health
  • Unappreciated by the Government and not recognised for the work we are doing as school staff. I also feel exhausted as there has been no downtime and no more to come in the near future. I have been dealing with a family bereavement and feel like the Givernment haven't listened to our views and trusted us.
  • Undervalued and berated by the British press. Yet again it seems teachers are the villains of the piece, politicians do not support the profession because if the press is targeting us then they are not under the microscope for their decisions. I foolishly thought people might respect the profession more after having to home school.
  • Unsettled, stressed.
  • Unsure and sometimes isolated but well rested.
  • Upset about the vitriol in the press about teachers being lazy and cowards. Angry that we are not considered important.
  • Useless - wish I could do more.
  • very stressed especially last 2 weeks
  • Working every day, weekends, evenings, holidays. Naturally glass half full person, need to keep looking and acting positively. But finding it very difficult. EatI got properly, exercising well, but still tired. It is relentless, thankless.
  • Working my socks off, trying to teach online, working with keyworker children twice a week, updating new curriculum, senco issues and forms, sorting out reading issues and ordering books, writing intent statements, writing spring reports and now full reports for summer, managing staff, managing my own families well being and health issues. Shopping for the elderly in my family. Maintain my house. Its never ending. I feel overloaded. And now have to teach in school and remotely as split year 1/2, plus no returning EYFS staff so have to manage TAs in this class.
  • Workload has tripled at least. It was hard at the beginning when we were working from home. I’m a Family Support Partner and deal with very vulnerable families. My husband does not work in education so I suppose I felt guilty bringing my job into our home. I have a good routine now and switch my work phone etc off at 5.30. My sleep has improved since doing that. I’ve just about found a balance!
  • Workload is higher and as a part time worker that is hard to get the balance - at present as SENCo and Senior Leader I could work 24/7. Not enough hours in the day to get everything covered. Lots of extra paperwork re risk assessments and supporting vulnerable pupils as well as doing Y6 transition paperwork. constantly using PC so screen time immense and feel effecting eyes. Media have been horrendous about teachers and this has effected well-being as we have never stopped working and just want to be cared about and considered. We always put pupils first and work over and above our hours and yet we are being subject to public abuse and mainly from Government ministers. Disheartening and upsetting. Feel really angry this week due to what is being said in the media. Ministers have actually lied about us and our attitudes. We are working hard!!!
  • Worried, anxious, concerned, confused
  • Worthless due to the media reports on school staff just being 'lazy' I have not had a day off since Christmas