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NASUWT Conference ’19 Teachers made to feel guilty for not responding to emails outside of work hours

TEACHERS are being made to feel guilty if they do not reply to “how dare you” messages from parents, a union has warned.

A survey of over 1,500 teachers, published today by teachers’ union NASUWT, found that only 5 per cent of teachers did not receive work-related emails outside of school hours.

Teachers told the union they often receive work-related emails, including from parents and school management, when off sick or on maternity leave. Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) said they got emails in the evening, and 55 per cent before the school day began. Fifty-eight per cent received work-related messages at the weekend, and 45 per cent during school holidays.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said parental communication apps such as Class Dojo were encouraging parents to think they could expect immediate responses from teachers. This was becoming a problem when kids arrive home and tell their mums and dads they have got into trouble.

“What a lot of our members are telling us now is that [parents] don’t ask the question ‘what did you do?’ Ms Keates told journalists at the union’s annual conference.

“Immediately there is an email fired off or there’s something put on the app saying: ‘How dare you do this to my child!’

“What teachers have told us is that there does seem to be a lot more parents not just questioning what children are doing, but taking at face value what they are saying. And that results in them getting an aggressive email when actually there is another side to the story.”

Fourteen per cent of teachers reported receiving emails at midnight and 8 per cent at 1am. Twelve per cent said they receive emails at 5am and 40 per cent at 6am.

At the union’s conference on Saturday, delegates endorsed a motion pledging to “challenge unreasonable workload demands on teachers”.

They resolved to take “all appropriate action including industrial action” to achieve this if necessary.

Lewisham delegate Cynthia Harding told the hall she had received emails on Sunday mornings.

Nearly six in ten teachers said they are expected to respond in their own time, with 55 per cent saying they are made to feel guilty if they do not.

Ms Keates called for schools to introduce policies making it clear that staff are not expected to reply to work emails out of hours.

“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,” she said.

“What you will often find is the tone of a lot of communications is often far more aggressive than if you are speaking or writing a normal sort of letter.”

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