24/7 teachers hounded by emails from parents

Constant emails from “aggressive” parents are becoming “unbearable” for some teachers, a survey suggests.

By Nina Massey
Sunday, 21st April 2019, 11:29 am
Updated Sunday, 21st April 2019, 11:34 am

The poll indicates seven in ten teachers have had their email addresses passed on to parents, leading to the unreasonable expectation they are available at all hours. Of these, 90 per cent said this had been done without their permission.

According to a poll of 1,572 teachers by the NASUWT teaching union, 14 per cent are expected to communicate electronically with parents in their own time every day.

Nineteen per cent said they were expected to do this on a weekly basis.

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An angry inbox is adding to stress for many staff. Picture: Juice/Rex/Shutterstock

One teacher said: “The expectation in the school is that a reply to all emails will take place within a reasonable timeframe, if it is from a parent, and if there isn’t a reply then a senior leader gets involved and there is a reprimand that teachers should reply to parents ASAP.”

Another commented: “The communication with parents via email has become unbearable and I am resigning from a pastoral position as a result.

“Parents may be rude and aggressive in emails (and staff may be too at times) and parents expect to be able to contact teachers 24/7.”

Other respondents felt there was an expectation to reply to parents almost instantly and some did not agree with receiving emails from them.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “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.”

The poll found only 5 per cent of teachers did not receive work-related emails outside of school hours, with 41 per cent often and 15 per cent receiving them while off sick.

Teachers also reported being emailed while on maternity, paternity or bereavement leave.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of the respondents said their email or online activity was monitored by their school.

Keates added: “Rather than helping teachers to work more efficiently, email abuse is instead electronically tethering them to their classrooms, adding to 
their stress, anxiety and workload.

“For many teachers there is no escape from work. No respect or concern being shown for them even at some of the most difficult and distressing times in their lives such as bereavement or sickness,” she added.