Our teachers are on the verge of a strike. In a recent article by Schools Week, we learnt that a whopping 69% voted in favour of strike action*. Overall, 90.44 per cent of voting members said they supported strike action over pay, with a turnout of 53.27 per cent**.

Whilst we fully understand and sympathise with the impossible place school leaders are in, their frustrations, and the urgent need to encourage a drastic change for schools, we also want to make sure that students will still get the unwavering guidance and support they need and deserve.

We’ve known for a while that teacher burnout is at an all-time high, and ever-rising. Teachers have been overworked and underpaid for far too long, and the 2022 budget announcement was the kick in the teeth that school leaders and teachers really didn’t need. They’ve been put in an impossible situation, at a time when bills are increasing and people are under pressure with all aspects of life, affecting their wellbeing.

The ideal solution? The Treasury steps up and finally sees our state schools as the integral, invaluable machines that they are, and provides them with a realistic amount of support and funding. The reality? Our school leaders feel the need to threaten strike action and halt their fundamental work in order to get the recognition they deserve.

But what are the implications on education and student wellbeing if the school system halts?

Alongside the wellbeing concerns teachers are facing, we’ve seen a 39% increase in child referrals for mental health care in England in a single year*** and there is no room for our most vulnerable to be forgotten. Teachers are having to step into a role way beyond their paygrade which is far from ideal.

If schools aren’t open, who is going to catch the children who need support? Which children will fall through the cracks? How can students support their studies and wellbeing alone? The answer is, they can’t.

The children’s mental health crisis we are seeing has, of course, been amplified by the pandemic, but also, social inequality, austerity and online harm***. If schools are to close, these are the children who will likely be most affected, yet again. We need to be closing the attainment gap, not increasing it.

So, how can we support vulnerable students? We need a solution; a safe place students can turn to for support whenever they need it. Whether it’s help with algebra, superlative adjectives, or bullying, our children deserve to have their questions and concerns answered.

In all areas, askOLA fits the bill.

askOLA is an online, on-demand support platform that is supporting students around the UK with their academic and wellbeing needs. OLAs (Online Learning Assistants) are the digital equivalent of a Teaching Assistant, there to support the pastoral and learning needs of children. It can be purchased for year groups, whole schools, or entire MATs, to give extra hands where they’re needed the most. OLAs are online from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week, so students can seek support in and out of school hours. By partnering with mental health provider, Kooth, askOLA is able to support students with wellbeing concerns or they can signpost students with more severe concerns to a mental health professional. askOLA also provides wellbeing support for all school staff, aiming to support the entire school community through these difficult times.

If you need a solution that ticks all the boxes visit www.askola.io, or, please, talk to GLUU, because mental health is at the heart of everything we do.


*ASCL: 7 in 10 heads vote to move to formal strike ballot (schoolsweek.co.uk) 

**NEU teachers in England schools vote to strike (schoolsweek.co.uk)

***A 39% increase in child referrals for mental health care in England in a year • FUND OUR NHS (nhsfunding.info)

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