Lessons in laziness from lie-in teachers: Schools now offer employees last minute ‘duvet days’ as part of incentive to recruit new staff
- Schools desperate for talent as national shortage of teachers reaches a crisis
- Candidates offered ‘golden hellos’, free gym memberships and retail discounts
- Potential employees also offered ‘duvet days’ instead of phoning in sick
You might expect to find a teenage pupil occasionally attempting to take an impromptu day off to laze around in bed.
But now teachers are being offered ‘duvet days’ – where they can call in at the last minute for an extra day off – as an incentive by schools desperate to recruit new staff.
The days are over and above the normal, generous holidays and are just one of a number of perks being offered as the shortage of new teachers reaches a crisis.
Enticements include four-figure ‘golden hellos’, free gym memberships and retail discounts.
But critics have condemned the duvet days as ‘sending out the wrong message’ about teaching.
The perk already exists in private companies and allows employees recovering from a night out or feeling they cannot face work to phone in and take the day off without an excuse.
But now the scheme is being extended to schools, although heads said they would prefer some notice before awarding staff the time off.
Soho Parish Primary in Westminster has advertised for a reception class teacher with the promise of a duvet day and free weekly Pilates and mindfulness courses.
Head teacher Joffy Conolly said the initiative would help boost the welfare of staff and increase loyalty.
And the head teacher of Long Sutton Primary in Lincolnshire, has set aside more than £3,000 of his annual budget for duvet days.
Bill Lord claimed the perk was ‘a hard-nosed business decision’ which helped retain the best teachers and attract applicants.
He said: ‘Recruitment is incredibly tough. We’re working in an area where it’s not uncommon to receive zero applications for a post, so we always include it in our job adverts.’
The trend comes amid a growing row between unions and the Government over a crisis in recruitment, particularly for subjects such as maths.
The Department for Education has missed teacher-training targets in most subjects for five years and has been forced to sponsor a £300,000 drive to attract applicants from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and the US.
In other benefits, Newham Council in East London will pay newly qualified primary teachers £1,000 ‘golden hellos’ and offer interest-free loans to pay off student debt.
After struggling to appoint maths teachers, St Illtyd’s Catholic High School in Cardiff designed a recruitment package that included a £5,000 golden hello.
But critics say the cost of such perks is unjustified when school budgets are stretched to breaking point.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘It sends entirely the wrong message about teaching, which needs to be presented for what it is – an energising job, the best job in the world if you are cut out for it and have a vocation.
‘The disruption to pupils’ learning is a major concern, but as so often is the case with public services, the best interests of the provider – the school – trumps the best interests of the consumer, the pupil.’
However, Catherine Maskell, global head of marketing at recruitment company Reed, said: ‘We will always support innovative measures that can attract more talented teachers to education and motivate staff to do even better work for their pupils.’