In conjunction with our colleagues at SalamanderSoft and ANME
IT, Admin and data professionals in schools and MATs, just like their teaching staff colleagues, are under immense pressure. They manage the school IT infrastructure, including their crucially important MIS systems, learning and teaching software, parental engagement software and much more. They also have to handle all IT-related issues and are called upon to ensure the school/MAT complies with data privacy rules etc.
Our relationships and positive social connections are essential for us to thrive. The quality of these, at home and at work, truly matter. In the preamble to The Anna Freud Centre’s booklet: “Supporting Staff Wellbeing in Schools”, promoted by the DfE, the organisation’s CEO starts by saying: “Teaching is a tough job”.
Are IT, Admin & Data professionals, and the specific nature of technology roles in schools and MATs, given enough weight in the wider discussion about staff wellbeing?
We think they certainly should be. Which is why we wanted to shine a light on the wellbeing of IT, Admin and data professionals in schools and MATs across the UK.
This document is based on the output of a wellbeing survey commissioned by SalamanderSoft Ltd, where we collected the thoughts and feelings of IT staff working in schools and MATs across the Country.
A survey link was sent via e-mail to 3,600 contacts who work in schools or MATs across England.
We also posted access to the survey on the ANME (Association of Network Managers in Education) website.
The survey was open between 6th of June and 14th of July 2023 and consisted of 35 questions in total. The majority of these took the form of a statement and respondents were asked to rate to what extent they agreed with it. 594 people completed the survey.
In this blog we’ll deal with how respondents felt about their role and their own capabilities.
I’m sufficiently challenged in my work:
It’s encouraging to see that the majority of research participants (almost 64%) feel sufficiently challenged by their work, while slightly more than 3% didn’t agree.
Being challenged in the workplace is a strong contributor to job satisfaction and can help individuals develop professionally and expand the limits and capabilities of their careers. This is particularly encouraging when coupled with the positive response to a previous question about their abilities: respondents are challenged, yet confident in their own abilities
My work gives me a sense of personal accomplishment
A sense of accomplishment is important because it helps employees feel motivated, engaged, and satisfied with their work.
Having a sense of achievement can also enhance productivity, improve staff retention, help to create a healthy bond with colleagues and boost self-esteem.
In fact, studies have shown that, over time, feeling a sense of accomplishment is an important factor in staff developing positive wellbeing.
Whilst this chart paints a positive picture, it is less vibrant than responses we see in other questions.
In order to promote a sense of accomplishment leadership should ensure they are setting achievable targets, offering appropriate support and constructive criticism, and celebrating successes.
I feel involved in the decisions that affect my work
Just under 36% of respondents said they felt involved in the decision-making process – with almost 20% of respondents disagreeing strongly with the statement.
When done effectively, involving employees in decisions, particularly those that directly affect their work, leads to greater engagement and commitment to the desired outcome.
When employees feel their voice is heard and their opinion matters, they will have a greater sense of ownership and purpose.
Leadership should ensure they ask employees their opinions before making final decisions and demonstrate active listening when soliciting input.
My skills and abilities are valued and appreciated
It’s concerning that only a third of respondents to this survey strongly believed their skills and abilities were valued and appreciated
Even more concerning is the fact that almost 20% of staff felt their skills and abilities were not respected – and just under 8% of those gave the lowest score possible.
School and MAT leaders should ensure that they balance criticism with praise, seek input and feedback, make employee growth a priority and ensure that mutual respect and gratitude are an integral part of the organisation’s culture.
I have the tools I need to do my job effectively
Giving staff the ‘tools’ they need is more than just making sure they have the equipment that they need – it’s about ensuring they have the resources their job requires. This should include consideration about IT staff having sufficient support from colleagues.
Restricted budgets might explain why a smaller percentage of people selected positive options than in other questions – but not why so many people strongly disagreed with the statement.
Leadership should take some time to review and ensure that all team members have what they need, within reason, to do their job effectively and happily.
IT, Administration and Data staff in the UK’s schools and MATs are generally confident in their own abilities.
They feel able to do their job well, are sufficiently challenged and get a sense of personal accomplishment from their work.
However, they want to be more involved in the decisions that directly affect their area, and the research points to a perceived under-appreciation of their skills and abilities.
A large number of respondents didn’t feel valued for the work that they did – some even believed that they were being treated unfairly, and that they weren’t always respected for the job they did.
The next blog from this survey will cover the results around Management.
ABOUT THE SURVEY SPONSORS:
SalamanderSoft are experts in bespoke integration services – helping educational organisations make the most of the data and services they already have.
They provision, maintain and manage users in Active Directory, Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Apple School Manager and more.
The ANME is a membership group for IT staff in UK education.
Founded in 2014 and now with over 1,500 members, the ANME provides a professional support group, offering meetings and an online portal allowing members to meet colleagues from other schools and share best-practice.