Teacher’s wellbeing – The landscape of teacher wellbeing
What’s it like around here?
It will likely come as no surprise to you that being a teacher is challenging. Recently the one of the leading charities and research groups for teaching professionals found that teacher stress levels have increased for the third consecutive year; and remain at the highest ever recorded (Education Support, 2020).
In their survey they found:
• 62% of education professionals describing themselves as stressed.
• 70% of senior leaders working more than 51 hours per week
• Workload was a key factor in stress
• Increases in symptoms of poor wellbeing
• Tearfulness, insomnia, concentration problems have high occurrences
• Barriers to reaching out for help remain
• Stigma and shame are high with access to safe spaces at only 8%
• 53% said they don’t receive enough guidance about mental wellbeing at work
• 42% unsure if there is a wellbeing policy
• Only 50% felt they were well supported
Over the last decade teacher wellbeing has impacted on teacher retention levels with 1 year retention rates remaining similar but 3 year and 5 year retention rates are dropping considerably. with the number of working-age teachers leaving the profession increasing from 25,000 in 2010-11 to 36,000 in 2016-17.
• that the Dfe work with OFSTED to simplify accountability systems and reduce the unnecessary pressure it places on teachers.
• the new OFSTED framework having an active focus on reducing teacher workload
• funding a 2-year support package for all new teachers, which includes a dedicated mentor, a reduced timetable and professional development
• increase opportunities for flexible working and job-sharing.
• new specialist qualifications for teachers who want to develop their career/progression.
• simplifying the process for becoming a teacher and initiatives for people to get the opportunity to try out teaching before they apply
On Ofsted in particular they recommended that:
• Teachers and leaders use assessments to help students embed and use knowledge fluently and flexibly, to evaluate the application of skills, or to check understanding and inform teaching.
• Leaders understand the limitations of assessments and do not use it in a way that creates unnecessary burdens on staff or students.
• Increase alignment of continuing professional development for teachers and staff with the curriculum, and the extent to which it develops teaching content knowledge over time, so that they are able to deliver better teaching for pupils.
• Improve the extent to which leaders take into account the workload and well-being of their staff in order to deliver a high-quality education, while also developing and strengthening the quality of the workforce
• Inspectors will consider the extent to which leaders engage with staff and take account of the main pressures on them, engaging with them realistically and constructively.
• Inspectors will also consider the extent to which leaders protect staff from bullying and harassment.
Hopefully over the coming years teachers these recommendations will translate into on the ground changes that support and protect teachers. Teaching is a psychologically demanding profession that should be recognised alongside other health professions in this respect (although work is still ongoing in those professions also). However whilst useful for context this information does not directly improve teachers wellbeing – for that we need to look at some practical aspects of teachers wellbeing.