Teacher well-being is at it's lowest ever recorded!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Teacher well-being is at it's lowest ever recorded, the education workforce are stressed and over worked, there is a poor organisational culture across many schools and colleges and there is low trust in the accountability system - these are the findings from the 2023 Teacher Well Being Index by Education Support

The research was conducted using an online survey of education staff drawn from YouGov’s panel. A total of 3,004 education staff completed the survey, which was conducted between 27th June and 24th July 2023. The sample included all job roles within the education profession from senior leaders through to support staff and across a variety of settings including early years, primary, secondary, further, adult and vocational education sectors.

The Teacher Well-being Index Key Findings

The overall well-being score of the education workforce was 43.65

Teacher wellbeing has declined significantly over the past year and for the first time since Education Support started tracking it, the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Score (WEMWBS) for teachers is lower than that for senior leaders. The WEMWBS is a measure used by a variety of different organisations, including governments, to gauge the mental wellbeing of a population. Scores between 41 and 45 should be considered at high risk of psychological distress and increased risk of depression. Scores below 40 suggest an individual could be at high risk of major depression and should be advised to seek help.

78% of teachers reported being stressed -  this rose to 89% for senior leaders.

The proportion of teaching staff and senior leaders reporting stress was the highest ever recorded, since the Teacher Well Being Index started 7 years ago.  

The proportion of teachers and lecturers reporting mental health issues due to work is at it’s highest level since 2018, with 81% of staff experiencing at least one behavioural, psychological or physical symptom linked to their work.

51% of the education workforce surveyed experienced insomnia or trouble sleeping. 

Worryingly, 5% of educators who responded, experience acute stress or burnout and also feel isolated from others always or often. The report recognises that within this cohort, there is an increased risk of suicide.

73% of teachers think inspections are fit for purpose.

The Teacher Well Being index highlights the issues of legitimacy and trust around school and college inspections and shows the impact on workforce well-being. 71% of staff believing inspections negatively affect their mental health and 73% of staff think inspections are not fit for purpose. Worryingly, only 10% of staff surveyed thought that inspections improve student achievement.  

55% of educational staff surveyed reported that the culture of their school or college is having a negative impact on their well-being. 

There has been a significant rise in the impact of workplace culture having a negative impact on staff wellbeing. 55% of teachers and education staff reported that the culture of their school or college has a negative impact on their wellbeing; compared to 38% who responded in the same way in 2020. Education Support believe that external pressures and demands on the system is shaping the culture within schools. 

“Whilst college, school and MAT leadership teams hold responsibility for some of the cultural issues, we think that the lack of capacity in wider public services, the increase in children and young people experiencing destitution, ongoing post-pandemic scarring, challenging pupil behaviour and the inadequacy of SEND provision are driving negativity in workplace culture across the sector. Schools are insufficiently funded to meet the extent of demand they now face from their communities.”

Education Support’s Recommendations

  • All education departments must develop a coherent and fully funded strategy to improve the wellbeing of the education workforce.
  • Suicide prevention must be prioritised. Urgent work is required to reduce the levels of stress, burnout and loneliness across the education workforce and ought to form part of the workforce wellbeing strategies we recommend above.
  • The inspection system must be overhauled, with work required to improve trust, legitimacy and the perceived fairness of inspection across all nations.
  • Investment must be made in soft leadership skills and support given to sector leaders to develop the high quality social, emotional and behavioural skills that matter so much for organisational cultures.
  • A fair funding settlement that matches current levels of demand on schools and colleges is needed.
  • The wider ecosystem of public services must also be properly funded.
  • A review of training frameworks to reflect the current reality of educators’ lives and embed mental health and wellbeing.

You can read the full report here