The annual Tes School Wellbeing Report released on Tuesday shows that amid a budget crisis in schools, unrelenting workload and unrest over static teacher pay, staff in schools are no happier than they were at the height of the pandemic.
However, there are also positives as the report reveals that teachers remain committed to young people’s education and are still proud to work in schools.
The major findings from the 2023 Tes School Wellbeing Report include:
- Less than one in five (18%) of respondents say their workload is manageable; this has not improved since the Tes Wellbeing Survey last year.
- Almost two thirds of respondents (61 %) say their school isn’t well funded.
- This is having a direct effect on how school staff feel they are performing: 43 % say they do not have enough resources to do their job.
- More than half of staff (51 %) say they don’t have a voice about how things go in their school. This is slightly increased from the 49 % who said the same a year ago.
- Only around a third (35 %) of school staff told us that they feel valued at work, while 44 % said that they do not.
These findings shine a light on the worrying state of staff wellbeing in our nation’s schools. Systemic issues such as school funding, hit hard by the energy crisis and rising costs, are continuing to put pressure on schools and staff. Continued poor wellbeing among school staff is exacerbating the problems of teacher recruitment and retention, meaning that keeping teachers in schools and looking after their wellbeing and development is even more important now than ever.
However, there are positives to be taken from the report, as it reveals that teachers remain committed to young people’s education.
- Over three fifths (58 %) feel confident performing their role. This is an increase from 54 % last year.
- Almost half of respondents (47%) say they are proud to work at their school, while less than a third (33%) say they are not.
- Over half (53%) say their colleagues care about them, suggesting that most staff rooms remain collegiate places and teachers are happy to support each other.
- Almost three quarters (71%) say that staff at their school have good relationships with the students, while only one in ten (11%) say they do not.
These results show that students remain at the front of teachers’ minds and are consistently being prioritised.
Meanwhile, the survey revealed some of the steps that schools are taking to tackle the staff wellbeing issues they face and make progress in this area despite the odds:
- Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents said their school has implemented wellbeing surveys to gain insight into staff wellbeing.
- Half (50%) say their school has provided resources on wellbeing to support staff.
- A third (32%) say their school has invested in staff development.
The survey also showed how schools are using better processes and embracing technology to help reduce workload, admin tasks and class management which all help to improve the day-to-day wellbeing of staff:
- Nearly half (49%) of responders said their school has reduced marking to help alleviate workload.
- Over a third (34%) reported a streamlining of staff meetings.
- A third (32%) said their school has implemented behaviour management software to help lighten the load.
Grainne Hallahan, Senior Education Analyst at Tes said:
“This report reveals how stuck in a rut teacher wellbeing is – and this news is disappointing but expected. When we read the headline figures of teachers leaving the classroom at higher rates than ever – these are the stories behind those decisions. We can see that the impacts of mounting workload, a budget crisis in schools and unrest over teacher pay are all continuing to take their toll.
“However, to look at the positives – we can see that when schools get the working conditions right – teaching continues to be a worthwhile and rewarding job. The results also tell us teachers are proud to work for their schools and serve their communities, they are supported by their colleagues, and cherish their positive relationships with students. Teaching is the best job in the world – but only when it’s given the right conditions to allow that to happen.”
Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support, the charity that’s been supporting teacher and education wellbeing for 146 years, said:
“This report by Tes echoes the findings from our Teacher Wellbeing Index in 2022, which showed that school staff are at risk of chronic stress, anxiety, burnout and depression. It is no wonder, as schools are under more pressure than ever, with increasing need among our children and young people. Staff are working tirelessly to keep children learning, and to support them emotionally too. Often with inadequate resources and at great personal cost to their own health and wellbeing. The systemic drivers of stress must be addressed, or we risk losing talented and dedicated teachers and leaders, who can help young people to reach their full potential.”
Richard Tutt, Director of Secondary Education, Astrea Academy Trust who contributed to the report said:
“The sector is facing a recruitment and retention crisis and teacher burnout is a very real challenge. It is something that we must prioritise and tackle head on if we are to keep our best colleagues and successfully fill vacancies. And it goes without saying that improved teacher wellbeing undoubtably has a positive effect on pupil wellbeing, and in turn pupil outcomes. Research suggests that if we’re aiming to create an environment where students can excel, then the wellbeing of teachers must be prioritised.”
Ben Gibbs, Wellbeing Lead at the student wellbeing solution ‘Tranquiliti’ said:
“What’s becoming clear now – from all the recent reports and from our own data – is that the issue of wellbeing in schools is systemic and therefore complex. There are important interdependencies between staff and student wellbeing and these need to be understood and addressed. Smart tech in the hands of the students and staff can help surface issues and create practical actions. Critically, to ensure young people feel secure and confident enough to learn in schools, the teaching staff around them must also feel secure and confident enough to teach.”
The 2023 Tes School Wellbeing Report shines a light on the ongoing tug-of-war of the teaching profession: while systematic issues such as funding and workload are continuing to push staff to their limit and consider a move away from schools entirely, strong relationships with students remain front and centre, and pride in this vital work remains buoyant.
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