Less than half (49%) of teachers would describe their jobs as ‘fun’ post-COVID, with the rapid shift to online learning implemented in response to the outbreak significantly impacting teacher workload and wellbeing.
The inaugural Tes Staff Wellbeing report – the first of what will be a bi-annual publication – draws on responses from more than 61,000 school staff across the UK and the world, revealing that educators face a heightened risk of poor mental health and wellbeing compared to others working in less stressful professions.
According to the results, almost a quarter (24%) of respondents do not feel they have enough time to conduct their role effectively, while more than half (51%) believe their work-life balance is unsustainable. On top of this, a fifth of respondents also stated that their workload was neither practical nor achievable.
It’s no surprise that the emphasis on student wellbeing has grown since the start of the pandemic, but worryingly, the Tes report revealed that just 39% of educators feel adequately equipped to manage students’ mental health concerns. The move to online teaching and learning has dramatically increased teachers’ responsibility to track and support student wellbeing, with 94% of teachers saying they care about pupils’ problems.
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) was identified as a potential solution to the majority of issues uncovered by the report, but fewer than half (44%) of respondents feel they receive the training needed to progress in their career, while 16% disagreed that their employer offered sufficient workplace training. However, despite the additional strain caused by the outbreak , 55% of respondents agreed that they had enough resources to do their job well.
Communication was another key issue, with just a third (35%) of school staff saying that communication between colleagues is clear, while 36% feel that communication is timely. Additionally, less than half (44%) said that school leaders communicate clearly, while just two-fifths (39%) claimed to understand how they fit into their institution’s future strategy.
On a more positive note, the report found that a majority of respondents believe they have a close, compassionate relationship with their peers, with 68% agreeing that their co-workers care about them. Seventy-three percent of staff also feel happy and comfortable when it comes to reaching out for help or assistance from colleagues. The majority (65%) of respondents agreed that they love working at their school, that they pay attention to their work (94%), and that they value their relationship with pupils, with 83% of respondents saying their school has good staff–pupil relationships.
Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support – a charity dedicated to supporting mental health and wellbeing across the education sector – commented: “This crisis has seen a workforce display an incredible capacity for adaptability, focus and resilience. But whilst teachers feel supported within their school communities, external pressures are proving too much. Having successfully reopened schools, just a few weeks into the Autumn term, many are at breaking point.
“School leaders in particular are struggling and exhausted as they try to keep staff and pupils safe with little support or clear guidance. Already pressured workloads and stretched budgets have become untenable. If we are to make a strong recovery from the pandemic, teachers must be able to do a great job in supporting our children. Wellbeing has ti be at the heart of our education system.”