Teacher wellbeing ‘stuck in a rut’ as school budgets take their toll

A new report released today (14 March) 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. 

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. 
  • Only around a third (35 %) of school staff said that they feel valued at work.

News publication Tes said 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.

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 feel confident performing their role. This is an increase from 54 % last year. 

Over half 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 say that staff at their school have good relationships with students.

The survey also revealed some of the steps that schools are taking to tackle the staff wellbeing issues they face. 63% of respondents said their school has implemented wellbeing surveys to gain insight into staff wellbeing and half say their school has provided resources on wellbeing to support staff. 

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.  

“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. 

“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.” 

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.

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.”

Richard Tutt, director of secondary education at 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.  

“Research suggests that if we’re aiming to create an environment where students can excel, then the wellbeing of teachers must be prioritised.” 

Tes said that its 2023 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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