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Teacher well-being and workload survey: Interim findings

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Teachers’ well-being and workload are important to the entire education sector, including Ofsted.

Concerns about the well-being of teachers are well founded:

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director, Education, addressed teachers’ workload in a blog in September 2017. Since then, staff have been telling inspectors how much leaders and managers take workload into account when developing policies and procedures, so as to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on them.

Teacher and pupils in a classroom.

In addition, our myth-busting campaign – for schools and for further education and skills (FES) providers – is clear about what we don’t expect to see, for example in terms of lesson planning or marking and feedback.

This research

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, commissioned research into teacher well-being at the beginning of the summer term 2018.

Our aim is to find out:

  • What are the current levels of teacher well-being in schools and FES providers?
  • What are the factors that influence the well-being of teachers?

We have just completed 25 research visits to schools and FES providers across the country. In addition, 680 school staff and 213 staff from FES providers responded to our questionnaire about occupational well-being in June and July this year.

The link to the teacher well-being questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 1,000 schools (600 primary schools, 300 secondary schools, 50 special schools and 50 pupil referral units) and 250 FES providers. The schools and providers were asked to send it to all their staff who contribute to teaching and/or learning (e.g. senior leaders, middle leaders, teachers, higher level teaching assistants, teaching assistants and learning assistants). Some of the readers of this blog may not have obtained the link because their school or provider was not in our sample for this study.

Sampling is routinely done in research studies because it is usually not practical to obtain and analyse data from the whole population (in this case: every school and college in the country). In this particular study, the aim of sampling was to end up with a representative balance of different education providers in view of education phase (e.g. primary, secondary) and type of education provider (e.g. special, pupil referral units, sixth form college or general further education and skills college).

Emerging findings from the questionnaires

  • 28% of respondents report low well-being at work, 26% medium, 35% high and 11% report very high well-being at work.
  • 31% of teachers report low well-being at work compared with 18% for senior leaders.
  • 25% of all respondents have been absent from work due to health problems caused or made worse by work, excluding accidents.
  • 76% of teachers report that their job impacts negatively on their mental health and 60% report that it impacts negatively on their physical health.
  • 62% of all respondents believe that teaching is not valued by society.
  • The top three factors that affect respondents’ well-being positively at work are children/pupils, colleagues and the support they receive from them.
  • In contrast, the most frequently mentioned factors that negatively influence occupational well-being are behaviour (both pupils’ challenging behaviour and inconsistent behaviour management by colleagues), workload and marking.

The word ‘lack’ came up a lot. When we dug deeper, we found that the negative influences on staff well-being cited by respondents were:

  • lack of support to manage behaviour
  • lack of time
  • lack of money/budget/funding
  • lack of resources
  • lack of communication
  • lack of a work/life balance.

Teacher helping a pupil as they sit in a kitchen area.

As far as the lack of work/life balance is concerned, 48% of the surveyed teachers and 70% of the senior leaders work in their free time every day.

We will post again once we have completed our analyses early next year.

Our questionnaire closes at midnight on 2 December 2018. If you have been sent a link to our well-being questionnaire and have not yet completed it, please do so. Your opinions really count.


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  1. Comment by Mike Davis posted on

    Now you know the scale of the problem, how do you propose to become part of the solution?

  2. Comment by EducationState posted on

    What are the factors that influence the well-being of teachers?

    The amount of teaching hours they now do. Less time in the classroom = more time to do their planning, create resources, and generally just think about how to teach better.

    PS. Newer teachers will likely not know that they are teaching the most class hours of any generation because they are more likely to not know any different. Asking them what is causing their well-being to flag is then unlikely to unearth the influence the amount of teaching hours is having.

  3. Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

    Hi, Inspections under the new inspection framework will have a sharper focus on the quality of education, rather than on data, and on workload for teachers, lecturers and leaders. The teacher well-being study will help us consider workload and staff well-being during inspections in an effective and meaningful way.

  4. Comment by T Gray posted on

    How much research has been carried out into positive mental health strategies and support available for staff? For those schools who have access to the best health care and mental health support does this have a positive impact on attendance and well-being and therefore begin to tackle the work-life balance in a positive way? How as employers do we ensure we meet our duty of care towards staff and encourage work-life balance? Are these issues addressed within the main research?

  5. Comment by michelenevard posted on

    Hi, our first question was about how senior leaders consider the welfare of staff. When we have analysed our initial results we will be blogging again. Our second blog will be followed by a report.

  6. Comment by SHosie posted on

    When will the full results of the Survey be published?

  7. Comment by External Relations posted on

    We don't have a publication date yet, but it's likely to be at some point during the summer term.

  8. Comment by j holland posted on

    Would it be possible to view the teacher wellbeing scale that was used for this study?

  9. Comment by External Relations posted on

    Hi, this will be published as part of the final report later this year.