Teachers’ well-being and workload are important to the entire education sector, including Ofsted.
Concerns about the well-being of teachers are well founded:
- Teaching was one of three professions with the highest reports of stress and depression, in the 2017/2018 Labour Force Survey.
- A very large proportion (84%) of the 11,000 respondents to the NASUWT’s Big Survey 2017 identified workload as their number one concern.
- Similarly, 65% of the 5,218 respondents to the National Governance Association’s 2018 survey identified teacher workload as a problem in their schools.
- A study published by National Foundation for Educational Research on 30 October 2018 warns of ‘shortfalls in the number of trainee teachers and an increasing proportion of teachers leaving the profession’.
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.
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.
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.
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.