Recent studies have shown most teachers love their work and enjoy making a difference however according to research collated by Global Recruitment Specialists HAYS, a whopping 70% of teaching professionals have admitted to feeling drained after work. Another 62% have said they often feel stressed at work. Furthermore, schools and universities seem to be struggling with retention, with 20% of new teachers leave teaching within their first two years, and 33% leave within their first five years.
Recent research into teachers’ wellbeing in the UK revealed how complex the issue is. On the one hand, most teachers enjoy their profession and feel positive about their school culture and relationships with colleagues and pupils. In fact, 77% of schoolteachers say they are satisfied with their job, and 71% said that they’d choose it all over again if they were given a second chance.
Despite this, however, teacher wellbeing at work is reported as being moderate to low. This was largely due to factors such as a high workload, struggles with work-life balance, and a perceived lack of support from leaders.
A YouGov study show around 82% of teachers say the most positive aspect of their job is making a difference to lives, but around 55% also say their experiences so far would make them think twice before recommending the profession to a younger person.
With many blaming an unmanageable workload for their decision to switch careers, a huge focus has been placed on teacher stress in recent years. Many say pressure to spend all weekend grading papers or answer after-hours emails from parents has a negative impact on work-life balance and overall wellbeing.
Surprisingly research shows more than 20% of new teachers leave teaching within their first two years, with another 33% leaving within their first five years.
Around 35% of teachers reported low levels of occupational wellbeing, while 26% reported moderate levels and 39% reported high levels. Those who are in senior leadership positions have been shown to fare much better in terms of wellness, with 61% reporting high levels of wellbeing at work.
A good school culture has a major positive impact on wellbeing and can also help to affect pupils’ behaviour positively. This strong link shows that there is a great opportunity for headteachers and senior leaders to improve their teacher recruitment and retention strategy by reassessing the culture at their schools. Through recognition, rewards, career investment and support, there are many ways to retain top teaching talent:
Supporting Teacher Wellbeing
There is also an opportunity in the school environment for line managers to offer better support to teachers, especially when it comes to matters of physical and mental wellness. While 57% of teachers feel that line managers support their professional development, only 36% say that their line managers focus on supporting their wellbeing.
With Google Trends showing an upsurge in online searches for teacher mental health over the past five years, HAYS Education have designed new and free ‘Wellbeing First’ training module. Designed to encourage headteachers to provide support, help retain teacher talent and improve wellbeing in schools across the UK, the module covers aspects such as ‘Life Balance’, ‘Mindset’ and ‘Healthy Living’.
Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education, says: “To offer the very best care and support to students, it’s crucial that teachers and support staff feel happy, empowered and excited about the work they do every day. That is why we are delighted to offer Wellbeing First training free of charge to all schools across the UK.
“This is the first package of its kind in the country, designed specifically to help education staff manage mental health, improve resilience and relieve stress. It includes ten online learning courses that cover everything from healthy living and mindset to prioritisation and relaxation.”
Improving Staff Morale in Schools
A positive school culture and a greater focus on healthy work-life balance will go a long way to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and boost retention. Here are a few more ways to help achieve this:
- Be open to collaboration and discussion.
- Trust teachers to try out new, innovative strategies in their classrooms.
- Be proactive in following up on concerns.
- Back them up when a parent-teacher relationship becomes strained.
- Provide valuable feedback and recognition for a job well done.
Matthias continues, “With wellbeing having been added to the Ofsted 2019 framework, these courses are an excellent way to place wellbeing at the heart of the school and get inspection-ready. Perhaps most importantly, a strong focus on staff happiness can help headteachers improve retention, attract new talent and bring positivity into the classroom.”