Covid-19 and the classroom: working in education during the coronavirus pandemic

Our research was carried out by YouGov with over 3000 education staff in schools and colleges during the 2020 summer term.

The main findings:  

  • There was a lack of clear, timely government guidance over reopening schools safely and Education staff’s mental health and wellbeing declined during the pandemic.

  • Coronavirus (Covid-19) tests were not widely available for all education staff.

  • Education staff were concerned about the effect of Covid-19 on staff, pupils, students and their families.

  • There was a lack of clear government direction over the priorities for teaching, learning and assessment in 2020-21.

  • Many teachers, especially senior leaders, feel unappreciated by the UK government and education departments, but there is a strong sense of appreciation from parents and colleagues. 

The pandemic has had a huge effect on the provision of education. We need to learn from what has happened, plan for the future, and grasp how the crisis has affected the mental health and wellbeing of education staff working across the sector.
Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO at Education Support

The recommendations from the report:

  • The government must recognise the difficulties of working in education during the pandemic and ensure that its future policy prioritises and supports the mental health and wellbeing of education staff.

  • The government must demonstrate that it respects, values and places trust in the education profession. Teachers and school leaders ought to be at the heart of policy decisions, which should be made through a collaborative process.

  • The government should publish clear, concise guidance for schools and colleges, which is relevant to different educational contexts.

  • The capacity for Coronavirus testing should be increased in order that regular and frequent testing for all education staff can take place as needed.

  • The government and regulators must work with the education profession to provide certainty over teaching, learning and assessment in 2020-21.

  • Regular, clear communication needs to be maintained between the government and schools and colleges, and senior leaders and their staff.

52%

of all teachers (50% of all education staff) felt their mental health and wellbeing had declined

61%

of all education staff felt greatly or somewhat appreciated by the parents/guardians of their pupils/students

15%

of all education staff felt appreciated by the UK government

57%

of all education staff who had experienced Coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms and had not taken a test would like to have a test