Teacher Wellbeing Index 2020 launches | Education Support
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Teacher Wellbeing Index 2020

Teacher Wellbeing Index 2020 launches

25th November 2020

As the annual Teacher Wellbeing Index is launched, Sinéad Mc Brearty calls on UK Government to value and support teachers.


Every single one of us has felt the effect of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic this year, but the impact on our teachers and education staff has been particularly acute.

Government guidance has been unclear and inconsistent. As we enter the toughest, darkest months of the year, education leaders have struggled to implement and maintain what can often seem like impossible measures.

Whilst displaying resilience and great adaptability, stress levels amongst the profession have risen, with a clear spike on the return to the classroom.  Add stress arising from confusing Government guidance to the very real concerns around personal safety, trauma and bereavement, and it’s no surprise that staff retention continues to be an issue.

Our special investigation Covid and the classroom detailed the feelings of undervalue and under appreciation among staff and school leaders. Sadly, we know, through our work with educators that before this crisis began, many staff in schools and colleges were feeling demoralised. During the crisis, most of the workforce has felt let down by the nature and tone of governmental interventions.  At a time when schools and colleges have stood tall within their communities, the workforce has perceived the actions of education departments as the source of added difficulty rather than support. This is particularly the case in the English system.

Our findings

This year’s Teacher Wellbeing Index provides an important insight into how our teachers are feeling in 2020.

We have seen worrying growth in symptoms of poor mental health in the profession: insomnia; tearfulness, mood swings and difficulties concentrating.

These are all symptoms that may lead to diagnosable longer-term mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. It also shows us that this pressure on our teachers and school leaders is unsustainable. By October, stress levels had rocketed to 89% amongst heads and others senior leaders.

Workload remains a major issue and a key driver to talented people leaving the profession.  51% of teachers and 59% of senior leaders told us they had considered leaving the profession during this year due to pressures on their health and wellbeing.  68% of education professionals considered leaving due to the volume of workload (rising to 76% for senior leaders).

Action to address the underlying issues is more urgent than it has ever been. Data has highlighted mental health and wellbeing issues across the sector for some years now.  Existing problems were unlikely to disappear during this crisis.  

Our recommendations

We are asking the Government for four things to help the education sector to recover from the pandemic:

  1. It has to start with investment. The government has committed extra funding for schools between now and 2022-2023. This funding was originally announced in August 2019 to address gaps arising through austerity.  The additional costs arising from Covid-19 and its impact will not be reimbursed through this funding.  The pressure generated by this financial strain is affecting school and college staff wellbeing, in particular among senior leaders.  
  2. We want to see mental health and wellbeing placed at the heart of education policy. We cannot ‘build back better’ with an exhausted and emotionally depleted education workforce. We need to support the wellbeing of staff so that they are well equipped to support this generation of children and young people to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
  3. The accountability system must be addressed. The nature of the work related to accountability has become a key driver of staff stress. We want to see this tackled through the evolution of an accountability approach that is developmental and supportive of educators, rather than one which instils personal fear and organisational bureaucracy.  
  4. And finally a specific focus on the health and wellbeing of senior leaders is essential to prevent so many leaving the profession. There is ample evidence that educators play a critical role in the wellbeing and attainment of children and young people. As we emerge from the pandemic it is imperative, for the UK’s future, that talent and expertise in the education sector is valued and retained.

Don’t forget, if you or a colleague need to talk to someone, please don’t forget that our free helpline is staffed by accredited counsellors and is open 24/7 to anyone working in the education sector.