Mental health decline in schools could push more teachers to leave teaching

Eight out of ten teachers (82%) currently describe themselves as stressed from working, with over four in ten (46%) saying that pressures on their mental health and wellbeing have caused them to consider leaving the profession in this academic year, according to the latest polling for Education Support.

 

News 26 March 2021 / 4 min read

Responding to a YouGov/TeacherTrack survey carried out as school sites began to fully re-open, teachers said they feel their mental health and wellbeing and that of their pupils declined during the third UK lockdown. 81 per cent felt their students and pupils’ mental health and wellbeing had declined during this period and 67 per cent felt their own mental health had worsened. 

81%

felt their students and pupils’ mental health and wellbeing had declined during the third UK-wide lockdown

67%

felt their own mental health had worsened

A year on from the start of the first nationwide lockdown, teachers and school leaders, alongside many children, are still struggling. Whilst the profession has worked incredibly hard to support their pupils, the frequent last-minute changes to Covid-19 guidance and pressure to support increasingly vulnerable children and their families is taking its toll, impacting on all.

Asked the open question, ‘How do you feel your pupils/students react to you being stressed?’ one teacher responded by saying:

"Stressed teachers makes stressed students. The atmosphere in lessons can become negative and it impacts on teacher/ pupil relationships."
Teacher, Secondary School

Another said of her pupils:

"I avoid letting them see. Teachers need to be calm and confident so can’t show stress. No matter how uncertain the government’s direction we have to portray utter confidence to help our students." Deputy/Assistant Head Teacher, Secondary School

Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support said:

"Seven in ten (71%) respondents reported that their school has supported their pupils and students’ mental health and wellbeing well during the current lockdown. While this is heartening, stress among teachers remains too high. 

"This is concerning for the education workforce and concerning for pupils. Good levels of personal wellbeing and feeling secure are essential for education, as they put pupils in the right frame of mind to learn. The wellbeing of teachers has direct impact on the wellbeing of schoolchildren and their readiness to learn.

"Seven in ten (71%) respondents reported that their school has supported their pupils and students’ mental health and wellbeing well during the current lockdown. While this is heartening, stress among teachers remains too high.”
Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support

"Our special report ‘Covid in the Classroom’,2 based on YouGov research carried out earlier in the pandemic showed high levels of key drivers of poor workplace wellbeing – including feelings of undervalue and under appreciation. Just 15% of teachers said they felt valued by the UK government before this academic year had even begun.

"It is unrealistic to expect teachers to keep this up and just ‘soldier on’ without adequate support. We risk a rise in burnout, and a mass exodus from the profession when we need talented teachers and school leaders most. The mental health and wellbeing of our teachers and school leaders must be properly acknowledged and supported if we want to retain a high-performing, mentally healthy workforce."

Note to editors:

1. YouGov/TeacherTrack survey. The total sample size was 1,059 teaching professionals and fieldwork was undertaken between 25/02/2021 - 16/03/2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of teaching professionals by phase, region, age and gender
2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3034 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th June -16th July 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted by education phase to be representative of the education workforce.