Your Weekly Sector News 02/12/22

As we reflect on the current challenges facing the sector, we can consider how we might build our resilience and stay ready for the future. This week, we discuss the reasons that teachers and other education staff are considering leaving, whilst others face challenges in entering the profession.
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Record numbers of UK teachers plan to leave the profession

Latest figures from the annual survey by Education Support has found that record numbers of UK teachers and education staff have considered leaving the sector due to pressures on their mental health and wellbeing. Researchers surveyed more than 3000 staff from primary, secondary, early years, further education, and adult education settings. Over the past academic year, 55 percent actively sought to change or leave their current jobs.

Staff who experienced pressures on their health and wellbeing cited workload as the main factor, closely followed by poor work-life balance and feeling undervalued. Other key reasons given for wanting to leave the profession included unnecessary paperwork, lack of resources and unreasonable demands from managers.

The survey also shows that education staff continue to experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than those reported in the general population. Critically, 75 percent of all staff described themselves as stressed, rising from 72 percent in 2021. Of these, senior leaders were the most likely to report feeling stressed at 84 percent, followed by 72 percent of teachers and 68 percent of support staff.

Low levels of trust and support from their organisations were major influences on staff who considered leaving the profession. For example, 88 percent of respondents who felt distrusted by their line managers considered leaving, compared to 54 percent who felt trusted. Similarly, 82 percent of those who felt they had a negative team culture had also considered leaving, compared to 47 percent who had a positive team culture.

Authors of the report recommend ‘ambitious, fully-funded initiatives that address the systemic drivers of stress and poor mental health in the education sector, including funding, intensification of workload and the status and autonomy of the profession.’ Without decisive action, researchers warn that the recruitment and retention crisis will get worse, leaving an increasingly burnt-out workforce that is unable to deliver the quality of education that children and young people deserve.

Sinead Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support, reiterates calls for further investment in the workforce, saying that ‘whilst these data make difficult reading for everyone involved in trying to make the system the best it can be, the simple fact is that we are failing. Our children and young people deserve so much more from us.’

£21 million to boost numbers of Educational Psychologists

The government has extended the Educational Psychology Funded Training (EPFT) scheme, with a view to train 200 educational psychologists (EPs) per year. This scheme offers a free postgraduate doctorate degree for students who are willing to work with a local authority or alternative setting for at least two years after graduation.

£21 million in funding has been confirmed for the first two cohorts, who will begin their training in 2024 and 2025 respectively. A further £11.2 million in funding for the remaining third cohort is subject to spending review. The government expects this budget to ‘fund the full three-year tuition fees for trainee educational psychologists, as well as a first-year bursary payment for trainees, and associated course administration costs.’

This announcement comes as a study from the NHS reveals the rate of a probable mental disorder amongst young people aged 17 to 19 has more than doubled in the last five years, rising from 10 percent in 2017, to 25 percent in 2022. As the mental health crisis amongst children and young people intensifies, more EPs are needed to work within the education system and wider community to offer support to pupils, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Risk of teacher trainees dropping out amidst cost-of-living crisis

According to a survey carried out by the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), the majority of school-centred initial teacher training providers (SCITTs) are concerned that the cost-of-living crisis will force teacher trainees to drop out of courses.

All respondents reported that rising costs were having an impact on their trainees, citing the rise of energy, fuel and transport prices as their largest area of concern, followed by the detriment to students’ wellbeing. Of the 83 SCITT directors who participated in the survey, half said that they had already seen trainees drop out as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis.

Two thirds of providers also reported that the cost-of-living crisis had an impact on their own provision, including a decrease in funding available to schools and trainees. Treena Philpotts, director of Nottinghamshire Torch SCITT, explains that her organisation is doing everything they can to support students, but says that ‘we do have trainees struggling, particularly those that don’t receive any bursary payments, as they try to manage with full-time training plus additional part-time jobs.’ Others report that the financial crisis also limits the availability of training for students, as schools pull out of offering placements as a way to cut costs.

In the 2021/22 academic year, the number of primary teacher trainees exceeded government targets, whilst the number of secondary trainees fell short. Yet providers believe that there is a greater tendency amongst primary trainees to drop out of courses, placing further pressure on the teacher shortage problem.

Many providers also expressed concerns about potential applicants, who may not be able to afford to join future courses. Recent data shows that the Department for Education has failed to hit its teacher trainee targets this year. The number of entrants to primary initial teacher training courses for 2022/23 reached just 93 percent of the target, falling to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the target for secondary teacher trainees was missed by over 40 percent.

This week, we are reminded that the greatest asset of any school is its staff.

At One Education, we can help you to ensure that all your staff get the support and training they need to make the most out of their role.

Please explore our services or get in touch if you have any questions. We’d love to hear from you.

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