Teacher wellbeing continues to decline
Education Support has released its seventh annual Teacher Wellbeing Index, showing a significant decline in wellbeing amongst school staff. With rates of stress, insomnia and burnout continuing to rise, the overall wellbeing score has fallen to 43.44, dropping by 0.47 points since last year. This is well below the national average of 51.40.
Researchers surveyed 3,000 education staff across the UK. 78% reported feeling stress, rising to 95% amongst headteachers. Half of staff experienced difficulty sleeping, rising by 6% since 2022. Similarly, over a third struggled with burnout, increasing by 9% since last year. The research also shows that significant feelings of loneliness are experienced by professionals in the sector, with 15% reporting they feel lonely at work – twice as much as the national population.
For the first time, researchers also asked participants about their experience of inspections. 73% reported that the inspection system was not fit for purpose and 71% felt that it had a negative impact on their wellbeing. Sinéad Mc Brearty, Chief Executive of Education Support, comments that ‘working in schools and colleges is unsustainably demanding and not improved by the level of mistrust the profession has in the inspection process.’
This comes as a recent poll shows that less than 10% of teachers had read the Department for Education’s workload reduction toolkit and found it useful. Whilst giving evidence to the Education Committee’s inquiry into teacher recruitment and retention, Mc Brearty explained the toolkit could not adequately address the problem of accountability-driven workload and spillover from public services.
In the report, Education Support calls for education departments to develop a coherent strategy to improve the wellbeing of the workforce, whilst also investing in soft leadership skills and prioritising suicide prevention. Furthermore, they suggest reforms are needed to ‘overhaul the inspection system.’
Unions relaunch the Schools Cuts campaign
Together, the National Education Union (NEU), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), and NAHT the school leaders’ union, supported by Parentkind, have relaunched the Schools Cuts website to showcase the impact of government funding decisions on schools. They predict that 92% of mainstream schools in England, a total of 18,484, will be unable to cope with cost increases in 2024-25 without making cuts to provision.
The analysis assumes that teachers will receive another 6.5% pay rise, in line with this year’s pay award, with no extra funding to cover the costs. Campaigners say ‘it is reasonable to assume [pay] will increase by the same amount in 2024-25 given the scale of the teacher recruitment crisis.’ With this in mind, they predict that 99% of secondary schools and 91% of primaries will have to make cuts to survive.
The Schools Cuts campaign was rolled out during the 2017 general election, causing around 750,000 people to change their vote according to polling. It was launched again last autumn with a call for £2 billion extra funding, which was eventually awarded at the autumn statement. This year, unions are calling for another £1.7 billion to protect schools from having to make further cuts.
More support needed to identify young carers in schools
An inquiry launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (AAPG) for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers estimates that there are one million young carers in the UK. Of these, as many as 15,000 children, including 3,000 between the ages of five and nine, spend 50 hours or more a week looking after family members.
However, in this year’s school census, only 38,983 young carers were identified, with 79% of schools reporting that they had no young carers on roll whatsoever. In contrast, the 2021 national census identified 127,176 young carers. Researchers believe these numbers are significantly underestimated because many young carers and their families do not consider themselves nor their children as carers. Yet, when young people were asked more specifically about their caring responsibilities, researchers found that 10% of all pupils provide high or very high levels of care – equivalent to two pupils in every class.
Therefore, the APPG argues that the ‘identification of young carers needs to improve on a national scale to ensure they can receive support.’ Being a young carer was found to have a profound impact on school attainment and attendance, with young carers missing 27 school days each year. They are also 38% less likely to achieve a university degree than their peers – this increases to 86% for those caring for 35 hours or more per week. Yet, alarmingly, researchers found the average waiting time to receive support is three years.
To ensure young carers receive the support they need, the APPG calls for a National Carers Strategy, including new guidance and awareness-raising campaigns to support early identification and whole-setting approaches to help young carers in education. This would require schools and other settings to have a staff lead for young carers, as they currently do for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
One Education is proud to work with hundreds of schools and academy trusts across the country. Through mutual learning and collaboration, we believe we can drive change and shape the future of the profession.
If you would like support with Staff Wellbeing, School Finance, or Education Welfare & Safeguarding, please do not hesitate to get in touch. A member of our team will be happy to help, carefully listening to your requirements and recommending services to effectively meet your needs.