There is a growing view that teachers in England are more stressed than other teachers worldwide. This view is backed up by some recent research and appears to be due to several factors.
Indeed, teachers who leave cite work-life balance and pressure as critical factors in their decision to leave the profession.
Let’s look at what the research has found to be the crucial issues that negatively affect our teachers and cause them stress.
What causes stress in our teachers?
The Nuffield Foundation published the results of their project looking at teachers’ health in England in 2021.
One of the most significant findings was a correlation between high-stress levels and accountability. It found that 68% of teachers in England felt accountability related stress compared to only 45% of teachers in other countries.
The results suggest that the model in England, where accountability is a priority, negatively affects teachers’ mental health.
The focus on student achievement puts pressure on teachers regardless of whether they teach in primary or secondary schools.
How does accountability affect teaching in England?
It is a concern that accountability impacts our teachers’ well-being and mental health. It makes it harder to retain teachers in the profession and tougher to attract new recruits.
During the pandemic, there was a spike in teacher recruitment levels partly explained by the reduced opportunities and attractive bursaries in some subjects. These targets have since returned to below average.
Recruitment issues mean a shortage of teachers, which has been emphasised with supply issues during COVID outbreaks in schools. Teacher workforce data shows that the number of teachers aged over 50 is decreasing, meaning that valuable experience is being lost.
What can be done to reduce teacher stress?
The profession could look at different ways to encourage people into teaching. Offering financial incentives is not the answer since most teachers do not cite poor pay as a factor in their leaving.
Education leaders could utilise the research results to overhaul the accountability structures in England and find more creative ways to ensure that standards are improved in schools without increasing pressure on already overworked teachers.
The profession would welcome further research to consider the long term impact of stress and look at alternative ways of managing results while taking care of teachers’ mental health.
For more information on teacher wellbeing support please visit Education Support.
Are you a teacher suffering from stress?
If you find your current role stressful and your well-being is suffering, why not consider looking for something new? At Strategy Education, we have links with many schools in your area and nationwide.
There are plenty of alternative teaching positions that may provide you with a more suitable environment. By talking with an education recruitment specialist, you will be able to identify your strengths and target roles that will allow you to have a fresh start.
You may want to consider a work-life balance change by going to a part-time role, supply, or simply pursuing an element of teaching that interests you. If you are an early career teacher, we can help you find a supportive school and do all the hard work to take the stress out of job hunting.