Teachers Leaving Schools
By Anna, 1st July 2022
Teachers are significant role models to children in education. Worryingly, it is also one of 'those' professions that has a higher than average rate of stress and inevitable burnout. But why? When teachers get so much holiday away from the classroom and only work part time hours, 9am-3pm, don't they?
Teacher wellbeing is not a new concern. In fact, in 2012, I chose to leave the classroom after my maternity leave and doubt I would ever return due to these very issues. I have a huge amount of respect for teachers who often work far more than their contractual hours. They usually take work home, have a ridiculous amount of paperwork and data collection, are often on edge expecting observations of their teaching, marking and planning, often suffer in a toxic work environment influenced by politics and a fear of OFSTED, and many are simply exhausted struggling with lack of resources and support for a higher level of children with additional needs and behavioural problems.
But even 10 years ago, the school working environment wasn't as bad as it seems now.
In April, the National Education Union published a report on a study into the State of Education and found:
- 44% of England’s state-school teachers plan to quit by 2027, according to the latest NEU poll. Half of those (22%) intend to leave within two years.
- Schools are struggling to fill vacant posts, leading to a doubling up of roles. 73% of teachers say this has worsened since the start of the pandemic.
- Over half (52%) of teachers say their workload is either ‘unmanageable’ or ‘unmanageable most of the time’, up from 35% in 2021.
Are we about to see a mass exodus of teachers?
Recently, I sat at a conference of professionals and heard first hand some of the new issues that our teachers are facing. They report that, since the pandemic, the quality of relationships with parents/guardians has declined and many teachers are facing an increase in parents being aggressive and being threatened with legal action on a daily basis. Teachers said that they are having more issues with parents trying to bully them through direct emails and students taking photos or videos of them to create derogoratory posts on social media. It really is not a surprise that this treatment layered on top of the pressure of 'The Great Covid Catch Up' is adding to job dissatisfaction within the profession.
Don't get me wrong - being a teacher really can be one of the most rewarding roles in the world. I absolutely love what I do as a private tutor and have found my ultimate passion and purpose working in education. I have seen the crisis in wellbeing in education from the perspective of a parent, a teacher, a leader and an inspector. However, the beauty of being your own boss is having that control over who you work with, how and when. The politics and paperwork have very little impact on me as a tutor and I can focus on the quality of my provision and respond to individual needs instantly with my years of experience and qualifications to inform my decisions. Teachers in a classroom should benefit from the same level of autonomy to do what they are experts in - teaching children.
At Nurture Learning, our ethos is that good mental health starts with the adult in the room. This means that caring for our teachers, and supporting them to practice self-care, is key to improving the wellbeing of our children. Children have also been significantly impacted by the pandemic and they deserve positive role models to embed strategies to promote mental health each and every term, day and lesson that they attend. Wellbeing in education cannot be fixed by a one off INSET day training for teachers, a morning exercise or a lesson of yoga. As great as they are, children need to be shown how to apply self care strategies and look after their mental health as part of everything that they do. This is the way we build habits that will last a lifetime and enable children to achieve their potential.
One way to promote healing in education is simple, but by far the most effective - be kind. If nothing else, please be kind to your child's teacher if you are a parent/guardian. Tell them if you think they are doing something well; all too often teachers only hear from parents when they are unhappy. Raise wellbeing as an issue with your schools governors- can they help fund training that promotes class wellbeing, like the Nurture Learning Educator Training Programme? Talk to your child's teacher. Help to boost those working relationships that have been impacted by virtual parents' evenings. Reconnect and build those bridges.
Above all, we must look after our teachers. The alternative - which is not too far from our future reality if this crisis isn't addressed - is classes closing once more as there will simply be no teachers left to teach.