Teachers suffer more stress than other workers, study finds

‘Urgent action’ is needed to address the pressures of the job, report’s co-author warns

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 25 February 2019 13:24 GMT
Teachers could be assisted into job shares with a matchmaking-style service in a move hoped to stem experienced staff deserting the profession, the education secretary has said.
Teachers could be assisted into job shares with a matchmaking-style service in a move hoped to stem experienced staff deserting the profession, the education secretary has said. (PA)

Teachers are more likely to suffer job-related stress than other professionals, a study has found.

One in five teachers feels tense about their job all or most of the time, compared with one in eight workers in similar professions, analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research revealed.

With rising pupil numbers, a shortfall in trainees and more teachers quitting earlier on in their careers, experts warned there is an urgent need to ensure there are enough teachers.

The report also revealed that the number of teachers trained overseas or returning to the profession has not increased despite government efforts to encourage a move into British schools.

Recruitment from countries in the European Economic Area are in particular decline, possibly as a result of Brexit, according to the analysis.

Working intensively over fewer weeks of the year leads to a poorer work-life balance and higher stress levels among teachers, the study found.

Two out of five teachers (41 per cent) are dissatisfied with their amount of leisure time, compared to 32 per cent of similar professionals.

Reducing teachers’ workload would reduce the numbers of teachers quitting the profession, the report suggested.

Jack Worth, co-author of the report, said: “England’s schools are facing significant challenges in recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers of teachers.

“Nurturing, supporting and valuing teachers is vital to making teaching an attractive and rewarding career choice.

“In order to do this, there is a clear need to improve the working conditions of teachers, with a focus on making the teaching career more manageable and sustainable.”

He warned: “The teacher supply challenge will continue to grow, particularly in secondary schools, unless urgent action is taken.”

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The reasons that so many leave the profession so quickly are not a mystery to us.

“When faced with impossible workloads, endless accountability, a testing culture run riot, and flat or underfunded pay deals year after year, it is all too common for good teachers to leave the profession.”

The report comes after the Department for Education (DfE) published its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy last month to reduce workload and encourage more teachers to stay.

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Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said: “Since I took this job a year ago I’ve made cutting down the amount of unnecessary and bureaucratic workload teachers face my top priority.

“That goal was at the heart of the first-ever integrated recruitment and retention strategy, launched last month, that also set out our plans to improve professional development, career progression and flexible working opportunities for teachers.

“All of that is underpinned by our work to remove teachers’ and leaders’ unnecessary workload by supporting Ofsted’s new inspection framework – to ensure teacher workload does not increase when a school’s performance is assessed.”

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