Wellbeing in the Classroom begins with wellbeing in the staffroom!
So I guess we should start by thinking about what burnout is; According to WHO (2019), Burnout is defined by three ‘dimensions’ that teachers report to us informally all of the time!
We can think of it as:
Exhaustion → Negativity → Reduced Effectiveness
Put another way, burnout occurs when there is a chronic imbalance between the needs of the employee and the demands of the job (Maslach and Leiter, 2016) resulting from ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’ (WHO, 2019).
Behind the classroom doors, many educators face immense stress and challenges that can take a toll on their mental health and overall wellbeing. Last year's Teacher Wellbeing Index sheds light on some alarming statistics regarding teacher stress and its consequences. Focusing on just three key statistics from the report (we could easily pick more), we explore the potential knock-on effect on children's wellbeing when teachers are stressed and lack confidence in disclosing their struggles.
84% of senior leaders and 72% of school teachers are stressed!
The Teacher Wellbeing Index 2022 reveals that a staggering 75% of all staff members describe themselves as stressed which underscores prevalence in the teaching profession and highlights the urgent need for attention and support. Notably, senior leaders who are responsible for managing schools and setting the tone for the entire staff, experience even higher levels of stress, with 84% reporting feeling overwhelmed.
It doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude that when teachers and leaders are burdened by stress, it can have a significant impact on their ability to effectively engage and support those in their care.
59% of all staff are not confident in disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health issues to their employer:
Another alarming finding from the report is that 59% of teachers and staff members lack confidence in disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health issues to their employers.
This statistic reveals a concerning gap in the support system for educators. When teachers feel hesitant to seek help or share their challenges openly, it becomes difficult for schools and educational institutions to provide the necessary assistance and resources.
Consequently, this lack of confidence perpetuates a culture of silence around mental health and wellbeing, which can exacerbate stress levels and have detrimental effects on both teachers and their students.
55% of staff have actively sought to change or leave their current jobs:
Perhaps one of the most worrying statistics, is that 55% of staff members have actively sought to change or leave their current jobs. This high turnover rate is indicative of the severe impact of stress and dissatisfaction on the teaching workforce.
Recent data from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) suggests that the number of teacher vacancies posted by schools was 93% higher in the academic year up to February 2023 than at the same point in the year before the pandemic (Mclean, Worth and Faulkner-Ellis, 2023) - serving as an indicator of staff turnover increasing during the last few years.
Overwhelmed and unfulfilled teachers are going to find it difficult to provide the quality education and emotional support that students need. Educators' constant turnover can disrupt classroom continuity, erode trust between students and teachers, and impede children's overall wellbeing and academic progress.
This turnover can have an even more significant impact on families with multiple children passing through the same school. These families may have developed strong connections with specific teachers during their older children's time at the school. When those trusted and familiar teachers leave due to high turnover, it can create a sense of instability and unsettlement for both the students and their families. The loss of established relationships and the need to adapt to new teaching styles and personalities can be challenging, potentially impacting the overall experience and wellbeing of the children within these families.
Looking at this wider family perspective, it’s easy to see how staff turnover can affect not only individual students but also families who have built relationships with teachers over time, emphasising the importance of addressing the issue for the broader school community.
The statistics from the Teacher Wellbeing Index 2022 paint a concerning picture of the state of teacher stress and mental health in the education sector. It is crucial to recognise that the wellbeing of teachers directly influences the wellbeing of their students. When educators are stressed and lack the confidence to disclose their struggles, there is a significant risk of negative consequences for children's emotional, social, and academic development.
Educational institutions, policymakers, and society as a whole must prioritise and invest in
the mental health and wellbeing of teachers. Efforts should focus on fostering a supportive environment where teachers feel comfortable seeking help and openly discussing their challenges. Providing resources for stress management, implementing effective support systems, and destigmatizing mental health discussions are essential steps to address the issue.
Ultimately, by addressing teacher stress and creating a culture that values and supports educators, we can ensure that children receive the nurturing and high-quality education they deserve, promoting their overall wellbeing and future success.
How we can help - Motional Organisation Snapshot and Action Plan
At Motional, our Organisational Snapshot feature enables organisations to capture valuable insights from key stakeholders (Governor, SLT, Staff, Support Staff), across various domains encompassing Leadership & Management, Environment & Ethos, Policy & PracticeGathered data can then be used by the organisation to construct a 'Development Plan' and allocate responsibility, incorporating suggested actions, evidence sources, and reflective questions tailored to their team's needs.This action plan is designed to develop your Whole School approach, and includes approaches for mitigating some of the increased pressures and negative trends affecting staff and in turn the children in their care.