On November 26th, Education Support released its annual 2020 Teacher Wellbeing Index. Education Support was founded in 2015, but has roots that go back 140 years. It is a respected and authoritative organization focused on the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and other education professionals in the UK.
The report looks at stress and related issues related to COVID-19. It shows, however, that “many of the teacher wellbeing issues highlighted in this report existed long before the pandemic broke out. Our previous reports have shown a consistent problem with the wellbeing of teachers and educators. This year has shown us that we are working at the limit of what is possible with the resources available. "
2020 survey highlights
The first survey was conducted in June and July when schools were closed. However, a second survey was conducted in October after the schools reopened. It showed that:
- 62% of teachers and 77% of managers reported being stressed or very stressed out in July, when most educational institutions were closed to all but the most vulnerable
- 84% of teachers and 89% of managers said they were stressed or very stressed when schools reopened in October.
The survey also showed a sharp increase in poor mental health symptoms:
- "52% said they had insomnia in the past year (up from 37% in the past 2 years).
- 41% lacrimation (up from 26% in the last 2 years).
- 40% had difficulty concentrating (compared to 23% in the last 2 years) ”.
Another problem, also accelerated by the pandemic, was employee retention:
- "51% of teachers and 59% of executives said they considered leaving the profession this year due to pressures on their health and wellbeing.
- 68% of education professionals said the reason was the volume of work (increased to 76% for managers). "
The message from the survey is clear; Mental health has deteriorated compared to the past. It's much more serious because of the pandemic, but it's part of a long trend. It has also become more difficult for employees than in the past to talk about it at school. Their lack of self-confidence and discomfort is despite an improvement in the availability of mental health services.
Wellbeing of Education Professionals as an International Issue
Education International member organizations have reported an increase in work-related stress during the pandemic, which was also caused by a combination of increased workloads, adapting to new teaching methods and health concerns. As this survey shows, they were also often deeply concerned about the fact that their students were not connected enough to their education, lost motivation and could not have direct contact with educators or other students. Many of these concerns persist where schools are open.
The UK poll found teachers were concerned about their status. Although it showed they felt valued by a large majority of colleagues, senior management and parents, few felt recognized or valued by the UK government, education departments or the media. This concern isn't limited to the UK, however.
One of the most troubling results of Education International's survey of affiliates during the pandemic, confirmed by country reports, was how few were really involved or even consulted about actions that need to be taken to ensure quality and safe education during the crisis to ensure.
Education International Secretary General David Edwards responded to the report by saying, “Although teachers in the UK have long been under high stress, many of them linked to government-imposed educational reforms, it does not mean they are alone their concerns about wellbeing or that the results of this survey are irrelevant to the entire educational community. "
“Based on the experience of our member organizations, Education International has focused on wellbeing for many years. We thought governments were starting to share our concerns, but many apparently aren't. The OECD, for example, had to drop its proposal for a study on the well-being of teachers because no government would fund it. "
“Education International will continue to urge governments to put teacher wellbeing high on the agenda. You need to understand that confident, reputable education professionals are fundamental to successful student learning. "