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Wellbeing of most teachers generally low or moderate
EB News: 23/07/2019 - 09:53
Ofsted has found that managing poor behaviour in the classroom is one of the main causes of low morale.
Ofsted carried out extensive research among staff in schools and further education and skills (FES) providers in order to better understand the issues that lead to poor occupational wellbeing, and make recommendations to address them.
The report finds that teachers overwhelmingly love their profession and enjoy teaching and building relationships with pupils. However, the overall wellbeing of most teachers is low. Positive factors are outweighed by high workloads, poor work–life balance, a perceived lack of resources and too little support from leaders, especially for managing bad behaviour. All these negative feelings can lead to higher levels of sickness absence and teachers leaving the profession entirely.
In both schools and FES providers, Ofsted found that relationships with parents can add greatly to stress at work. When parents are supportive it helps build positive relationships and allows schools to have a beneficial impact on the community. However, the report finds that parents are often a source of anxiety and increased workload. This is due to a variety of reasons, including parents’ unrealistic expectations for their child, the frequency of emails expecting an instant reply and parents raising concerns or complaints inappropriately.
Open access to staff email addresses puts pressure on teachers to provide an immediate response. Some participants in Ofsted’s research talked about a ‘culture of competition’, in which parents share schools’ response rates among themselves. As a result, the instant response email culture adds to teachers’ workload and interferes with their work–life balance.
Teachers also spoke about a lack of parental respect, ranging from a lack of trust in staff, to inappropriate and aggressive behaviour. An imbalance of power was said to lie in parents’ favour, as social media gives parents the power to publicly express negative comments about a school or teacher.
The report recommends several actions senior leaders can take to improve relationships with parents and benefit staff well-being in the next school year, such as informing parents about the most appropriate ways of raising concerns, and providing support to staff when a complaint has been raised. Schools could also consider alternative ways of communicating with parents, in order to alleviate workload.