Rise in stress levels amongst education professionals

Education Support has released its seventh Teacher Wellbeing Index, which finds that the overall picture of wellbeing is poor in the sector, with senior leaders remaining at risk, and classroom teachers seeing a significant decline in overall wellbeing.

The survey of over 3,000 education staff found that 73% of staff thought inspections were not fit for purpose and 60% of staff thought inspections do not provide a comprehensive picture of strengths and weaknesses of schools or colleges. 71% of staff thought inspections negatively impact their mental health and wellbeing.

Stress levels have increased across the sector when compared to 2022. The highest increase has been seen among school teachers, and insomnia is also on the rise across the workforce. 78% of all education staff are stressed  - a 3% increase on 2022. 89% of all senior leaders are stressed, rising to 95% among headteachers. 78% of school teachers are stressed (6% increase on 2022 and the highest of all job roles); and 36% of school teachers reported experiencing burn-out (9% increase on 2022). What's more, 51% of staff experience insomnia or difficulty sleeping (6% increase on 2022).

This is a particularly concerning population of teachers and education staff who experience acute stress or burnout together with feelings of isolation at work (31% and 23% respectively). These combined factors point to elevated mental health risk (up to and including an elevated suicide risk) among this small but vulnerable group. At least 6% of senior leaders and 5% of all staff experience acute stress and/or burnout and loneliness together. The report calls for the Government to do more to protect this cohort of education staff. 

Education Support recommends that all education departments must develop a coherent strategy to improve the wellbeing of the education workforce, and suicide prevention must be prioritised. They say it’s time to overhaul the inspection system and that soft leadership skills must be invested in.

The charity also calls for a funding settlement that matches current levels of demand on schools and colleges and that the wider ecosystem of public services must also be properly funded. What's more, it says that a review of training frameworks to reflect the current reality of educators’ lives and embed mental health and wellbeing.

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