The results from the Teacher Wellbeing Index are in for 2022, and they raise genuine questions about staff health and retention.

The Teacher Wellbeing Index keeps a close eye on what our staff are going through – it captures their sentiment on the job, how they are in terms of mental health, and how supported they feel.

The charity behind the survey, Education Support, spoke to 3,082 staff between June and July this year.

Among many glaring statistics, two stood out.

The first was that 59% of staff have considered leaving the sector in the past academic year because of pressures on their mental health and wellbeing. When drilling down into the results by job role, 67% of senior leaders were considering leaving. Should staff act on this sentiment, it would have an immeasurable impact on the direction of schools, MATs, and colleges.

The second result was that 55% of staff said they had actively tried to change or leave their current jobs. This was pretty consistent across senior, teacher and support staff (the latter being the lowest at 52%).

The reasons staff wanted to leave included workload, work-life balance and not feeling valued.

Stress is going nowhere

The Index paints a picture of large numbers of staff in urgent need of support, with signs of depression and anxiety greater than those reported by the general population. It says 75% of staff are stressed – up 3% on 2021. This stress level has stayed above 60% for the last six years.

This is compounded by 59% of staff not feeling confident about taking their issues disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health problems to their employer.

But some problems were external – the charity feels that 3% “real-terms cuts in school budgets” have begun to bite. That is demonstrated, they say, by lack of resources becoming another one of the top reasons staff consider leaving.

A call for national intervention

The charity believes fully funded initiatives addressing the systemic drivers of stress and poor mental health in the education sector would make a “vital” difference. It adds that the Department for Education needs to implement a policy test that has been outlined in the Wellbeing Charter.

Education Support also hopes that wellbeing requirements in all training frameworks are delivered consistently and effectively across all training providers. The charity warns that essential development structures, including the Early Careers Framework and National Professional Qualifications, make references to wellbeing that are easily overlooked.

How you can make a difference

But how can you help staff in this situation? How can you ensure fewer people want to leave?

There are, of course, some helpful resources. You can, for example, make staff aware of the Samaritans 116 123 helpline – more details about this and accessing their email assistance can be found here.  Meanwhile, Education Support has a wealth of materials on everything from supporting teams to developing school culture and measuring success. Business in the Community (BITC) also has some universal approaches that you can begin to adapt to your organisation.

There are also some great resources from across our IRIS family, including:

Ultimately, a whole-school, whole-person approach is often integral to solving the problem of stress and poor mental health at schools. By putting the right system in place, you can stop, intervene and help in the recovery of staff going through a difficult time. There are different ways of implementing this, and I point you to BITC’s Health and Wellbeing at Work structure: this encourages organisational commitment to wellbeing, a good understanding of needs (including policies and legal), and the development of a strong positive culture which develops staff and supports them.

A bespoke approach to a complex issue

But it would be misleading to say any of this is easy. No two schools are the same. Every staff member, child and catchment area is different; the combination of challenges is unique to you and your team.

The key is to structure solutions around issues specific to your school, MAT, or college. This is the only way to efficiently focus on using your teams’ strengths while seeking out weaknesses and removing them.

That’s why we work with HR teams to get to the heart of the best strategies, systems, and processes to make meaningful and lasting changes.

We can provide:

  • A full HR Audit – an initial desktop audit of the school or trust’s current position in relation to HR to help you tailor your strategy
  • Advice and guidance on changes to employment legislation
  • Advice and support on policy and procedures, including terms and conditions of employment
  • Casework – provide advice and support on all employee-related matters (disciplinary, capability, conduct, absence management, grievance, family-friendly such as maternity etc.)
  • Advice and support on safeguarding issues
  • Policy and procedure support and advice – ensuring legal compliance
  • Telephone and email support/advice
  • Advice and support on staff recruitment
  • Support with TUPE/Restructure/Onsite and or virtual meetings (additional charges may apply)

Contact us today and learn more about how we can help you.