From education to employment

Education Support releases new report on the growing demands on teachers

classroom with students' hands up

Today, Wednesday 10th May, a new report from wellbeing charity Education Support has been published (Teaching: The New Reality).

This report discusses how the growing emotional and practical demands on teachers are affecting their mental health. Within this, it also highlights the impact of increasing responsibilities on school leaders and teachers.

Education Support’s survey of over 3,082 education staff found that in 2022:

  • 62% reported offering increased amounts of emotional support to pupils or students since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 62% reporting that pupil and student behaviour takes up more time.
  • 50% reported being more likely to be supporting staff and colleagues with their emotional wellbeing.
  • 48% reported increased pastoral duties to support the welfare of pupils.
  • 45% offer more support vulnerable pupils and their families.

This occurs in the wider context of a cost of living crisis and rising mental health challenges among children and young people. While teachers and education staff are rising the new challenges, a significant number report feeling underprepared to take on these new responsibilities.

Among those doing more of these specific roles:

The research is supported by a collection of first-hand accounts from a range of school staff who share their experiences and the challenges they face in the current educational landscape. Read the full report here.

Sector Response

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union, NAHT, said:

“There is no doubt that the role of teachers and school leaders has expanded significantly over recent years, at a time when the resources available to them have been dwindling.

“As a result of cuts to vital support services, school leaders and their staff increasingly end up acting as teachers, social workers and counsellors rolled into one, as they struggle to help families access stretched, under-funded provision like CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). Due to the lack of specialist support available, school staff are too often left feeling helpless, drained and overworked, which in turn only serves the fuel the recruitment and retention crisis in education.

“We cannot continue to expect school staff to continue to step in and fill the gaps created by the chronic underfunding of these vital services. Nor can we continue to ask them to sacrifice their own wellbeing in order to sustain the current system. As this report clearly shows, to do so would not only be unfair on them, it would be unfair on pupils too.”

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Teachers and school leaders will recognise many of the findings in this report, which point to a chronic shortage of resources versus a growing demand for pupil support.  The findings make plain that this is not a simple nine-to-five job and amounts to a great deal more than delivering education.

“The weight of responsibility placed on teachers has grown significantly in recent years. Local support services for young people have either been cut or are overwhelmed, with waiting lists for referrals extending for many months. The emotional support for pupils can weigh heavy on teachers, also, and workload pressures often puts their own mental health at risk.

“The Government is simply not taking seriously the gravity of the situation – and is unwilling to do what is necessary to properly support schools in their work with young people. The legacy of neglect can be seen in the recruitment and retention crisis, persistent underfunding of schools and colleges, and a workload crisis which a succession of education secretaries have failed to tackle.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“These findings chime with what we are hearing from school and college leaders. The capacity of local services to provide support to children has reduced over the past decade, leaving teachers and leaders to fill the void on top of all their other duties and with inadequate government funding.

“The role of school and college staff now extends far beyond the classroom. They have become a de facto and unofficial branch of social and healthcare services without the training, capacity or resources to discharge such responsibilities. It places them under intolerable workload and stress, and this situation is not nearly good enough for children and young people who need dedicated and specialist support.

“The government must review what it expects of schools and colleges, what it expects of other support services, and how it is going to ensure that the appropriate training, funding and personnel are in place. It must stop short-changing schools, colleges and children.”

Teach First CEO Russell Hobby said:

“This report is a stark reminder that many teachers are devoting an increasing amount of their time and energy to addressing non-academic issues that prevent their pupils from fully engaging in learning; schools serving disadvantaged young people are most affected.

“To tackle this, there needs to be a significant and sustained uplift to local government funding for children’s and young people’s services. This will allow teachers to fully focus on teaching, with wider support services provided by expert organisations.

“Teacher and pupil wellbeing go hand in hand. If we’re to give every child the chance to reach their full potential, then the wellbeing of both educators and pupils needs proper attention.”

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union said:

“Over the last 13 years schools and colleges have been defunded while services for children and families, especially the most vulnerable, have been decimated.

“This is yet more evidence highlighting how teachers and headteachers are trying to repair the damage that has been inflicted on the system for more than a decade.

“Teachers and headteachers want the very best for every child but they are struggling to hold together a system that is already broken.

“Schools are trying their best whilst vulnerable children are left waiting for months, if not years, to access vital mental health assessments and support.

“Services for children are so over-stretched and under resourced that real harm is being done to children’s wellbeing and welfare.

“Children and young people deserve an education system built on high investment, not a system which is predicated on educating children on the cheap and where teachers are expected to take on the role of social workers and counsellors in addition to their teaching responsibilities.”  

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