With the last two academic years having been severely disrupted by the ongoing pandemic, educators across the UK have been forced to transition to remote learning and are facing uncertainty around how they will be required to help students to catch up with their studies. As teachers and students today return to the classroom, new data and insights from teachers themselves reveal the true state of mental health amongst educators across the UK.
Digital learning platform and app, Quizlet, spoke to more than 1,200 teachers from state, private, grammar, academy, and higher education institutions across the UK, to better understand the impact of the past two lockdowns on their mental wellbeing, the level of support they feel that they have received, and their thoughts about the proposed catch up measures.
Key findings from the survey show that more than a third of teachers surveyed, (35%) have lost their passion for teaching when compared to before the pandemic. Furthermore, it is state school teachers that have come off worst, with 39% stating that they feel they have lost their spark and passion for a career in education, as opposed to private school teachers, with reduced 26% of those surveyed stating that they are no longer passionate about their career in teaching. When asked about occupational stress levels over the past year, nearly two thirds (62%) of teachers surveyed feel their occupational stress levels have increased as a result of the pandemic, with a further 85% of teachers stating that they have been feeling 'anxious' or 'overwhelmed', as a result of working remotely.
We all know that this past year for teachers, and those working in education, has been difficult with remote and blended learning methods being implemented in March 2020, as the first lockdown came into place. However, Quizlet's survey revealed that 78% of teachers feel that the government could be doing more to support mental health during the pandemic, with almost half (49%) stating that ‘not enough is being done’.
Rahim Hirji, UK Country Manager at Quizlet, comments:
“We have seen a lot of news this year expressing concern for how the pandemic is affecting students and their families, with little thought being given to teachers, many of whom have seen workloads increase and are working twice as hard to fulfil expectations. Combined with a lack of clarity around what the coming months will hold, and the added burden of having to grade GCSE and A-level students themselves, with less evidence than ever before, many teaching staff are feeling overworked, under-supported and more stressed than ever.
"It is hugely important to address the occupational stress and strain that many teachers currently find themselves working under and to equip them with the support and tools needed to empower them to confidently and passionately educate young people during the coming months. Sadly, it is clear that not enough is being done to support the mental wellbeing of our teachers during these difficult times, and the potential long-term impact of this is deeply concerning.”
Though there is still a lot of uncertainty and a lack of clarity when it comes to helping students catch up on lost time, part of Quizlet's survey asked teachers for their thoughts on proposed extended school days and a shortening of the Summer holidays. A rather conclusive 88% of teachers feel that changing the length of the summer holidays or extending the length of the teaching day to make up for lost learning during the pandemic would have a negative impact on the mental health of educators. Additionally, 75% of teachers feel these changes would have a negative impact on student mental health.
As we ease out of the lockdown, Quizlet's survey reveals that a lack of certainty, clarity and support across the UK has resulted in longer-term implications on the mental health of both teachers and students. While the proposal of catchup plans are being discussed, it is clear that a more stable and viable roadmap to recover, for all sectors, is still needed.