31 January 2020
Author: Ashley Birchall (UCL Institute of Education)
Teaching is one of the most stressful professions, consequentially three quarters of the education profession have faced difficulties with their physical and mental health and wellbeing; this is notably higher than the rest of the working population.
The impact of decreased teacher wellbeing is not confined to personal detriment; its effects are wide-reaching, impacting teaching quality, teacher-pupil relationships, pupil attainment and pupil wellbeing.
Despite this, teacher wellbeing continues to be overlooked by policy makers and remains a comparatively under-researched area within the UK.
Of the existing literature, the majority pursues a problem-focused stance, highlighting the multitude of factors that challenge teacher wellbeing. Little is known about the ways in which teacher wellbeing can be supported and improved.
This research aims to address this current gap within the literature by using a mixed methods design to investigate the factors that support and improve teacher wellbeing across mainstream primary and secondary school settings.
It proposes to further extend previous research by exploring the potential role for Educational Psychologists (EPs) in supporting teacher wellbeing.
Data was collected from both teachers (n=69) and EPs (n=19) using online questionnaires (Phase 1) and semi-structured interviews (Phase 2), and was analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.
A number of key themes and subthemes were identified.
Although the literature has emphasised a wide multitude of factors that can adversely affect teacher wellbeing, this research has presented a positive step forward. It has identified a range of ways in which teacher wellbeing can be supported, and suggests a number of distinct roles for EPs.
The onus is on individual schools, EPs, wider society, and the local and national government, to reflect on these findings and make meaningful changes, to improve the wellbeing of our teachers.
Implications for future research are also suggested.