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Pupil progress held back by teachers' poor mental health

Jonathan Glazzard

Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools

Leeds Beckett University

23 January 2018

Children’s education is suffering because of poor mental health experienced by many teachers, according to new research.

 

In a survey of 775 teachers, 77% said that poor teacher mental health is having a detrimental impact on pupils’ progress.

 

The survey, carried out by Leeds Beckett University and teaching advice website Teachwire.net, examined the relationship between teachers’ mental health and their ability to teach and maintain positive relationships with pupils.

 

An overwhelming number of respondents, 94%, said that their energy levels in the classroom drop during periods of poor mental health, and 90% said that their teaching is less creative during these times. Many of the mental health issues were caused by excessive workload and constant work scrutiny.

 

Professor Jonathan Glazzard, of Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “Teaching is a fantastic profession that transforms the lives of young people and of course we want people to become teachers.

 

“At the same time, we need to make them aware of the issues they will encounter. The results of this survey are quite clear, and it’s time the Government and school leaders took action over reducing workload.”

 

Last year, Leeds Beckett opened the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – the first centre of its kind in the country. It provides high-quality mental health training to all student teachers and has established a quality mark for schools.

 

“We are at the cutting edge in this area,” said Professor Glazzard. “On all our teacher training courses, we address issues about teacher workload and how school staff can manage their workload. It is an amazing and incredibly rewarding profession, but we are realistic about the pressures involved.”

 

The survey also revealed that a significant number of teachers, 81%, said poor mental health has a negative impact on the quality of their relationships with learners. The same percentage said it affected their behaviour management skills, with teachers citing “lower levels of tolerance”, “focusing on the negative”, and being “quick to anger”.

 

Of the 775 teachers surveyed, 54% reported poor mental health, with 52% of this number saying their illness had been identified by a GP.

 

Professor Glazzard added: “The Government is really focussed on children’s mental health, but we also need to look at the mental health of teachers.

 

“It is clear from this research that teachers feel that their own mental health can have a detrimental impact on the quality of their teaching, the progress of their learners and the quality of the relationships they establish with students and colleagues. Teachers feel that they are less effective in the classroom if their mental health is not good. Our on-going research in this area demonstrates that teacher workload contributes to poor teacher mental health.

 

“We also know from our on-going research in the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools that there is also a network of power and surveillance that operates within schools as well as a general lack of trust in teachers. This is about how teachers treat each other. Schools need to promote a culture of inclusion so that all staff and children experience a sense of belonging.”

 

Professor Glazzard said teachers were suffering from the effects of constant learning walks, lesson observations and work scrutiny.

 

“There are simply too many of them and that is having a detrimental effect on the mental health of teachers. Happy teachers teach well and enable children to achieve good outcomes.”

 

Joe Carter, Group Editor at Teachwire.net, said:

 

“We speak to an increasing number of schools that are putting in place practices to help safeguard the mental health of staff and pupils. What this survey shows is that investing time and resources into such activities is not only justified in terms of improving teacher wellbeing and staff retention, it’s an important part of any school improvement plan when it comes to students’ progress and attainment.”

 

Key findings:

  • ·         94% say mental health can have a detrimental impact on their physical energy in the classroom.
  • ·         73% believe mental health can have a negative impact on the quality of their explanations in lessons.
  • ·         72% think that their questioning skills in lessons can suffer due to poor mental health.
  • ·         89% say their mental health can have a detrimental impact on creativity in their teaching.
  • ·         85% thought their mental health could reduce the quality of their lesson planning.  
  • ·         54% of respondents report they currently have poor mental health.
  •             Fewer teachers, only 36%, thought poor mental health made a difference to their ability to assess learners’ achievement.

 

Comments recorded during the anonymous survey included:

 

“Teachers are human. If their mental health is affected, this will affect their day-to-day life, including relationships. So much of teaching is about relationships and patience so this has a huge impact.”

 

“A teacher who is struggling cannot maintain the pace of the profession. In the past, I have cried before work, at my breaks, and got into bed as soon as I’ve got home. Being unable to commit time to marking and planning will negatively affect your pupils. Plus, if you can’t maintain a certain rapport or relationship with the pupils, they will disengage from your lesson.”

 

“Feeling down and lethargic or unmotivated is not the teacher I want to be and does not help to engage the children in their learning.”

 

“Being under constant scrutiny because of perceived poor teaching interferes with moving pupils on as I would have previously done. Before I was targeted, my pupils achieved excellent rates of progress. Now my confidence has gone.”

 

“It affects all aspects of your performance which ultimately trickles through to pupil performance. A lesson isn't as well put together and executed as it could be and so not everyone makes the progress they should. Improving mental health takes time so it can't be fixed in a day - gaps in teacher performance over time will build up to gaps in pupil performance.”

 

“When I'm on form there is a buzz in the class and you can feel progress being made. If I'm unwell, depressed or stressed, then frankly I don't care as much and just want to get through the day.”

 

Please see a full set of the survey results below

 

1. I have read and understood the participant information sheet. After reading the information I am happy to participate in this survey
775 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Yes

773 / 100%

         

2

No

2 / 0%

2. Do you currently have poor mental health?
773 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Yes

430 / 56%

         

2

No

343 / 44%

3. How was this identified?
427 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

General Practitioner:

220 / 52%

         

2

Self-diagnosed:

187 / 44%

           

3

 

Other

20 / 5%

 

 

 

4. How many years have you been teaching?
774 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

0-5

215 / 28%

         

2

6-10

175 / 23%

       

3

11-15

142 / 18%

         

4

16-20

122 / 16%

         

5

20-30

104 / 13%

           

6

 

31-40

13 / 2%

         

7

Above 40 years

3 / 0%

5. What sector of education are you employed in:
771 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Primary (5-11)

493 / 64%

           

2

 

Secondary (11-16)

171 / 22%

         

3

 

Early Years Foundation Stage (0-5)

73 / 9%

           

4

 

Further Education (16+)

34 / 4%

 

 

 

6. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my physical energy in the classroom:
772 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Strongly agree

407 / 53%

         

2

Agree

320 / 41%

         

3

 

Neutral

31 / 4%

           

4

 

Disagree

13 / 2%

         

5

Strongly disagree

1 / 0%

7. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the quality of my relationships with my learners:
775 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

352 / 45%

         

2

Strongly agree

279 / 36%

         

3

 

Neutral

70 / 9%

           

4

 

Disagree

67 / 9%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

7 / 1%

 

 

 

8. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the quality of my explanations in lessons.
774 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

377 / 49%

           

2

 

Strongly agree

183 / 24%

         

3

 

Neutral

118 / 15%

           

4

 

Disagree

89 / 11%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

7 / 1%

9. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my questioning skills in lessons.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

374 / 49%

           

2

 

Strongly agree

175 / 23%

         

3

 

Neutral

116 / 15%

           

4

 

Disagree

99 / 13%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

7 / 1%

 

 

 

10. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on creativity in my teaching.
773 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Strongly agree

349 / 45%

         

2

Agree

344 / 45%

         

3

 

Disagree

42 / 5%

           

4

 

Neutral

30 / 4%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

8 / 1%

11. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the way I plan my lessons.
773 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

386 / 50%

         

2

Strongly agree

273 / 35%

         

3

 

Neutral

61 / 8%

           

4

 

Disagree

48 / 6%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

5 / 1%

 

 

 

 

12. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the way I assess my learners’ achievements:
773 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

279 / 36%

         

2

Neutral

200 / 26%

       

3

Disagree

144 / 19%

           

4

 

Strongly agree

137 / 18%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

13 / 2%

13. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my marking and pupil feedback:
769 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

348 / 45%

           

2

 

Strongly agree

183 / 24%

         

3

 

Neutral

116 / 15%

           

4

 

Disagree

114 / 15%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

8 / 1%

 

 

 

14. My relationships with colleagues are detrimentally affected by my mental health.
768 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

344 / 45%

         

2

Strongly agree

250 / 33%

         

3

 

Neutral

97 / 13%

           

4

 

Disagree

65 / 8%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

12 / 2%

15. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my behaviour management skills.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

375 / 49%

         

2

Strongly agree

247 / 32%

         

3

 

Neutral

72 / 9%

           

4

 

Disagree

65 / 8%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

12 / 2%

 

 

 

 

16. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my effectiveness in responding to the needs of my learners.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

381 / 49%

           

2

 

Strongly agree

154 / 20%

         

3

 

Neutral

126 / 16%

           

4

 

Disagree

99 / 13%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

11 / 1%

 

 

 

17. Poor teacher mental health impacts detrimentally on pupils’ progress.
766 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

352 / 46%

         

2

Strongly agree

235 / 31%

         

3

 

Neutral

118 / 15%

           

4

 

Disagree

52 / 7%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

9 / 1%

18. My subject knowledge is less secure during periods of poor teacher mental health.
770 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Disgree

214 / 28%

         

2

Agree

212 / 28%

       

3

Neutral

207 / 27%

           

4

 

Strongly agree

86 / 11%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

51 / 7%

19. My mental health can have a negative impact on pupils’ mental health.
767 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Agree

255 / 33%

         

2

Neutral

215 / 28%

       

3

Disagree

180 / 23%

           

4

 

Strongly agree

91 / 12%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

26 / 3%

 

 

 

20. My own mental health can have a negative impact on the way I support pupils’ mental health needs.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

         

1

Disagree

226 / 29%

         

2

Agree

217 / 28%

       

3

Neutral

169 / 22%

           

4

 

Strongly agree

95 / 12%

           

5

 

Strongly disagree

64 / 8%

 

Jonathan Glazzard

Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools

Leeds Beckett University

January 2018

 

Children’s education is suffering because of poor mental health experienced by many teachers, according to new research.

In a survey of 775 teachers, 77% said that poor teacher mental health is having a detrimental impact on pupils’ progress.

The survey, carried out by Leeds Beckett University and teaching advice website Teachwire.net, examined the relationship between teachers’ mental health and their ability to teach and maintain positive relationships with pupils.

An overwhelming number of respondents, 94%, said that their energy levels in the classroom drop during periods of poor mental health, and 90% said that their teaching is less creative during these times. Many of the mental health issues were caused by excessive workload and constant work scrutiny.

Professor Jonathan Glazzard, of Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “Teaching is a fantastic profession that transforms the lives of young people and of course we want people to become teachers.

“At the same time, we need to make them aware of the issues they will encounter. The results of this survey are quite clear, and it’s time the Government and school leaders took action over reducing workload.”

Last year, Leeds Beckett opened the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools – the first centre of its kind in the country. It provides high-quality mental health training to all student teachers and has established a quality mark for schools.

“We are at the cutting edge in this area,” said Professor Glazzard. “On all our teacher training courses, we address issues about teacher workload and how school staff can manage their workload. It is an amazing and incredibly rewarding profession, but we are realistic about the pressures involved.”

The survey also revealed that a significant number of teachers, 81%, said poor mental health has a negative impact on the quality of their relationships with learners. The same percentage said it affected their behaviour management skills, with teachers citing “lower levels of tolerance”, “focusing on the negative”, and being “quick to anger”.

Of the 775 teachers surveyed, 54% reported poor mental health, with 52% of this number saying their illness had been identified by a GP.

Professor Glazzard added: “The Government is really focussed on children’s mental health, but we also need to look at the mental health of teachers.

“It is clear from this research that teachers feel that their own mental health can have a detrimental impact on the quality of their teaching, the progress of their learners and the quality of the relationships they establish with students and colleagues. Teachers feel that they are less effective in the classroom if their mental health is not good. Our on-going research in this area demonstrates that teacher workload contributes to poor teacher mental health.

“We also know from our on-going research in the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools that there is also a network of power and surveillance that operates within schools as well as a general lack of trust in teachers. This is about how teachers treat each other. Schools need to promote a culture of inclusion so that all staff and children experience a sense of belonging.”

Professor Glazzard said teachers were suffering from the effects of constant learning walks, lesson observations and work scrutiny.

“There are simply too many of them and that is having a detrimental effect on the mental health of teachers. Happy teachers teach well and enable children to achieve good outcomes.”

Joe Carter, Group Editor at Teachwire.net, said:

“We speak to an increasing number of schools that are putting in place practices to help safeguard the mental health of staff and pupils. What this survey shows is that investing time and resources into such activities is not only justified in terms of improving teacher wellbeing and staff retention, it’s an important part of any school improvement plan when it comes to students’ progress and attainment.”

Key findings:

  • ·         94% say mental health can have a detrimental impact on their physical energy in the classroom.
  • ·         73% believe mental health can have a negative impact on the quality of their explanations in lessons.
  • ·         72% think that their questioning skills in lessons can suffer due to poor mental health.
  • ·         89% say their mental health can have a detrimental impact on creativity in their teaching.
  • ·         85% thought their mental health could reduce the quality of their lesson planning.  
  • ·         54% of respondents report they currently have poor mental health.
  •             Fewer teachers, only 36%, thought poor mental health made a difference to their ability to assess learners’ achievement.

Comments recorded during the anonymous survey included:

“Teachers are human. If their mental health is affected, this will affect their day-to-day life, including relationships. So much of teaching is about relationships and patience so this has a huge impact.”

“A teacher who is struggling cannot maintain the pace of the profession. In the past, I have cried before work, at my breaks, and got into bed as soon as I’ve got home. Being unable to commit time to marking and planning will negatively affect your pupils. Plus, if you can’t maintain a certain rapport or relationship with the pupils, they will disengage from your lesson.”

“Feeling down and lethargic or unmotivated is not the teacher I want to be and does not help to engage the children in their learning.”

“Being under constant scrutiny because of perceived poor teaching interferes with moving pupils on as I would have previously done. Before I was targeted, my pupils achieved excellent rates of progress. Now my confidence has gone.”

“It affects all aspects of your performance which ultimately trickles through to pupil performance. A lesson isn't as well put together and executed as it could be and so not everyone makes the progress they should. Improving mental health takes time so it can't be fixed in a day - gaps in teacher performance over time will build up to gaps in pupil performance.”

“When I'm on form there is a buzz in the class and you can feel progress being made. If I'm unwell, depressed or stressed, then frankly I don't care as much and just want to get through the day.”

Please see a full set of the survey results below

1. I have read and understood the participant information sheet. After reading the information I am happy to participate in this survey
775 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Yes

773 / 100%

2

No

2 / 0%

2. Do you currently have poor mental health?
773 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Yes

430 / 56%

2

No

343 / 44%

3. How was this identified?
427 out of 775 people answered this question

1

General Practitioner:

220 / 52%

2

Self-diagnosed:

187 / 44%

3

Other

20 / 5%

4. How many years have you been teaching?
774 out of 775 people answered this question

1

0-5

215 / 28%

2

6-10

175 / 23%

3

11-15

142 / 18%

4

16-20

122 / 16%

5

20-30

104 / 13%

6

31-40

13 / 2%

7

Above 40 years

3 / 0%

5. What sector of education are you employed in:
771 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Primary (5-11)

493 / 64%

2

Secondary (11-16)

171 / 22%

3

Early Years Foundation Stage (0-5)

73 / 9%

4

Further Education (16+)

34 / 4%

6. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my physical energy in the classroom:
772 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Strongly agree

407 / 53%

2

Agree

320 / 41%

3

Neutral

31 / 4%

4

Disagree

13 / 2%

5

Strongly disagree

1 / 0%

7. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the quality of my relationships with my learners:
775 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

352 / 45%

2

Strongly agree

279 / 36%

3

Neutral

70 / 9%

4

Disagree

67 / 9%

5

Strongly disagree

7 / 1%

8. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the quality of my explanations in lessons.
774 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

377 / 49%

2

Strongly agree

183 / 24%

3

Neutral

118 / 15%

4

Disagree

89 / 11%

5

Strongly disagree

7 / 1%

9. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my questioning skills in lessons.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

374 / 49%

2

Strongly agree

175 / 23%

3

Neutral

116 / 15%

4

Disagree

99 / 13%

5

Strongly disagree

7 / 1%

10. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on creativity in my teaching.
773 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Strongly agree

349 / 45%

2

Agree

344 / 45%

3

Disagree

42 / 5%

4

Neutral

30 / 4%

5

Strongly disagree

8 / 1%

11. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the way I plan my lessons.
773 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

386 / 50%

2

Strongly agree

273 / 35%

3

Neutral

61 / 8%

4

Disagree

48 / 6%

5

Strongly disagree

5 / 1%

12. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on the way I assess my learners’ achievements:
773 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

279 / 36%

2

Neutral

200 / 26%

3

Disagree

144 / 19%

4

Strongly agree

137 / 18%

5

Strongly disagree

13 / 2%

13. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my marking and pupil feedback:
769 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

348 / 45%

2

Strongly agree

183 / 24%

3

Neutral

116 / 15%

4

Disagree

114 / 15%

5

Strongly disagree

8 / 1%

14. My relationships with colleagues are detrimentally affected by my mental health.
768 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

344 / 45%

2

Strongly agree

250 / 33%

3

Neutral

97 / 13%

4

Disagree

65 / 8%

5

Strongly disagree

12 / 2%

15. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my behaviour management skills.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

375 / 49%

2

Strongly agree

247 / 32%

3

Neutral

72 / 9%

4

Disagree

65 / 8%

5

Strongly disagree

12 / 2%

16. My mental health can have a detrimental impact on my effectiveness in responding to the needs of my learners.
771 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

381 / 49%

2

Strongly agree

154 / 20%

3

Neutral

126 / 16%

4

Disagree

99 / 13%

5

Strongly disagree

11 / 1%

17. Poor teacher mental health impacts detrimentally on pupils’ progress.
766 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Agree

352 / 46%

2

Strongly agree

235 / 31%

3

Neutral

118 / 15%

4

Disagree

52 / 7%

5

Strongly disagree

9 / 1%

18. My subject knowledge is less secure during periods of poor teacher mental health.
770 out of 775 people answered this question

1

Disgree

214 / 28%

2

Agree

212 / 28%

3

Neutral

207 / 27%

4

Strongly agree

86 / 11%

5

Strongly disagree

51 / 7%

19. My mental health can have a negative impact on pupils’ mental health.
767 out of 775 people answered this question

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