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September 24, 2020 Thursday 04:34:01 PM IST

Teachers’ wellbeing largely unaffected by lockdown

Teacher Insights

Teachers’ wellbeing stayed largely the same during lockdown, with the proportion of teachers reporting high levels of work anxiety slightly falling, according to new UCL-led research. The research looked at data collected from around 8,000 teachers in England between September 2019 and September 2020. The study, which is the first to measure how the COVID-19 lockdown affected the wellbeing of teachers, found that slightly fewer teachers were highly anxious about work after lockdown was imposed, with about one in 20 reporting very high anxiety compared to one in eight before lockdown.

The same was not true for headteachers, however, many of whom were highly anxious about work while the country was in lockdown. There were particular spikes in anxiety among headteachers in the week before school lockdown, when the proportion of headteachers reporting very high anxiety doubled to 38%, and in June when school re-openings were first announced.

Although the wellbeing of teachers was, on average, unchanged during lockdown, different aspects of their mental health may have been affected in different ways. For instance, in April 2020 (during the height of lockdown) teachers were more likely to say they had energy to spare, were feeling relaxed and were feeling loved than when the same questions were asked earlier in the academic year (October 2019). However, teachers were less likely to say that they felt useful, were optimistic about the future or were interested in new things in April 2020 than in October 2019.

The study also demonstrates the inequality in teaching experiences of private and state school children while schools were shut. Just six per cent of state school teachers delivered live teaching with student interaction in May 2020, compared to 72 per cent of private school teachers, according to the survey data.

The study also found work anxiety during lockdown was higher for women than for men, and for parents of both gender when compared to teachers without children. One in five headteachers said the experience of lockdown had made them more likely to seek to leave the profession, compared to one in ten middle leaders and teachers.

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