It’s no secret that teachers in the UK are overworked and stressed in their jobs, but a survey conducted by the NASUWT this week highlighted just how extreme this was with findings suggesting that stress at work is driving teachers to caffeine, alcohol and prescription drugs. It also drew attention to the impact stress at work was having on their personal lives, with a number revealing that relationships have broken down as a result of work pressures.
This week it was revealed that students in the UK are among the unhappiest in the world in accordance to PISA wellbeing tables. Findings showed that 1 in 6 UK pupils are unhappy and that bullying and anxiety surrounding exams are far more prevalent than elsewhere. 14.2% of students said they were bullied frequently in the UK, whilst the PISA average is just 8.9% and 72% of UK pupils were anxious about testing, compared to an OECD average of 55%. It also found that students in the UK are spending far more time online during weekdays outside of school.
Based on the findings from both respective reports, it paints a bleak picture for schools in the UK. We’ve long been aware of the unhappiness of our teachers, but this is the first wellness report into the happiness of students, and it begs the question if there is any correlation between the two.
Based on the NASUWT findings we know that teachers are stressed - they are unable to leave their worries or work at school, these are taken home with them, they’re unable to relax and this is impacting both their physical and mental health, which will be reflected in their work meaning that they’ll be unable to put their all into teaching, despite their best efforts.
If our teachers are constantly worn down and stressed out, this will of course be detected by the students. Constant worries about Ofsted, exam results and excruciating hours are bound to take their toll and make it difficult for them to disguise their anxieties. Of course, there is no proven correlation between the two reports but it can’t be an unfortunate coincidence that both our teachers and students are stressed about work and unhappy within school.
We can only hope that these new sets of findings that provide quantitative data in relation to both student and teacher happiness is enough cause for concern to make people pay attention to the same issues that have been longstanding within education. Only then can we collectively start addressing them and work at improving the overall happiness of both teachers and students which will, in turn, help us see better results school-wide.