Five ways schools can support teacher wellbeing

Classroom teachers we speak to tell us every day tell us about the pressures they face. The long hours. The high stress. The low pay. The challenging conditions and lack of government support. The heartbreak of helping children coming to school hungry. It’s little wonder that 40% of the teachers we surveyed in our global community said that they plan to leave the profession or are undecided about their future. Or that 71% said there is too much pressure placed on teachers. That is why it is vital that schools do everything they can to support teachers’ wellbeing.

A teacher explaining a technical drawing to his students

Here are five ways schools can support teachers’ wellbeing:

1) Workload management:

Schools need to do everything they can to ensure teachers’ workloads are manageable and realistic. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s easier said than done. Schools should set reasonable expectations for lesson planning, marking, and administrative tasks. Where possible, they should invest in technology that takes some of these time-consuming tasks off teachers’ hands so they can spend their time doing what they do best – teaching. Even where technology is not available to support teachers, providing adequate time for planning and collaboration is important. Crucially, schools need to work hard to reduce class sizes to prevent stress and burnout. This is not entirely in a school’s control, but by focusing on retention and recruitment schools can work to keep class sizes manageable.

2) Professional development opportunities:

Offering professional development opportunities that focus on teacher wellbeing can be highly beneficial. Workshops on topics such as work-life balance, self-care techniques, and stress reduction strategies can empower teachers to prioritise their own health and wellbeing. Additionally, providing opportunities for career advancement and skill development can contribute to job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.

3) Mental health resources and counselling:

Schools should provide access to mental health resources and counselling services for teachers. This could include workshops on stress management, mindfulness training, or access to confidential counselling sessions. Creating a culture where seeking help for mental health issues is normalised can significantly reduce stigma and encourage teachers to prioritise their wellbeing.

4) Supportive leadership and communication:

Schools should foster a supportive and transparent communication environment between teachers and school leadership. Administrators should be approachable and responsive to teachers’ concerns, providing opportunities for feedback and input. Clear and consistent communication about expectations, policies, and changes within the school can help reduce uncertainty and alleviate stress.

5) Promoting a positive school culture:

Schools should actively promote a positive and inclusive school culture that values and supports teachers. Recognising and celebrating teachers’ accomplishments, fostering a sense of community and teamwork among staff, and promoting a healthy work-life balance can contribute to a supportive and uplifting work environment. Additionally, creating opportunities for social connection and camaraderie among teachers, such as staff events or wellness initiatives, can help build resilience and foster a sense of belonging.

A female teacher teaching children in an African school

Measuring effectiveness and getting guidance

If schools want to measure the effectiveness of the initiatives they currently have in place, and anonymously survey their staff, or if they need guidance on areas of improvement to build into their action plans, then they can sign up to our Best School to Work programme. It’s designed to help schools improve teacher wellbeing, because nothing is more important to ensuring a thriving school that provides the very best education.