British teacher morale low

June 07, 2012, 2:28 PM GMT+0

NUT poll : 92% teachers love working with pupils but 59% say morale has declined in past 2 years

Our recent survey of British teachers shows low morale and frustration at 'continual criticism and interference' of the Government, as well as general of concern about many aspects that make teachers feel they are not doing their job as well as they could. Teachers said that greater consultation before policy changes were made could help, as could less external interference and internal pressure.

Our poll, commissioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), asked 852 teachers across the country about the highs and lows they face in schools and classrooms.

  • While the vast majority of teachers (92%) said that working with children and seeing the difference they could make in their lives and classroom teaching was the aspect of the job they enjoyed most
  • 59% say that their morale has declined over the past two years
  • And only 3% considered their morale to be very high

Obstacles to performing to best of ability

Teachers also chose what they consider to be the biggest obstacles to performing to the best of their ability.

  • 63% said constantly changing policy initiatives did not help
  • 62% listed unnecessary paperwork
  • 58% constant external criticism and undermining of teachers
  • 53% said unrealistic expectations on what can be achieved within the working week were also unhelpful

Improvements to the role

Teachers also noted certain changes that they felt could greatly improve their role, including:

  • Greater consultation with the profession before policy initiatives were implemented (63%)
  • Time for initiatives to be embedded and evaluated (63%)
  • Less internal and external pressure (62%)
  • Smaller class sizes (46%)
  • A change in the focus of Ofsted to be one of identifying areas for support (41%)

Leaving the teaching profession?

The main reasons given for what would influence decisions to leave the profession are excessive workload (71%) and the pay and pension changes (56%).

A lack of respect for the teaching profession was cited by 53% of respondents, whilst exactly half (50%) referred to constant changes and initiatives as a significant factor that would influence their decision to leave the profession.

When asked what they would say to Government the majority of teachers surveyed said they felt demoralised, deflated, devalued and overworked.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said that “while teaching is certainly one of the best possible professions. this survey illustrates how it is also now one of the hardest. Teachers should not be in a position where constant criticism and undermining of their job leaves them so demoralised.

“The rewards of classroom teaching are immense, but increasingly, teachers will balance this against the struggle of dealing with ever changing initiatives, an excessive workload, unfair inspection systems and worsening pay and pensions.

Recruiting teachers for the future will be an uphill struggle unless the Government starts to listen."

See the survey details and full results here