Hays UK jobs and employment blog


Teacher retention: Why improving staff morale in schools is vital


Recent studies have shown us that most teachers love their work and enjoy making a difference – so why are so many of them seeking greener pastures? Did you know that more than 20% of new teachers leave teaching within their first two years, and 33% leave within their first five years?

Around 82% of teachers say the most positive aspect of their job is being able to make a difference to lives, but around 55% also say their experiences so far would make them think twice before recommending the profession to a young person.

With many teachers blaming unmanageable workloads for their decision to switch careers, a huge focus has been placed on teacher stress in recent years. Many say pressure to spend all weekend grading papers or answering after-hours emails from parents has a negative impact on work-life balance and overall wellbeing. At the same time, Google Trends shows an upsurge in online searches for teacher mental health over the past five years.

Teachers love their jobs but struggle with wellbeing

Recent research into teachers’ wellbeing in the UK revealed how complex the issue is. On the one hand, most teachers enjoy their profession and feel positive about their school culture and relationships with colleagues and pupils. In fact, 77% of school teachers say they are satisfied with their job, and 71% said that they’d choose it all over again if given a second chance.

Despite this, however, teacher wellbeing at work is reported as being moderate to low. This was largely due to factors like a high workload, struggles with work-life balance, and a perceived lack of support from leaders.

Around 35% of teachers reported low levels of occupational wellbeing, while 26% reported moderate levels and 39% reported high levels.

Headteachers focus on school culture

School culture plays a major role in teachers’ wellness and satisfaction in their jobs. Teachers, teaching assistants and senior leaders all strongly value the following:

  • A strong sense of teamwork
  • A collaborative culture
  • A supportive, “no-blame” culture
  • Shared team values
  • An ethos that is positive and inclusive

A good school culture has a major positive impact on wellbeing and can also help to affect pupils’ behaviour positively. This strong link shows that there is a great opportunity for headteachers and senior leaders to improve their teacher recruitment and retention strategy by reassessing the culture at their schools. Through recognition, rewards, career investment and support, there are many ways to retain top teaching talent.

Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education, says: “To offer the very best care and support to students, it’s crucial that teachers and support staff feel happy, empowered and excited about the work they do every day. That is why we are delighted to offer Wellbeing First training free of charge to all schools across the UK.

This is the first package of its kind in the country, designed specifically to help education staff manage mental health, improve resilience and relieve stress. It includes ten online learning courses that cover everything from healthy living and mindset to prioritisation and relaxation.

With wellbeing having been added to the Ofsted 2019 framework, these courses are an excellent way to place wellbeing at the heart of the school and get inspection-ready. Perhaps most importantly, a strong focus on staff happiness can help headteachers improve retention, attract new talent and bring positivity into the classroom.”

Improving staff morale in schools

A positive school culture and a greater focus on healthy work-life balance will go a long way to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teachers, support staff attraction and boost retention. Here are a few more ways to help achieve this:

  • Be open to collaboration and discussion
  • Trust teachers to try out new, innovative strategies in their classrooms
  • Be proactive in following up on concerns
  • Back them up when a parent-teacher relationship becomes strained
  • Provide valuable feedback and recognition for a job well done

Discover a free way to help teaching staff to improve wellbeing and achieve a better work-life balance with the Hays Education Training’s Wellbeing First.


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