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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Acknowledgements ...................................................................... 5
2. About Teacher Support Network Reseach Services ................................. 5
3. Executive Summary ...................................................................... 6
4. Introduction..............................................................................13
5. Strategy and purpose of the Research ...............................................15
6. Methodology .............................................................................16
6.1 The Documentary Analysis ........................................................16
6.2 Interviews with Stakeholders and Experts ......................................17
7. The nature of teacher wellbeing .....................................................19
8. Teacher wellbeing research ...........................................................23
8.1 Demand ..............................................................................23
8.1.1 Summary .......................................................................23
8.1.2 Workload and pupil behaviour ..............................................24
8.1.3 Parental behaviour ...........................................................25
8.1.4 Emotional demand and emotional labour .................................26
8.2 Control ...............................................................................28
8.2.1 Summary .......................................................................28
8.2.2 Levels of Job Control in Teaching ..........................................28
8.2.3 Job Control and work stress or job satisfaction ..........................28
8.2.4 Job control and emotional exhaustion ....................................29
8.2.5 Job control and self-efficacy ...............................................29
8.3 Support ..............................................................................30
8.3.1 Summary .......................................................................30
8.3.2 Importance of Support .......................................................31
8.3.3 Relationships and Isolation ..................................................32
8.3.4 Leadership and Management................................................32
8.3.5 Support, Reward and Respect ..............................................34
8.4 Change ...............................................................................36
8.4.1 Summary .......................................................................36
8.4.2 Organisational Change and Teachers ......................................36
8.5 Role...................................................................................37
8.5.1 Summary .......................................................................37
8.5.2 Evidence on Role Ambiguity.................................................37
8.6 Demographic variables ............................................................37
8.6.1 Gender .........................................................................37
8.6.1.1 Summary..................................................................37
8.6.1.2 Evidence on Gender Differences ......................................38
8.6.2 Sector...........................................................................40
8.6.2.1 Summary..................................................................40
8.6.2.2 Differences Between Sectors ..........................................40
8.6.3 Age and experience ..........................................................41
8.6.3.1 Summary..................................................................41
8.6.3.2 Evidence on the effect of age and experience .....................41
8.7 Comparisons between the wellbeing of teachers and other groups ........43
8.7.1 Summary ....................................................................43
8.7.2 Comparing different professions ........................................43
8.7.3 Comparing teachers from different countries.........................44
8.8 Interventions ........................................................................45
8.8.1 Summary .......................................................................45
8.8.2 Studies on Workplace Interventions for the General Workforce.......47
8.8.3 Intervention Strategies and Teachers......................................49
8.8.3.1 Occupational Health Services .........................................49
8.8.3.2 Employee assistance programmes and counselling services ......50
8.8.3.3 Teacher wellbeing programmes.......................................51
8.8.3.4 Confidential help-lines .................................................53
8.8.4 Costs and benefits of intervention .........................................53
8.9 Teacher Wellbeing and School Effectiveness...................................54
8.9.1 Summary .......................................................................54
8.9.2 The Relationship between Teacher Wellbeing and School Effectiveness
55
9. Interviews with Key Stakeholders ....................................................57
9.1 Introduction .........................................................................57
9.2 Defining Wellbeing and the Nature of Teacher Wellbeing ...................57
9.3 Factors Affecting Teacher Wellbeing............................................58
9.3.1 Overview .......................................................................58
9.3.2 Demands .......................................................................58
9.3.2.1 Workload and pupil behaviour ........................................58
9.3.2.2 Parental behaviour......................................................59
9.3.2.3 Emotional demands .....................................................59
9.3.3 Resources ......................................................................59
9.3.3.1 Community and school culture........................................60
9.3.4 Control .........................................................................60
9.3.4.1 Overview .................................................................60
9.3.4.2 General references to control and/or autonomy...................60
9.3.4.3 Bullying ...................................................................60
9.3.4.4 Performance management.............................................60
9.3.4.5 Rigid structures..........................................................61
9.3.5 Support .........................................................................61
9.3.5.1 Overview .................................................................61
9.3.5.2 Support and relationships..............................................62
9.3.5.3 Support, leadership and management ...............................62
9.3.5.4 Support, reward and respect ..........................................63
9.3.6 Change .........................................................................64
9.3.7 Role .............................................................................64
9.3.8 Demographic variables .......................................................64
9.3.8.1 Overview .................................................................64
9.3.8.2 Age and experience.....................................................65
9.3.8.3 Sector .....................................................................65
9.3.9 Comparisons between the wellbeing of teachers and other groups...65
9.3.9.1 Overview .................................................................65
9.3.9.2 Professional identity....................................................66
9.3.9.3 Isolation ..................................................................66
9.3.9.4 Responsibility for children’s life chances............................66
9.4 Interventions ........................................................................66
9.4.1 Types of Intervention ........................................................66
9.4.2 General overview of knowledge of interventions ........................67
9.4.3 Occupational Health Services ...............................................67
9.4.4 Employee assistance programmes..........................................67

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9.4.5 Teacher wellbeing programmes ............................................68
9.4.6 Confidential help-lines.......................................................68
9.4.7 Costs and benefits of intervention .........................................68
9.5 Teacher wellbeing and effective learning ......................................70
10. Conclusion and discussion .............................................................72
11. References ...............................................................................76
12. Appendix 1 ...............................................................................84
13. Appendix 2: Interview Framework....................................................86
14. Appendix 3: Details of Interviewees .................................................88

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1. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We would like to thank all those who gave up their time to be interviewed for this
study, providing us with valuable background information and context for the
literature review. We would also like to thank the members of the Teacher
Support Network and Teacher Support Network Research Services Boards of
Trustees and Senior Management Teams, whose support enabled this project to
take place. Particular thanks go to Mike Finlayson for initiating the valuable idea
of undertaking this review, and to Patrick Nash for his wholehearted support of
the project.

2. ABOUT TEACHER SUPPORT NETWORK RESEARCH


SERVICES
Teacher Support Network Research Services is part of the Teacher Support
Network Group and is an independent charity that aims to improve understanding
of teacher wellbeing, including its causes, consequences and how it can be
improved. We aim to work with partners in universities and elsewhere to explore
the causes and consequences of poor teacher wellbeing as well as pilot and
evaluate a range of interventions that seek to enhance teacher wellbeing; sharing
our findings with unions, governments and other key stakeholders.
Teacher Support Network was first formed in 1877. It is now a unique group of
charities dedicated to providing vital support to qualified teachers. Throughout
the UK, the Group uses its expertise to improve the personal wellbeing and
effectiveness of teachers, from training to post retirement and in some cases the
whole school workforce.
For enquiries relating to this report or to our research in general, please contact
us by emailing research@teachersupport.net or phoning 0207 697 2750.

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3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The purpose of this review was to evaluate the evidence available about teacher
wellbeing. It used documentary analysis of the relevant literature and interviews
with 31 stakeholders or experts to explore concepts and arguments about teacher
wellbeing, conditions under which it is promoted or undermined, effectiveness of
different kinds of support and the influence of teacher wellbeing on student
achievement. It also examined the ways in which teachers’ work-related
“wellbeing” has been construed.
The basic framework for the analysis looked at evidence relating to nine elements
that have been considered to be possible influences on, or effects of, wellbeing:
demands on teachers, locus of control over their work, support for them, impact
of change, clarity of role, demographic influences, comparisons with other groups,
interventions and the relationship of teacher wellbeing with student achievement.

The nature of teacher wellbeing

Much of the study of teacher wellbeing has focussed on negative aspects of stress,
mental health and burnout. Strong evidence about factors that enhance wellbeing
is harder to find. Most authors have eschewed succinct definitions of wellbeing
and focussed instead on concepts such as job satisfaction, self efficacy, stress,
emotional demands or burnout. Stakeholder interviewees’ views were concerned
with similar groups of occupational features.
What is to count as “wellbeing” has tended, therefore, to be a somewhat broad
and mixed concept. One paper, however, has provided a positive definition for
teachers
Well-being expresses a positive emotional state, which is the result of
harmony between the sum of specific environmental factors on the one
hand, and the personal needs and expectations of teachers on the other
hand. (Aeltermann, Engels, van Petegem, & Verheghe, 2007, p. 286)

Demands on teachers

The literature provides considerable evidence that teachers perceive the main
demands on them as arising from pupil misbehaviour and workload, with some
evidence that emotional demands, emotional labour and parental behaviour may
also be important. About 80% of the interview respondents also identified
demands of these kinds as affecting teacher wellbeing.
Several studies have provided significant evidence that demands from workload
and pupil misbehaviour result in work stress and reduced job satisfaction. Most
evidence has come from cross-sectional surveys, involving large random samples
of teachers from different parts of the country. Small-scale qualitative studies and
one longitudinal study have supported the surveys’ findings and linked workload
and poor pupil behaviour to teachers’ levels of commitment. Most interview
respondents also recognised workload and pupil behaviour as demands on

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teachers, but few made links with general concepts of demand or with
management.
Dealing with difficult parental behaviour may also raise levels of stress, but the
evidence is limited to survey reports and variation in their findings suggests
questions remain about the importance of such behaviour. This source of stress
has not been a focus for academic research papers, but about one third of
stakeholders interviewed cited it as challenging teacher wellbeing.
Significant evidence from several well designed studies (none from the UK),
indicates that emotional demands affect teachers’ sense of personal
accomplishment and efficacy. Emotional exhaustion has been linked negatively to
teachers’ feelings of accomplishment, efficacy and competence. One study found
strong evidence that emotional labour has a distinctive role in teacher wellbeing.
About one third of the interview respondents referred to the emotional demands
of teachers’ exhausting daylong interactions with children.

Control over teachers’ work

Repeated, sometimes strong, evidence from surveys, cross-sectional studies with


large samples, and smaller scale qualitative research has indicated the
importance for wellbeing of teachers having control over their work. This
appears to be mediated through improved job satisfaction and reduced emotional
exhaustion. Studies outwith the UK have indicated that having more job control is
positively related to feelings of personal accomplishment, autonomy and efficacy
as a teacher. Limited evidence from two large surveys suggests that UK teachers
believe they lack control over their jobs. Although there have been attempts to
develop theoretical models for these relationships, some of the evidence available
has failed to support them.
Nearly half of the interview respondents made reference to control or autonomy
and cited problems of performance management (including imposition of targets
and inspections), rigid structures, hierarchies and bullying.

Support for teachers

Wellbeing surveys of large random samples of UK teachers, together with case


studies, have found a clear emphasis on the importance of support from
colleagues, senior staff and headteachers in reducing stress and improving
wellbeing. There is also limited evidence from other empirical studies in the UK
and elsewhere that poor staff relationships increase stress and positive
relationships with colleagues are linked with teacher wellbeing. Even more limited
evidence suggests teachers’ feelings of isolation can often be attributed to
breakdown in working relationships. However, numerous research reports have
indicated that support from colleagues may be less important for wellbeing than
supportive leadership. They have linked higher stress levels with inadequate
management or poor relations with senior staff. Significant evidence has
demonstrated the importance of leadership in creating school cultures where
teachers feel a sense of commitment, satisfaction in their accomplishments and

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improvement in wellbeing. A majority of the interviewees confirmed the
importance of support from both peer relationships and effective management.
Government reports and quantitative research into the wellbeing of the UK
workforce in general have recognised the importance of rewards and respect at
work. Evidence from a range of research, specifically on UK teachers, has also
linked work stress levels and job satisfaction with the rewards or respect that
teaching receives. More limited (non-UK) evidence has documented teachers’
perceptions of a negative balance between inadequate rewards and the efforts
required of them. About a quarter of the stakeholder interviewees expressed
disquiet over what they saw as an important reduction in respect for the teaching
profession over recent years.
A few studies have suggested that low pay disincentives are less important factors
for teachers in the UK now than in the past (or in other countries) and this may
reflect improved pay structures in recent years. The evidence on this, however, is
sparse. A minority of interviewees showed some concern over the low levels of
remuneration for teaching.

Organisational change

There is a common-sense belief that organisational change affects teacher


wellbeing through its influence on stress and work satisfaction. The research
evidence has not been strong, however: few studies have been undertaken,
findings have shown significant variation and methodological problems have been
apparent. (Information on the effects of change may, of course, be “buried” in
research that has focussed on demands such as workload.) Links between change
and wellbeing may be complex and highly dependent on whether teachers are
experiencing particularly disruptive changes at the time the evidence is gathered.
The stakeholders interviewed had strong views about the impact of rapid
government initiatives, changes in curricula or assessments and various other
interventions. They discussed a range of implications of such changes, from
increases in day-to-day stress to attacks on teachers’ professionalism.

Role conflicts or ambiguity

There have been suggestions that ambiguity or lack of clarity of role might have
relevance to teacher wellbeing. However, there is little systematic evidence to
support this view, the relevant studies suffer from methodological problems and
most have been carried out in countries other than the UK. A small number of
interview respondents recognised that multiple roles might be a problem for
teacher wellbeing.

Gender, age, experience and sector

For all types of employment, and specifically for teachers, evidence from a range
of surveys and other research (using a variety of approaches) in several countries
including the UK, has shown that males have lower job satisfaction, higher work

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stress and lower wellbeing while, in general, older or more experienced teachers
have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of stress and lower overall
wellbeing. However, other more limited evidence also suggests possible
gender/age interactions with (a) stress levels higher for men during the first 10
years of teaching and for women thereafter, and (b) less work satisfaction for
older males compared with females of similar age and experience, but younger
and less experienced males having more satisfaction than their female
counterparts. The impact of these variables seems complex and explanations of
the differences observed have speculated about possibilities of female teachers
having better active coping skills or male teachers’ satisfaction being more
influenced by schools’ organisational cultures. In addition, it may be that that the
sector of education plays a part: female teachers are more likely to be younger
and work in nursery or primary schools. However, direct evidence available
suggests differences between sectors are complex and depend on local
organisation of education.
The interviewed stakeholders had nothing to say about teacher gender and only
four mentioned age. They suggested older teachers encountered more stress from
changes in teaching contexts and increasing pace of change, but also cited
problems arising from younger teachers’ inexperience. Sectors were briefly
referred to with primary schools regarded as having better communications and
relationships as a result of their flatter hierarchies.

Comparing the wellbeing of UK teachers and others

Strong evidence from survey research comparing the stresses in different


occupations has indicated that teachers are among those professions with the
highest levels of stress and mental health problems. Similar evidence comparing
wellbeing across professions, however, is lacking. Other comparative studies, not
all in the UK, have offered more limited evidence that particular psychological
stress factors for teachers have been the professional isolation and high levels of
emotional labour of the work. There have been contentions that teachers’ stress
from high levels of long-term responsibility for children’s lives and associated
emotional demands are less frequently faced by other professions.
Evidence from research exploring differences among various countries suggested
that teachers in England may have lower job satisfaction and higher stress than
those in other European countries.
Nearly two thirds of the stakeholder respondents were unconvinced that teachers’
needs were very different from other groups; some suggested that lack of respect,
responsibility and emotional exhaustion were factors for all public sector workers.
Nevertheless, the importance of teachers’ distinctive professional identity,
isolation and responsibilities for young people was reinforced.

Interventions

Interventions aimed at reducing workplace stress for the general workforce are
categorised as primary (preventing work-related stress arising, targeting

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employee, job or worker/workplace interface); secondary (minimising the impact
of stress and seriousness of its consequences, focussed on individual workers); or
tertiary (identifying ill effects of stress and rehabilitating individuals for return to
work). Interventions have focussed mainly on secondary and tertiary management
techniques. Some evidence has suggested that individual interventions are the
most effective for mental health problems, but organisational interventions are
most effective for job-related stress reduction.
Most intervention strategies for teachers have been tertiary, and so less likely to
counter the problems of stressful work environments. In contrast, the
stakeholders interviewed paid most attention to primary strategies. Wellbeing
programmes have provided schools with primary intervention management
techniques, but so far evidence on their effectiveness has been limited. Three
large reports, not specific to teachers, have presented the business case for
wellbeing interventions with evidence suggesting a clear case for ensuing benefits.
However, no intervention has been unambiguously demonstrated as the cause of
benefits such as reduced absenteeism, and no studies have been dedicated to
cost-benefit analyses of services for teachers. Stakeholders’ views on costs and
benefits were mixed and illustrated the complexity of this aspect of teacher
support.
Wellbeing surveys have shown that teachers have rarely used local authority
occupational health services; they have expressed concerns about confidentiality,
possible stigmatisation and adverse consequences for promotion. Some evidence
has suggested occupational healthcare workers know more about, and are better
equipped to advise on, physical health problems than those of mental health.
However, teachers’ ill-health retirement most commonly results from mental
health problems.
Teachers have often been unaware of their local authorities’ employee assistance
programmes (EAPs) or other counselling services, and evidence of the services’
effectiveness in countering stressful work environments or improving occupational
outcomes has been meagre. There is, however, preliminary evidence that
programmes with holistic approaches, such as the Norfolk or London Wellbeing
programmes, over time can effectively influence problems such as communication
issues or sickness related absence.
Large surveys in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have found that teachers
respond positively to ideas of confidential help-lines (e.g. Teacher Support Line).
As yet, however, there is no body of systematic evaluations of such help-lines.

Teacher wellbeing and student learning

Several studies of different kinds, a few in the UK, have identified positive
relationships between aspects of teacher wellbeing and student learning, job
performance or other aspects of teaching effectiveness. They have not been able,
however, to demonstrate clear causal links in these relationships, and some of
these studies have significant methodological limitations.
It was striking that, without exception, all the interview respondents stated that
teacher wellbeing would influence the effectiveness of students’ learning. Less

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than one quarter, however, were able to suggest any evidence to support their
opinion, and some expressed concern about the difficulties of obtaining empirical
findings to underpin their beliefs.

Findings and recommendations

By making suggestions for further research that might be undertaken, the


following provides a summary of the “gaps” that are apparent in the body of
evidence relating to the wellbeing of teachers.
1. There is a need to focus on, and be clear about, the meaning of “wellbeing”.
Research placing greater emphasis on developing and evaluating ways of
enhancing it, rather than focussing on how it is damaged or on concepts like
stress and burnout, should have more priority.
2. It is clearly established that teachers perceive the impact of workload and
pupil misbehaviour on wellbeing to be important. However, more attention to
detailed studies of what are the specific demands imposed by these stressors,
and of how they may be moderated, is required.
3. More evidence is needed on whether, and to what extent, parental behaviour
impacts on teachers’ wellbeing. If this evidence is significant, there is a case
for exploring and evaluating how the impact might be moderated.
4. Replications of studies in other countries are important to investigate the
impact of emotional demands, such as emotional labour and exhaustion, on
teachers’ wellbeing. Exploration and evaluation of how such impact might be
moderated would follow.
5. Research is needed to investigate influences of school and demographic factors
(gender, age, experience, sector) on teacher wellbeing. This would replicate
studies in other countries, rather than the current UK work on stress and job
satisfaction.
6. There is a need to explore in depth the nature of the control over their work
and the support that can have a positive impact on teacher wellbeing.
7. More extensive studies of teachers-in-schools would be desirable to collect
evidence on links between relationships-with-colleagues and individual
teachers’ wellbeing, and on whether gender or sector of school education
influences such links.
8. Action research to promote styles of leadership and management that promote
teacher wellbeing should be undertaken and evaluated.
9. Respect and rewards for teaching in different parts of the UK should be
investigated with a focus on perceptions from both within and outwith the
profession.
10. Investigations are needed to explore interaction effects of gender and age on
the various aspects of teacher wellbeing with the aim of designing targeted
interventions for specific groups.
11. All intervention programmes should be rigorously and systematically evaluated,
with the imbalance among primary, secondary and tertiary approaches made
public for action to be taken. Where occupational health services are provided,
personnel should be equipped to deal with all problems, including those of
mental health.

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12. New studies of the impact of teacher wellbeing on student learning should be
undertaken, with validated measures of wellbeing and research designs that
promise better identification of causal findings.

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4. INTRODUCTION
The vision of Teacher Support Network, together with the associated Teacher
Support Cymru (TSC) and Teacher Support Scotland (TSS), is for all teachers and
lecturers to have access to practical and emotional support to improve their
wellbeing, professional effectiveness and personal fulfilment. A significant bank of
ideas and literature is available and is based on experience and research in the
field. There is a need, however, to pull this material together and evaluate the
extent to which understanding of these matters is based on firm foundations.
Furthermore, it is clear that the nature of teacher wellbeing and its impacts on
health, economic, social and educational matters are still not well understood by
the general public. In consequence, there can be political and institutional
ignorance or prejudice that may form barriers to action or a reluctance to
evaluate the effectiveness of any interventions or policies.
This research is aware that the kinds of questions that are often asked by those
not already committed to the cause include:
• What counts as teacher “wellbeing”?
• Why should their wellbeing be considered as different and suffering in
comparison with other groups of workers?
• What is the evidence indicating that there are specific factors which
undermine teacher wellbeing, and what are those factors?
• Which of these factors are clearly distinguishable as applying to teaching,
but not to other occupations?
• What evidence is there that interventions make any difference to
wellbeing and what are the costs of intervening?
• What evidence is there of the effects and costs of not intervening?
• What is the evidence about the impact of teacher wellbeing on the
effectiveness of students’ learning?
• What aspects of the working environment and conditions contribute to the
promotion of, or challenge to, teacher wellbeing and the effectiveness of
young peoples’ learning?
The issues underpinning these questions provide the foci for the research reported
here.
There is a variety of research reports, evaluation studies and more polemic
articles, on teacher wellbeing and how it can be supported, that are available and
relevant to these questions. Published studies on more general aspects of
workplace health, particularly mental health, also provide material that is a
valuable resource for the research on teachers and places it in a broader context.
A major aim of this research, therefore, is to evaluate the diverse material so it
can be organised into a reliable and succinct knowledge framework. It is intended
that this should facilitate the planning of support services, the design of future
research priorities and the provision of credible arguments to be put to potential
funding bodies for such work. It should distinguish substantial and trustworthy
evidence from “softer” evidence or simple statements of belief. Those distinctions
will provide indications of gaps in our current knowledge and possibilities for
future research and development. Such developments would focus on both the

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avoidance of prospective damage to teacher wellbeing and support for those
already in difficulty.
In this report we focus on the literature and experiences in relation to support for
school teachers rather than lecturers in tertiary education as this is the area
where Teacher Support Network, TSC and TSS have most experience in practice,
research and familiarity with the literature. (Clearly this could later be extended
to include the literature on the wellbeing of further and higher education
lecturers.)

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5. STRATEGY AND PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH
The research strategy envisages several stages, but this report relates only to the
first of these. This has comprised a critical review of the existing knowledge on
teacher wellbeing and has aimed to provide a sound account of the evidence
available to inform the existing Teacher Support Network services and the
development of new services and interventions. A knowledge base of this kind can
help to confirm Teacher Support Network as the authority on teacher wellbeing
and lend weight to calls for Government, employers and schools to prioritise
teacher wellbeing.
Later stages of the research strategy are anticipated as using the identification
from this critical review of any gaps in the evidence base (i.e. areas where there
is a difference between the knowledge Teacher Support Network would like to
have and that currently existing) to inform decisions about the commissioning of
further research, either funded internally or through seeking external grants.
The purpose of the critical review has been to explore and evaluate what is
already known in relation to the questions identified in the Introduction (above).
Part of this has been a clarification of concepts and arguments, but with an
emphasis on the identification of evidence about:
• The ways in which teachers’ wellbeing is construed and assessed
• The conditions which promote (or undermine) teacher wellbeing
• The underlying causes of challenges to teacher wellbeing at work
• The effectiveness (or otherwise) of different kinds of support
• The relationship between teacher wellbeing and student achievement
The aim has been to facilitate Teacher Support Network’s ability to use this
knowledge base to:
• clarify for other audiences what counts as “teacher wellbeing”
• assert with confidence the extent of the need for support for teachers
• provide understandings to underpin decision-making when planning,
implementing and, where appropriate, discontinuing existing services
• develop further ideas for interventions and services with the potential to
address the complex causes of the problem, provide practical and
effective support to teachers and establish more effective practice
• identify knowledge gaps and consider how to respond
• Inform policy and practice within the fields of education and workplace
health, locally, nationally and internationally.
It is anticipated that the findings of this research report will be of interest not
only to Teacher Support Network, but also to:
• Teachers
• Employers/Local Education Authorities
• Potential funders (e.g. government, institutional, foundations)
• Researchers in the field of education and workplace health
• The broader “wellbeing at work” community.
These audiences will have different priorities and interests and this implies that
various alternative forms of the report and other communication will be required.

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6. METHODOLOGY
The review has taken two approaches to the collection of data: a documentary
analysis of the available and relevant literature and a series of interviews with a
range of key stakeholders and experts to ensure that we have gained access to the
tacit knowledge they have.

5.1 The Documentary Analysis

The textual material reviewed has included:


• Data generated as a consequence of providing support services to half a
million teachers over the last six years
• Research commissioned by the Teacher Support Network Group, including
studies in England, Scotland and Wales
• External research into teacher health and wellbeing
• Related research and data, including and in particular, workplace health
and effectiveness.
The approach used for the analysis has reflected the questions and priorities
indicated in the Introduction and Strategies sections above. The list of references
to the texts included in this analysis is provided at the end of the report and the
general framework used for analysing individual texts is provided in Appendix 1.

Identification of documents for review


Scale of the relevant literature
A key issue identified at an early stage in the project was the breadth of
potentially relevant literature and the need for an efficient method of extracting
the best evidence in relation to the review questions. In principle, the review
could draw upon a very large body of literature, although it was felt that studies
which provided evidence relevant specifically to teacher wellbeing would be likely
to be drawn from a much smaller range of papers.
The conventional way to identify the relevant papers would be through keyword
searches on databases such as British Educational Index, Web of Science, Medline
and Psychlit. However, early experience from undertaking the review in this
manner suggested that such an approach would be a large and time-consuming
task, taking in many areas of secondary relevance. It is not the final number of
relevant articles which poses the problem. Rather, so common are publications
about, for example health, stress and workload, that it is almost impossible to
conduct a highly focussed search using keywords on electronic databases without
generating many thousands of articles. It is the sifting out of redundant material
that takes a large amount of resource. Given the timescale and budget for the
research, and the requirement to focus on the best available evidence, a more
efficient method of identifying relevant literature was sought.
Developing sift criteria

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Sift criteria were developed to allowed judgements to be made about whether
individual papers should be excluded or included in subsequent stage of the main
review.
The sift criteria asked three basic questions of each paper:
1. Does the study contain data relevant to teacher wellbeing?
2. Does the study contain data relevant to the review question areas?
3. Does the quality of the paper meet the minimum standards commonly applied
by peer reviews in the social sciences?
This review also used the interviews with stakeholders to identify what they
considered to be good evidence to take into account. As indicated earlier,
stakeholders were chosen on the basis of their knowledge about wellbeing and
more specifically about teacher wellbeing. They therefore acted as an
authoritative source of additional information about potentially relevant articles.
Through the use of these multiple methods of identifying the literature, the risk
of omitting any key studies was minimised.
In general, the studies included were essentially those that (a) reflected
convincing cross-sectional or longitudinal research with relatively strong potential
for generalisation (N.B. although both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies may
both be important, the latter are regarded as more powerful since they can be
used to assign causality) or (b) research that, while less convincing when standing
alone, either replicated or was related to other studies that collectively could
establish new knowledge in the field. Account was taken of characteristics such as
sample size and representativeness, cultural or geographical location of the work,
nature of the data collected and analytical approach.

5.2 Interviews with Stakeholders and Experts

The criteria used for seeking data from individuals in the interview study
included:
• Active involvement in Teacher Support Network, TSC and TSS as staff or
Board members.
• Active involvement the development of activities to support teachers.
• Experience of research in this or related fields.
• Responsibility for the wellbeing of teachers as employees or union
members.
• Responsibility for policy relating to the wellbeing of teachers.
Much of the approach to the interviews has had the same priorities as the
documentary analysis, but the data collection has taken account of the different
nature of the material to be brought together in this part of the work. Appendices
2 and 3 provide the framework used for the interviews and characteristics of those
interviewed. The groups represented in this list include:
• Teacher Support Network and related bodies
• Teachers’ unions
• Local authorities
• Central government

17
• NGOs working in related fields
• Academics with relevant experience
A total of 31 interviews were conducted, each lasting about 45 minutes. Just over
half (16) of the interviews were carried out face to face and the rest (15) by
telephone. This enabled the most effective use of the limited time available. All
interviews were recorded and analysis of the data was carried out from
transcribed material.
It is important to be clear that the interview aspect of the study was not designed
as a systematic survey into the views of a population with experience in the field.
The intention has been to use the interviews as a general source of data about
how those working in the field make sense of it.
Constant comparative analysis of data was adopted to produce descriptive
categories and conceptual and thematic analyses. This approach required a
comparison of each new incident found in the data with those coded previously
for emergent categories (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Data was transcribed, stored
and analysed with the assistance of NVivo7. This specialised software package
provides powerful data analysis and management tools that can aid in the
production of descriptive categories and thematic analysis. It also facilitates the
comparison of each newly coded segment of data with those coded previously for
emergent categories.

18
7. THE NATURE OF TEACHER WELLBEING
While there is a gut feeling that we know what is meant by the term “wellbeing”,
it is not something that is tangible or measurable and there is variation in the
meanings attached to it. Indeed, research to explore the meaning of the term
‘wellbeing’ commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families
and reported last year concluded that
wellbeing is essentially a cultural construct and represents a shifting set of
meanings, - wellbeing is no less than what a group or groups of people
collectively agree makes 'a good life' (Ereaut & Whiting, 2008, p. 1).
Wellbeing can be said to relate to quality of life and have physical (e.g. health,
disease) and psychological (e.g. stress, pleasure, worry) components. A good
starting point is to distinguish between objective and subjective wellbeing in
general.
Objective wellbeing refers to material and social circumstances such as physical
health, income or housing, whereas subjective wellbeing refers to an individual's
self assessment of their emotional state: their own happiness or life satisfaction.
Danna and Griffin (1999) identified two distinct aspects of subjective wellbeing:
• Life (non-work) satisfactions enjoyed by individuals (e.g. satisfaction
and/or dissatisfaction with social life, family life, recreation, spirituality,
general health)
• Work/job-related satisfactions (e.g. satisfaction/dissatisfaction with pay,
promotion opportunities, the job itself and co-workers)
In the field of teacher wellbeing the focus has more often been on feelings,
emotions and teachers' perceptions of their own working lives than on physical
health. Furthermore, such wellbeing has frequently been seen as relating to, and
perhaps assessed by, other affective concepts such as work stress, job
satisfaction, and mental states such as anxiety, depression, somatisation or
burnout. So, for example, use has been made of the Maslach Burnout Inventory
(MBI) which includes emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and sense of
personal accomplishment.
In this review, therefore, the focus is on teachers’ work/job-related satisfactions,
their occupational wellbeing and on the organisational or other factors that have
the potential to support that wellbeing.
The literature has identified the traditions of thought, the variety of elements
making up occupational wellbeing and the needs of teachers that characterise the
field. Teachers’ occupational wellbeing has been defined by Aelterman, Engels,
Petegem and Verhaege (2007) as a positive emotional state
...which is the result of harmony between the sum of specific
environmental factors on the one hand, and the personal needs and
expectations of teachers on the other hand. (Aeltermann et al., 2007, p.
286)
Most authors, however, use the term "teacher wellbeing" without an explicit
definition. Instead the types of measurements suggested, or the way in which the

19
term is used, imply a meaning. Thus assessments of wellbeing often measure
individuals' job satisfaction, feelings of self-efficacy, work stress or burnout.
Job satisfaction can be considered to be a very general measure of wellbeing, but
its complexity can make it a misleading concept. So, for example, individuals may
report they are “satisfied” with their job, but on a day-to-day level may
experience few positive feelings while at work or in relation to their work. It is
important, therefore, to bear in mind that what is assessed in measures of job
satisfaction or, indeed, of stress are not necessarily the same thing as wellbeing.
Although both are often concerned with feelings, they are not synonymous with
wellbeing (Dewberry & Briner, 2007). Because much of the research literature has
reported significant negative correlations between job satisfaction and work stress
(e.g. higher job satisfaction is associated with lower stress), they can be viewed
as complementary variables that provide insights into the level of occupational
wellbeing, but not as revealing the whole picture (Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004;
Rose, 2003; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002; Chaplain, 1995; Borg & Riding, 1991).
Definitions of stress are no more unified than definitions of wellbeing, but work-
related stress has been defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as an
...adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of
demand placed on them (HSE, 2005).
There is a rich literature on stress and relatively robust generic models have been
developed to explain and offer direction for organisational practice. This has led
to importance being placed by, for example, the HSE on the reduction of certain
work stressors as a means of improving occupational wellbeing for all occupations.
As we shall see in section 5.2, there is significant evidence to suggest that job
control is likely to have an influence on teacher wellbeing. At this stage in the
report, however, we are concerned with the possibility of theoretical modelling of
the relationships.
The most influential models, in relation to stress, seem to have evolved from
Karasek’s 1979 Job Demands-Control Model (JDC model). According to the JDC
model, two aspects of the work environment – job demand and job control -
determine the effects of work on the health and stress of the employee. The
initial model (shown as Figure 1) suggests that strain on employees is greatest
where demands of the job are high and employees have little control over what
they do.

20
Figure 1: Job Demands-Control Model Adapted from Karasek (1979)
(Source: Verhoeven, Maes, Kraaij, & Joekes, 2003, p. 422)
A later modification of this, the Job Demand Control Support (JDCS) Model,
included the role played by social support at work (Karasek & Theorell, 1990).
According to the JDCS model, social support at work has an important role: the
most detrimental work situation for the employee occurs when high demands are
combined with low job control and low social support. This is known as the strain
hypothesis of the JDCS model and is supported by considerable research evidence.
However, the related buffer hypothesis, which predicts that having control and
social support can buffer the potential negative effects of high demands, is less
well supported by research evidence. Extensive research for the HSE has led to
the development of a set of management standards based on the JDCS model.
These standards identify six key stressor areas: demands, control, support,
relationships, role and organisational change (MacKay, Cousins, Kelly, Lee, &
McCaig, 2004).
The general JDCS model might be useful in understanding teacher wellbeing,
suggesting that since stress is likely to be related to demand, control and support
for teachers, then these factors might also be related to teacher wellbeing.
However, although the JDCS model is widely used, it has been subject to criticism
arguing that job demands, control and support are not necessarily comparable
across different cultures, countries and professions (Verhoeven et al., 2003).
A number of studies testing the JDCS model for teachers have found only limited
support for it. For example, Van der Doef and Maes (2002) tested the JDCS model
for teachers using a teacher-specific set of variables with a sample of 593
teachers from three secondary schools in the Netherlands. They found some
support for the moderating effects of job control and social support, but they
recognised that their sample was limited to three non-random schools and so their
findings might not be generalisable. Their results also suggested that simple
interventions such as improving job control and worksite support might be
ineffective.

21
In a much larger study, using a stratified random sample of 2796 secondary school
teachers across 13 European countries (the EUROTEACH project), Verhoeven et al.
(2003) found that demand and control were important predictors, and that social
support contributed to the prediction of emotional exhaustion, personal
accomplishment and job satisfaction. Their results supported the strain hypothesis
of the JDCS model; however, they felt that the JDCS model was an over
simplification of the predictors of wellness and health outcomes and were unable
to provide evidence for the buffering effect of control or social support. They also
found important differences between countries. The JDCS model predicted
wellness/health outcomes best for Western European countries but was less valid
in other regions of Europe, especially Eastern Europe.
Griva and Joekes (2003) reporting only on the data from the UK teachers involved
in the EUROTEACH project, similarly found limited support for the model. They
suggested that the lack of relationship found between job control and teacher
wellbeing might be explained by job control being an important factor only where
the teacher had a high need for autonomy. Since in many school settings there
may never have been much scope for control, teachers may simply have become
accustomed to their lack of autonomy. However, their paper made it clear that
the UK sample in the EUROTEACH survey consisted only of a small non-
representative sample of teachers from schools in London. A limitation of all these
studies is their cross-sectional nature: they can only describe correlational
relationships; they cannot establish any direction of the causation.
These studies, which focus specifically on teachers, suggest that a generic focus,
such as that used by the HSE, might be inadequate for a full understanding of
teacher wellbeing. Nevertheless, there is considerable evidence that the HSE
factors do affect aspects of teacher wellbeing, in particular their levels of work
stress and job satisfaction. In the next section, the research concerning teachers’
stress, job satisfaction and wellbeing is reviewed, taking the JDCS factors
(demand, control and support) as a starting point.

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8. TEACHER WELLBEING RESEARCH
In the following sections we first offer a summary of this review’s findings in
relation to each aspect of interest in the field. We then provide a descriptive and
evaluative account of the relevant research studies for those readers who are
looking for greater detail in relation to the available evidence.

7.1 Demand

7.1.1 Summary
There is considerable evidence that the main demands teachers perceive
themselves as having experienced are concerned with pupil misbehaviour and
workload, but there is also some evidence to suggest that emotional demands,
emotional labour and parental behaviour may be important.
The available studies have provided significant evidence that workload and pupil
misbehaviour make demands on teachers that result in work stress and reduce
job satisfaction. Although the majority of the evidence has come from cross-
sectional survey approaches, large random samples of teachers from different
parts of the country have been involved. Three small-scale qualitative studies
have illustrated and supported the links found in the surveys. In addition, a
longitudinal study has added strength to these findings and has also linked high
levels of workload and poor pupil behaviour to teachers’ levels of commitment,
and one cross-sectional study from Belgium has shown that lower pressure of work
is related to improved teacher wellbeing.
Parental behaviour might also be a demand causing high levels of stress, but the
evidence here is limited to commissioned survey reports. Although it seems likely
that teachers do find parental behaviour a source of stress, the variation in the
results of these surveys suggests that the importance of such a stress is still open
to question. In addition, parental behaviour as a source of stress does not appear
to have been a subject of study in the academic research papers.
There is quite strong evidence that emotional demands affect teachers’ sense of
personal accomplishment and efficacy: three cross-sectional studies, two of which
involved large samples, found a significant link between emotional exhaustion and
perceptions of accomplishment and efficacy, and two much smaller studies, one
longitudinal, have linked increased emotional exhaustion to decreased feelings of
personal accomplishment and competence. In addition, a longitudinal study with
quite a large sample found that emotional exhaustion lead to reduced self-
efficacy and sense of personal accomplishment. None of this evidence, however,
comes from UK studies.
A longitudinal study has provided strong evidence that emotional labour may
have an important and unique part to play in levels of teacher wellbeing, but only
one other study could be found in support of this idea. This second study had a
reasonably large sample, but used a cross-sectional approach and has not yet been
published in the academic literature. So evidence on emotional labour and
teachers is limited at present.

23
7.1.2 Workload and pupil behaviour
Wellbeing surveys involving teachers at all levels from Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland have asked teachers to name the greatest sources of stress and
have found that pupil behaviour and workload are the most frequently named
(Davies, 2007; NASUWT, 2005; Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004;
PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002). All four reports used large random samples of
teachers and provided descriptive statistics based on the results of questionnaires
used on a single occasion. In all these surveys the sources of stress were
volunteered entirely by the respondents. However, these reports, while providing
some potentially useful information, make no claims for the validity or reliability
of their questionnaires, offer only descriptive accounts and do not include any
statistical analysis.
A number of quantitative correlational studies have also found that pupil
behaviour and workload are demands that affect aspects of teacher wellbeing.
Increased stress has been reported as related to pupil misbehaviour and workload
in two UK studies. Trendall (1988) made a careful study of teacher stress, using a
questionnaire to 237 teachers across primary and secondary schools in one Local
Education Authority (LEA), and found that high stress factors for staff in all
sectors included workload and pupil misbehaviour. Her findings were supported by
a later study by Chaplain (1995), who investigated job satisfaction and stress in
primary teachers in England using a questionnaire to 267 teachers, and found that
pupil behaviour was a general stressor for the teachers surveyed. These results
are also supported by research from outside the UK. Punch and Tuettemann (1996)
linked workload with stress levels based on the results of a postal questionnaire
with 574 secondary school classroom teachers in Australia. Pupil behaviour and
workload have also been linked to reduced job satisfaction in a USA study by
Stockard and Lehman (2004). Although their sample was not a representative one
as it involved only teachers in their first year of teaching, a strength of their work
was the longitudinal design and the national sample of 379 teachers.
Qualitative studies have found similar relationships. Brown and Ralph (2002)
investigated teacher stress and school improvement over 2 academic years
(1997/98 and 1998/99) using focussed interviews with 20 primary and secondary
teachers. The main causes of stress raised by these teachers were pupils and
workload. Webb et al. (2004) compared teachers from England and Finland in
terms of pressures, rewards and retention, using case studies of 6 English and 6
Finnish schools. They observed that work intensification and deteriorating pupil
behaviour were the two most important factors for teachers in both countries. In
an ethnographic study of one English Primary school, Forrester (2000) found that
the intensification of workload had resulted in the teachers in that school
experiencing a sense of inadequacy and personal dissatisfaction with their own
performance.
While teachers endeavour to satisfy the demands of increased assessment,
administration and accountability there is an apparent decrease in the
service to their pupils as a consequence. This in turn generates anxiety,
stress and guilt for teachers who perceive that their teaching is impeded
while also less effective and responsive. (Forrester, 2000, p. 149)

24
Strength is added to these findings by the results of the Vitae project (Day et al.,
2006), a longitudinal study including data generated by in-depth interviews and
surveys with almost 300 primary and secondary teachers over two years. This
detailed study observed that the most frequently cited causes of declining
commitment were workload (68%) and pupil behaviour (64%).
One study has looked directly at the factors affecting teacher wellbeing and made
a direct link between pressure of work and wellbeing: Aelterman et al. (2007)
used a reliable and validated wellbeing questionnaire, with a representative
sample of almost 2000 teachers in Belgium (945 teachers from 56 elementary
schools and 989 teachers from 37 secondary schools) and found that lower
pressure of work was related to higher levels of wellbeing.
Two papers have detailed the reasons offered by teachers for the high demands
made by their workloads. In the UK, teachers have cited administration, non-
teaching tasks, covering for absent colleagues, government initiatives and poor
planning by management (G. Butt & Lance, 2005). This paper reported the views
of secondary school teachers involved in the Pathfinder Project, an initiative
designed to address issues of teacher workload and job satisfaction. Data
collected included questionnaires to 630 staff and interviews with a sample of
staff from 32 pilot schools. However, a New Zealand case study of one large
secondary school (Timperley & Robinson, 2000) challenged the notion that
teachers are the victims of ever-increasing demands on their time. Instead, the
authors suggested that the professional culture of teachers might contribute to
their workload. They observed that workload was increased by the proliferation of
initiatives, duplication of effort, coordination difficulties, and wasted meeting
time because of the fragmentation of the school into departments and a lack of
clear organisational structure across the whole school. Other issues were those of
unresolved personal conflicts, rejection of accountability for fear of damaging
teachers’ professionalism, and lack of challenge to ineffective approaches
because of reluctance to undermine colleagues. These led to practices such as
proliferation of parallel structures, add-on new initiatives, escape from
accountability, uncritical acceptance of current practice and avoidance of
interpersonal conflict. This is an interesting paper because, although it is a study
of only one school, it demonstrates that organisational structures and the
professional culture of teachers themselves may be important factors in achieving
or inhibiting wellbeing.

7.1.3 Parental behaviour


Parental behaviour was also named as a cause of stress by teachers involved in the
four UK surveys referred to in section 6.1.2 (Davies, 2007; NASUWT, 2005; Dunlop
& Macdonald, 2004; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002). All four cited parental
behaviour as a cause of stress, and in three of the surveys the proportion was
high.
In the Northern Ireland survey 34.6% of a random sample of 11,787 teachers cited
“Lack of parental support on discipline” as a cause of unwanted stress at work
(PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002). Two Welsh surveys reported that “parental
behaviour” was a source of stress: 15% of teachers sampled in a small study of 312
teachers (Davies, 2007) and 25% in a survey with a larger sample of 2,162 teachers

25
(NASUWT, 2005). However, a survey in Scotland (Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004)
reported a much lower figure of 4.9% of 488 teachers who felt that “relationships
with parents” were a source of stress. Although their sample was smaller than
those from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the NASUWT, it was still relatively large
and represented the views of a random sample of teachers.

7.1.4 Emotional demand and emotional labour


Emotional demands have been investigated as measures of teacher stress,
satisfaction or wellbeing by a number of authors. Burnout and emotional
exhaustion have been generally used as measures. Burnout itself has usually been
assessed through the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Maslach defines burnout as
a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on
the job. (Maslach, 2003, p. 1)
and identifies three burnout dimensions: emotional exhaustion (feelings of being
emotionally overextended and exhausted by one's work), depersonalisation (an
unfeeling or impersonal response toward students) and a reduced sense of
personal accomplishment or loss of self-efficacy (Maslach & Jackson, 1986).
Survey research with a stratified random sample of 2796 secondary school
teachers across 13 European countries (Verhoeven et al., 2003), used a reliable
measure of work characteristics for the measurement of the JDCS variables job
demands (time pressures, role ambiguity and problematic interactions with
students), job control (decision authority and training opportunities) and social
support (from management, senior staff and colleagues). The authors found that
the primary predictors of emotional exhaustion included physical exertion, job
demands, lack of meaningfulness of work, lack of social support, lack of control,
and total work time. They also reported that meaningfulness of work, low levels
of job demand, high levels of job control, total work time and social support
predicted teachers’ sense of personal accomplishment.
The relationship between social support, emotional exhaustion and teacher
burnout has been explored by Sarros and Sarros (1992) using a questionnaire with
a random sample of 550 secondary school teachers in Australia. They found that
the principal’s support was associated with a heightened sense of personal
accomplishment; the greater the support from principal and faculty head the
lower the level of emotional exhaustion and burnout. The type of social support
was important: those teachers who perceived they worked in a supportive
environment (organisational not individual) experienced lower levels of stress and
burnout.
A survey with 157 Australian teachers conducted by Pillay, Goddard and Wilss
(2005), showed a negative relationship between depersonalisation (an unfeeling or
impersonal response towards students) and teachers' perception of their own
competence. The authors suggested that this depersonalisation might arise as a
distancing mechanism to minimise a sense of incompetence resulting from
difficult interactions with pupils. They suggested that reducing feelings of
isolation as well as increasing self esteem might alleviate this situation. In a
similar vein, Goddard et al. (2006) reported an increase in emotional exhaustion
and depersonalisation and a decrease in feelings of personal accomplishment for
79 beginning teachers in Australia. In this study the data were collected

26
longitudinally by questionnaire on 4 occasions during the first 2 years of teaching.
One of the measures of the work environment, potential for innovation, was
significantly associated with burnout levels; work environments that were rated
low on their ability to support innovative teaching were consistently associated
with increased levels of burnout. The authors suggested that having an innovative
environment might reduce all aspects of burnout.
Brouwers and Tomic (2000) used a longitudinal approach to study secondary school
teacher burnout and perceived self-efficacy in classroom management, gathering
data by questionnaire on two occasions (October 1997 and March 1998) from 15
randomly selected schools in the Netherlands. Teachers involved in both waves
were used in the analysis (n=243). The authors showed that emotional exhaustion
led to reduced self-efficacy and sense of personal accomplishment and suggested,
citing Bandura (1997), that
Perceived self-efficacy is a judgment of one's ability to organize and
execute given types of performances, whereas personal accomplishment
refers to a judgment of the consequences of such performances. (Brouwers
& Tomic, 2000, p. 249)
Evidence has also been collected indicating that emotional labour is significantly
related to burnout level (Zammuner & Galli, 2005). The authors investigated the
effects of employee-customer interactions on the emotional regulation processes
of 796 Italian service workers. The idea of emotional labour was introduced by
Hochschild (1983) to describe situations in which employees (usually within
service industries) need to regulate their emotional display in their face-to-face
interactions with, for example, pupils. Individuals sometimes must hide or fake
felt emotions. Hochschild introduced the terms surface and deep acting. Surface
acting involves the person acting as though the required emotion is really felt, but
in deep acting the person tries really to feel the emotions that he or she is
supposed to express. Research suggests that positive emotions are usually
required whereas negative emotions often have to be suppressed. Evidence from
interviews with university lecturers in the UK has suggested that because teaching
requires considerable interaction with students every working day, it involves
showing or exaggerating some emotions (Ogbonna & Harris, 2004). These authors
also suggested that lecturers consider the faking of emotions to be stressful. In a
comparative study of various professions, Ybema and Smoulders (2002) studied the
need to suppress emotions with more than 4000 participants. Their results
suggested that teachers quite often experienced the need to suppress emotions.
Kinman, Hindler and Walsh (2004) reported, in a conference presentation, the
results of a study in which they used a questionnaire with 382 UK teachers to
discover to what extent teachers experienced emotional labour. Measures
included emotional demand and physical and psychological wellbeing. Their
results suggested that teachers' emotional labour might have negative implications
for their physical and psychological wellbeing and work-life balance.
Naring, Briet and Brouwers (2006) conducted a study with a random sample of 365
secondary school teachers from Holland, all of whom were members of the Dutch
Association of Maths teachers. They were able to show that, for teachers,
emotional labour had a unique relationship with burnout that is separate from its
relationship with the variables in the JDCS model. In line with many other studies

27
they confirmed that demands, control and support are significantly related to
emotional exhaustion, but additionally they tested the hypothesis that the surface
acting dimension of emotional labour was related to emotional exhaustion. They
concluded that although it was important to investigate what made teachers feel
exhausted, it was also important to investigate what made them feel enthusiastic
about their work.

7.2 Control

7.2.1 Summary
The available evidence from surveys and cross-sectional research studies, all with
large samples, suggests that lower control over their work is likely to cause
teachers more stress and two small qualitative studies provide illustrations from
individual schools to support this view. There is also evidence from two studies,
one of them longitudinal, to suggest that teachers’ job satisfaction may be
improved by having more control over their work environment. A further
longitudinal study, although not involving teachers, is important because it shows
that having greater control over one’s job reduces emotional exhaustion. Overall,
these studies provide quite strong evidence indicating the importance to teacher
wellbeing of having control over the job.
In addition there is limited evidence from two cross-sectional studies involving
large samples of teachers, neither from the UK, indicating that having more job
control is positively related to feelings of personal accomplishment. These
quantitative studies are supported by a small qualitative study, which observed
that a key factor for positive wellbeing included having feelings of autonomy and
efficacy as a teacher.
There is also some limited evidence from two large surveys to suggest that UK
teachers believe that they lack control over their jobs.

7.2.2 Levels of Job Control in Teaching


In a major study of teacher status, which included national questionnaire surveys
of 2350 teachers (28.5% response rate) in 2003 and 5340 (40.5% response rate) in
2006, Hargreaves et al. (2007) found a clear characterisation of teaching as a
profession highly subject to external control and regulation. In contrast, they
argued that higher status professions were subject to much less external control
and regulation. Griva and Joekes (2003) observed in a peer-reviewed paper that
UK teachers had lower control than teachers in other European countries.
However, this survey had a small sample of 166 individuals, included only London
based teachers and had a low response rate of 28%. Forrester (2000), using a case
study approach with one English Primary school found that, on the whole, the
teachers in that school regarded the government’s educational initiatives as
constraining their own methods of working.

7.2.3 Job Control and work stress or job satisfaction


A small number of UK studies have linked job control with work stress or job
satisfaction. In a study in Northern Ireland involving a random sample of 11,787

28
teachers (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002), control issues in the job were said to
be a major cause of stress. Other aspects of external control, performance
management through inspections and target setting, were also cited as sources of
stress in two Welsh surveys: a small study of 312 teachers (Davies, 2007) and a
larger study of 2,162 teachers (NASUWT, 2005).
In a questionnaire study involving 609 teachers from 114 schools in England, Scott,
Cox and Dinham (1999) found that job control played an important part in
determining job satisfaction: teachers were more satisfied if they had greater
control over their work. Similarly, Stockard and Lehman (2004), investigating the
satisfaction and retention of first year teachers, found that satisfaction was
greatly influenced by the level of control teachers had over the work
environment. They used a longitudinal design and two different samples in the
USA: a panel study over 3 years with a national sample of 379 teachers and a
smaller one year study of 117 teachers in one western state.

7.2.4 Job control and emotional exhaustion


The EUROTEACH survey research with 2796 secondary school teachers from 13
European countries (Verhoeven et al., 2003), identified teachers’ lack of control
over their job as one of the primary predictors of emotional exhaustion. This was
a cross-sectional study and so could not show causation. However, Van Vegchel,
de Jonge, Soderfeldt, Dormann and Schaufeli (2004), in a longitudinal research
study with a large sample of 3173 Human Service Employees in Sweden, found job
control was linked to emotional demands and emotional exhaustion. Their results
showed that reduced control by employees over their own jobs was related to all
burnout variables over time (i.e., emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and
personal accomplishment) and that in order to reduce burnout, staff needed to
have greater control. They suggested that task enrichment and decentralisation of
authority might be useful ways to give employees that control.

7.2.5 Job control and self-efficacy


Self-efficacy rather than job satisfaction or work stress may be important in an
exploration of job control. Having control over one’s job has often been linked
positively to aspects of self-efficacy such as high self-esteem, personal
accomplishment and competence. These have been associated with improved
wellbeing and satisfaction (Semner, 2006). Although aspects of self-efficacy are
investigated in a number of empirical studies few, and none from the UK, have
demonstrated direct links with job control.
A quantitative study has linked the level of job control with perceptions of
personal accomplishment (Näring et al., 2006). This research, with a random
sample of 365 secondary school teachers from the Netherlands, showed that
greater job control was positively related to perceptions of personal
accomplishment.
Butt and Retallick (2002), using a qualitative approach, analysed the
autobiographies of 29 teachers in Canada. They observed that a key factor for a
positive sense of wellbeing was having feelings of trust, respect, autonomy and
efficacy as a teacher.

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7.3 Support

7.3.1 Summary
Teachers from the UK have described the importance of support from
colleagues, senior staff and headteachers in various wellbeing surveys. Although
these were not peer-reviewed, they involved large random samples of teachers.
Case studies have found that such support was highly valued by primary teachers
in England and Finland and in Australia. Support has also been associated with
reduced stress through quantitative cross-sectional surveys with large samples
(two from the UK), and a qualitative study utilising interviews with UK teachers.
The weight of evidence suggests teachers’ wellbeing will be improved through
support from colleagues and school managers.
A number of quantitative surveys involving large groups of teachers and one
qualitative, interview study with a small group of teachers, found that poor
relationships can increase stress. Evidence from a Canadian study, investigating
teachers’ autobiographies, found that positive relationships were linked with
teacher wellbeing. Only the qualitative work has been peer-reviewed, however,
and so the evidence is limited.
Teachers’ feelings of isolation have been attributed to the breakdown in working
relationships. The evidence is very limited, however, and based on a small
qualitative study in the UK and a quantitative survey in Australia with a relatively
small sample of teachers and unclear sampling methods.
Support from colleagues may be less important than supportive leadership and
management for teacher wellbeing. A considerable number of reports from
different sources linked higher stress levels with poor management and poor
relations with senior staff. Surveys have described school management and
leadership as a major stressor. These reports, although not peer-reviewed, are
strengthened by findings from both quantitative and qualitative research studies,
including a longitudinal study. Further research evidence shows positive effects of
supportive management on satisfaction and personal accomplishment, and
highlights the importance of school leadership in creating a culture where
teachers feel a sense of commitment. A few studies, in the UK and elsewhere and
using a variety of methods, have looked at teacher wellbeing directly and
indicated the importance of supportive leadership and confirmed that it is likely
to be central to the improvement of teacher wellbeing
Government reports and quantitative research into the health and wellbeing of
the UK workforce in general, have recognised the importance of rewards and
respect at work and linked these to the levels of social support for workers.
Research related specifically to teachers has also found links between levels of
work stress and job satisfaction with the rewards and respect (including positive
feedback from children) associated with teaching. Weak evidence (not from the
UK) has suggested that teachers often believe that the efforts they put in to their
work are greater than the rewards they receive.
A qualitative study, comparing primary teachers in England and Finland, observed
that while low pay was a disincentive in Finland pay was not at issue for the
English teachers. Two other surveys had mixed findings, but suggest that pay, as a

30
reward, may be less important to UK teachers now than in the past, reflecting the
improved pay structure for UK teachers.

7.3.2 Importance of Support


Surveys in the UK have described the importance of support from colleagues,
senior staff and headteachers in improving wellbeing (Rumsby, 2001; Dunlop &
Macdonald, 2004; Worklife Support Ltd, 2006; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002).
Case studies have also found that such support was highly valued by primary
teachers in England, Finland (Webb et al., 2004) and Australia (Sturmfels, 2006).
Teachers’ wellbeing has been directly related to the level of support provided by
colleagues and headteachers in a study by Aelterman et al. (2007). Using a
representative sample of almost 2000 teachers in Belgium (945 teachers from 56
elementary schools and 989 teachers from 37 secondary schools) they concluded
that the extent to which teachers were supported by colleagues and principals
had a significant influence on their general wellbeing.
Support has also been associated with reduced stress in quantitative cross-
sectional surveys. In the UK, Cropley, Griffiths and Steptoe (1999) used a
questionnaire with a purposive sample of 780 primary and secondary teachers
from 126 South London schools. They investigated relationships among coping
strategies, job stress, and social support for teachers. A significant correlation
between social support and stress levels was found, with lower stress associated
with greater use of social support. Punch and Tuettemann (1996), in a postal
questionnaire with 574 Australian full time secondary school classroom teachers,
also found that higher levels of colleague and principal support were associated
with lower levels of stress. Using a stratified random sample of secondary school
teachers from France n=487, RR =51%), Galand, Lecocq and Philippot (2007)
concluded that perceived school support from colleagues and school leadership
reduced the risk of exposure to pupil misbehaviour. Furthermore, supportive
principals and colleagues sustained emotional wellbeing and encouraged
professional engagement.
Naring, Briet and Brouwers (2006) conducted a study with a random sample of
secondary school teachers from Holland (n=365, RR=36.5%), who were members of
the Dutch Association of Maths teachers. They found that more support was
positively related to perceived personal accomplishment. As indicated in section
5.1.4. on emotional demands, Sarros and Sarros (1992), using a questionnaire with
a random sample of 550 secondary school teachers in Australia, reported that the
principal’s support was associated with a heightened sense of personal
accomplishment. The greater the support from principal and faculty head, the
lower the level of emotional exhaustion and burnout. The type of social support
seemed to be important; working in a supportive environment was associated with
lower levels of stress and burnout, but the individual support of colleagues,
through giving their time and emotional support, heightened burnout. The authors
suggested that this individual support might have had the effect of spreading a
negative culture in the school. Day and Gu (2007) reporting on aspects of the
longitudinal Vitae project, referred to in Section 6.1.2 above, also observed that
support from headteachers and other colleagues helped teachers to sustain
commitment and through this their effectiveness.

31
In a qualitative study, where 40 UK teachers were interviewed, Brown and Ralph
(2002) observed that lack of support was regarded as stressful. Day and Kington
(2008) conducted a longitudinal interview study with about 300 primary and
secondary teachers in England and found that key positive factors associated with
perceived effectiveness and resilience were school/departmental leadership,
supportive colleagues and family.
Job satisfaction has also been linked to social support and school management by
Stockard and Lehman (2004) using a longitudinal study, with a sample of 379
teachers in their first year of teaching.

7.3.3 Relationships and Isolation


UK wellbeing surveys (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002; Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004)
have found links between stress levels and relationships with colleagues. Dunlop
and MacDonald (2004) observed that one of the most frequently mentioned job
stresses was relationships with colleagues, headteachers, parents, governors and
inspectors.
In their interviews with teachers, Brown and Ralph (2002) found that breakdowns
in working relationships between colleagues, relationships with parents (parents
often held teachers in low esteem and had unrealistic expectations) and the wider
community (biased media coverage of educational issues) were major causes of
teacher stress. On the other hand, the Canadian study by Butt and Retallick (2002)
found that where these relationships were positive they supported teacher
wellbeing. Trendall (1988) obtained similar results using a cross-sectional
approach, with questionnaires to 237 teachers across primary and secondary
schools in one LEA. She found that staff were most able to cope with stress where
there were positive relationships between teachers in departments and between
teachers and pupils.
The subject of isolation was raised only rarely, and may be related to difficulties
in social support and relationships. Brown and Ralph (2002), investigating teachers'
stress and school improvement over 2 academic years (1997/98 and 1998/99)
using focussed interviews observed that breakdowns in working relationships
between colleagues led to feelings of isolation and even alienation. Pillay,
Goddard and Wilss (2005) using a questionnaire with 157 Australian teachers,
reported a negative relationship between depersonalisation and competence.
They suggested that teachers were using a distancing mechanism to minimise a
sense of incompetence resulting from difficult interactions with pupils and that
reducing feelings of isolation as well as increasing self esteem could alleviate this
situation.

7.3.4 Leadership and Management


Supportive leadership and management have been reported as important in
teacher wellbeing measures by a number of authors.
Descriptive surveys have suggested that school management and leadership is a
major stressor (Davies, 2007; NASUWT, 2005; Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004), and a
quantitative correlation study in one Local Authority in England (Trendall, 1988)
found that poor management and poor relations with the head and senior staff

32
were linked with higher stress levels, and that quality of leadership was an
important factor. Day et al. (2006) in a large-scale longitudinal study observed
declining commitment among teachers; the most frequently cited causes of this
included poor leadership (58%).
Brown and Ralph (2002) investigated teachers’ stress over 2 academic years
(1997/98 and 1998/99) using focussed interviews and found that perceived
problems in school management and administration (poor levels of
communication, lack of support and resources) were regarded as stressful by
teachers. They concluded that there was a need for a democratic distributed
leadership style to empower staff and promote welfare of staff and students.
But where management has been supportive there has been evidence to show
some reduction in stress and improved teacher satisfaction. Dunlop and
MacDonald (2004) claimed that
The headteacher’s role in being approachable, offering sympathy and
emotional support for teachers, and adopting a collegiate approach to
proactive engagement with staff, was perceived as important by teachers.
(p. 72)
In two studies of primary schools in Arizona and Florida, Anderman, VanderStoep
and Midgley (1994) explored the relationship between school leadership
behaviour, school culture and teacher commitment. They found that school
leadership behaviour is a strong predictor of school culture and that school culture
is a strong predictor of teacher commitment. Similar results were obtained in both
studies which highlighted the importance of school leadership in creating a
positive school culture where teachers feel committed.
Van Dick and Wagner (2001) undertook two studies in different geographical areas
of Germany with teachers from primary, secondary, high and special schools. The
first study involved 356 teachers and the second 201 teachers; the authors did not
report the numbers of teachers in each of the school sectors. They found that the
negative impact of stress could be buffered through self-efficacy, support and
appropriate coping strategies, and noted that
...the positive influence of principal support has political impact: if the
school principal has a key function in mediating between teachers’ needs
and demands of the educational system which often are unavoidably
stressful, he or she should be well prepared to fit this role. (p.256)
As noted in section 6.3.2 Aelterman et al. (2007), who looked directly at the
factors affecting teacher wellbeing in Belgium, found the extent to which
teachers were supported by their headteachers had a significant influence on
general wellbeing. Teachers who felt that they were supported by their
headteacher had a more positive experience of their relationships with
colleagues. This research showed that such support had a positive influence on
teachers’ self-efficacy, and that self-efficacy had the most important and direct
influence on a teacher’s sense of professional wellbeing.
Using an ethnographic approach Butt and Retallick (2002) examined the effects of
different aspects of management style on professional wellbeing of teachers.
Twenty-nine Canadian teachers used autobiographical writings to express a variety
of feelings with regard to their work lives and to reflect upon why they felt that

33
way. The overall theme identified was one of good relationships (collegiality)
contrasting with those characterised by separation between administrators and
teachers (professional isolation). A key factor was the administrator’s attitude
towards power; in positive relations it was seen as authoritative rather than
authoritarian. Administrators could create a positive organisational climate
through encouragement and support, thereby demonstrating trust and respect
with recognition of teachers’ autonomy, abilities and expertise. The researchers
concluded that a positive sense of professional health and wellbeing is related to
such feelings of trust, respect, autonomy and efficacy as a teacher.
Clearly the issues of school management and, in particular, leadership have been
regarded as likely to be important in improving teacher wellbeing and, as will be
seen later, have also been linked to school effectiveness. Day et al. (2007) are
conducting a three-year study (due for publication in April 2009), commissioned by
the Department for Children, Schools and Families in conjunction with the
National College of School Leadership, and focussing on the critical relationship
between school leadership, in particular headteacher leadership, and pupil
learning outcomes. The relationship between teacher wellbeing and school
effectiveness will be considered in Section 6.9.

7.3.5 Support, Reward and Respect


Studies of health and wellbeing in general have recognised the importance of
rewards and respect at work, and their relationship with social support. Research
has found that a combination of high effort without appropriate reward appeared
to be stressful. Dame Carol Black’s review (2008) of the health of the UK’s
working age population found that employees were likely to have worse health if
there was an imbalance between effort and reward. In addition, Ferrie (2004)
reported evidence from the Whitehall II study, a large-scale questionnaire survey
of civil servants, suggesting those employees reporting high effort-reward
imbalances were at increased risk of heart disease and poor health.
Crucial to all social relationships is a sense of reciprocity. One way
relationships are likely to be a source of stress. (p. 10)
Reward has been conceived and measured in three different ways: esteem, career
opportunities including job security and promotion prospects, and financial
remuneration (Siegrist, 2002; Semner, 2006). Experiences of success at work have
been associated with wellbeing, and perceived appreciation has predicted
wellbeing. A better balance between the effort and reward structures may be
best achieved by improving rewards (rather than reducing efforts) by, for
instance, increasing praise or encouraging individual development, as well as
raising salaries (Ferrie, 2004). On the other hand, social support can sometimes
be regarded as a stressor if it does not communicate appreciation and empathy
(Semner, 2006).
There has been some research related specifically to teachers which has made
links between, on the one hand, stress and/or wellbeing and, on the other hand,
rewards or respect. Dunlop and Macdonald (2004) observed that those teachers
who had begun to feel more appreciated in their work as time went on became
less likely to view teaching as very stressful. Consistent with this, Webb et al.,
(2004) found that the decline in public respect for teachers, common to both

34
England and Finland, had become a major source of stress. Brown and Ralph
(2002) reported that the low esteem of parents and biased media coverage of
educational issues was perceived as an important source of stress among the
teachers they interviewed. Excessive societal expectations were reported to be a
stressor by Punch and Tuettemann (1996) but praise and recognition had positive
effects. Butt and Retallick (2002) concluded that a positive sense of professional
health and wellbeing is related to feelings of trust, respect, autonomy and
efficacy as a teacher.
Job satisfaction has also been linked to rewards and respect in a number of
studies of teachers. Scott, Cox and Dinham (1999) stated that the continuing
devaluing and criticism of the teaching service were among the most dissatisfying
factors. On the other hand, Chaplain (1995) observed that central to satisfaction
with professional performance was positive feedback from children. Sturmfels
(2006) noted in an Australian case study that staff linked job satisfaction with
positive feedback from students, parents and other teachers. These last two
studies collected data from primary school teachers only.
Two papers involving Australian teachers have referred specifically to the effort-
reward imbalance experienced by the teachers they surveyed. Goddard et al.
(2006), collected data longitudinally by questionnaire on 4 occasions during the
first 2 years of teaching for a small sample of beginning teachers. They observed
that increasing numbers of these teachers reported that the effort put into their
teaching was greater than rewards they received for it. A similar finding emerged
from a study by Pillay, Goddard and Wilss (2005), with a larger sample of
teachers, in which they found that almost half of the sample felt that the effort
they put in was greater than the rewards they got back.
More often authors have simply described the rewards and respect that teachers
felt were important, these have included: the satisfaction of working with
children, achieving valued outcomes, the intrinsic nature of the work, the respect
of society in general and of parents in particular. Webb et al. (2004) remarked
that primary teachers in both England and Finland
...found teaching a ‘rewarding job’ and the factors that made it rewarding
were predominantly related to the pleasure of watching children grow,
develop and make progress. (p.182)
In addition, using a questionnaire (n=196) they found that opportunities for
stimulation and creativity and making use of their own particular talents were
highly valued positive features of teaching in Finland. This was in marked
contrast, however, to views expressed by teachers in England who “mourned the
loss of their creativity and spontaneity”.
Pay has also been mentioned in several studies but opinions as to its importance
appear to be divided. Poppleton and Riseborough (1990) found that 69 % of their
stratified sample of 686 secondary school teachers from 20 schools in the North of
England responded positively to teaching as an occupation; the intrinsic nature of
the work mattered to them, but so also did the pay and job security. On the other
hand, Dunlop and Macdonald (2004) noted that
pay was an issue which was conspicuous by its absence from the list of
stressors offered by respondents. (p. 34)

35
Furthermore, Webb et al. (2004) distinguished different attitudes to pay in
England and Finland: while low pay was a disincentive in Finland it was not an
issue for teachers in England.

7.4 Change

7.4.1 Summary
There is limited evidence that organisational change may affect teacher stress
and satisfaction measures; however, the evidence is not strong as only a few
studies have been found and most of them suffer from methodological problems.
This lack of evidence may in part be due to information on the effects of change
being “buried” in research focussed on demands such as workload.

7.4.2 Organisational Change and Teachers


The research behind the HSE's Stress Management Standards identified change as
one of six particular stressors (MacKay et al., 2004). The research evidence
relating specifically to teachers is limited, but does suggest that organisational
change may affect their wellbeing through both stress and job satisfaction levels.
Organisational change has generally been found to be associated mainly with
increased stress (NASUWT, 2005; Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004;
PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002; Brown & Ralph, 2002; Forrester, 2000), but Scott,
Cox and Dinham (1999) found that change was also associated with increased
levels of dissatisfaction.
Wellbeing surveys involving teachers at all levels from Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland, found that, when asked to name sources of stress, teachers
included aspects of organisational change. In Northern Ireland, changes in the
curriculum and changes to the job were named by 51.1% and 40.4% of teachers
respectively (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002). In a more recent survey in Wales
13% of teachers identified new initiatives from the Welsh Government and 17%
named new initiatives from Local authorities (NASUWT, 2005). However, Dunlop
and Macdonald (2004) in Scotland found that “constant changes and new
procedures” were regarded as stressful by only 4.2% of the teachers in their
sample. These reports, although providing useful information, have not been
independently evaluated, and offer only simple descriptive accounts.
Two qualitative studies provide some support for the above survey findings: Brown
and Ralph (2002) investigated teachers’ stress and school improvement over two
academic years (1997/98 and 1998/99) using focussed interviews with 20 primary
and secondary teachers. The teachers indicated that the rate of change, too many
changes and lack of control were stressful, but unfortunately the question asked
(“In general, how stressful do you find being a teacher in this period of
continuous change?”) was leading, so this evidence is of limited value. There is,
however, further supporting evidence from a case study in one English Primary
school in 1998 where Forrester (2000) observed that accommodating change
caused high levels of anxiety and demoralisation among the staff.
The above findings are also supported by a large peer-reviewed survey with a
random sample of 609 teachers from England (Scott et al., 1999). Satisfaction

36
with teaching was measured through a self-report questionnaire and an open-
ended question invited further comments about teaching. These findings
suggested that the pace of educational change was one of the most dissatisfying
aspects of teaching.

7.5 Role

7.5.1 Summary
Role ambiguity might have some relevance to teacher wellbeing but there is very
little evidence to support this view. In addition, the only research studies found
all suffered from methodological problems: the wellbeing survey did not define
terms and the two peer-reviewed surveys had non-random unrepresentative
samples.

7.5.2 Evidence on Role Ambiguity


The London Wellbeing Programme (Worklife Support Ltd, 2006) asserted that
teacher wellbeing was inhibited by role strain, but the term was not defined. This
evidence came from a large cross-sectional survey of all staff in a non-random
sample of London schools.
Beyond the UK, a study of teachers in the Netherlands found that having high
levels of control over their work could reduce the negative impact of role
ambiguity (Doef & Maes, 2002). The term role ambiguity was measured by a
rigorously tested large questionnaire. The sample of 593 secondary school
teachers was limited, however, to three non-randomly selected schools and so the
claims for generalisability have to be treated with caution.
An Australian study of beginning teachers observed a decline in role clarity over
the first two years of their teaching (Goddard et al., 2006), but did not link this to
other factors. Role clarity was measured as part of a well established and reliable
questionnaire asking respondents about their working environment (Moos, 1994). A
strength of this study was its longitudinal nature, but with a very small and
unrepresentative sample. Both role clarity and role ambiguity measured the
extent to which teachers knew what to expect in their daily routine and how
clearly rules and policies were communicated.

7.6 Demographic variables

7.6.1 Gender
7.6.1.1 Summary
In relation to gender, a large panel survey across all types of employment has
shown that being male is negatively related to job satisfaction. Most research
investigating work stress, job satisfaction and wellbeing for teachers has also
found that males have lower job satisfaction, higher work stress and lower
wellbeing. The evidence includes wellbeing surveys involving large numbers of UK
teachers, as well as peer-reviewed studies investigating stress, burnout and

37
wellbeing using cross-sectional quantitative methods with large samples of
teachers from Malta, Australia and Belgium
A small number of studies, however, found conflicting results. One research study
has suggested that females suffered greater stress than males, but this
uncharacteristic result may be explained by the method of analysis used, since
other variables, such as age, were not considered. Two further studies noted that
age might be an important factor associated with gender: one finding that levels
of stress were higher for men during the first 10 years of teaching and for women
thereafter, and the other that older males were less satisfied than females of
similar age and experience, but younger less experienced males were more
satisfied than female counterparts. Both studies involved large samples of
teachers from England using multivariate analysis to take account of a variety of
contextual variables.
Three studies found no relationship between gender and work stress or job
satisfaction. Two of these might be explained in terms of their samples; one
consisted only of older teachers and the other only of beginning teachers.
However, no satisfactory explanation can be offered for the findings of the
remaining study, which had a reasonably large representative sample from English
schools, and used multivariate analysis. On a slightly different note, a large
research study in the UK found that women teachers were more positive about the
reward and respect status of the teaching profession than were men.
In summary, the weight of evidence suggests that male teachers generally may
have lower job satisfaction, higher work stress and lower wellbeing than females,
but that this may be reversed for younger male teachers.
7.6.1.2 Evidence on Gender Differences
Research into job satisfaction across all occupations, based on a large sample of
7365 employees in the 9th Wave of the British Household Panel Survey (Rose,
2003), concluded that being male was negatively related to job satisfaction.
Similarly, most research investigating work stress, job satisfaction and wellbeing
for teachers has found that males have lower job satisfaction, higher work stress
and lower wellbeing than women teachers.
A wellbeing survey in Scotland (Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004) found men to be
slightly more dissatisfied with their job, with 32.2% describing themselves as
either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with teaching compared to 28.3% of women.
These findings echoed those of a teacher wellbeing survey in Northern Ireland
where men were marginally less satisfied in their work (PricewaterhouseCoopers,
2002).
Peer-reviewed articles have reported similar findings, with men reporting higher
stress, less satisfaction, higher levels of burnout and lower wellbeing. Borg and
Riding (1991) investigated occupational stress and satisfaction in teaching using a
questionnaire with a sample of 545 Maltese secondary school teachers. They found
that male teachers reported greater stress and less satisfaction than females.
Sarros and Sarros (1992), using a questionnaire with a random sample of 550
secondary school teachers in Australia, found that generally, male teachers
reported higher levels of burnout.

38
Unusually, Tuettemann and Punch (1992) found stronger relationships between
distress and all other variables investigated (access to facilities, workload,
student misbehaviour and excessive societal expectations) for females than for
males. They used a survey method with a large sample of 574 Australian secondary
school teachers. They suggested that this may well indicate that female teachers
‘invest’ rather more of themselves in their teaching than do males, thus making
them more vulnerable to distress brought about by school related stressors.
However, this atypical finding might be connected with their method of analysis:
their conclusions were based on simple correlation data and comparisons between
males and females using chi squared tests, and did not take account of other
variables.
Other demographic factors, however, may also be important: Poppleton and
Riseborough (1990) compared job satisfaction across five countries in a large
survey and found that gender was a discriminating factor for job satisfaction in all
countries, and that women had higher satisfaction in the UK and USA, lower in
Japan and Singapore, and equal in West Germany. There might also be an
interaction between age or experience and gender. Chaplain (1995), who
investigated job satisfaction and stress for 267 primary teachers in England using a
questionnaire, observed that older males were less satisfied than females of
similar age and experience, whereas younger and less experienced males were
more satisfied. On the other hand, Poppleton and Riseborough (1990) observed
that levels of stress for secondary school teachers were higher for men during the
first 10 years of teaching and for women thereafter, suggesting that sector may
also be important. Aelterman et al. (2007) used a questionnaire with 2000
teachers from nursery, primary and secondary schools in Belgium to investigate
teacher wellbeing. They found that in elementary school level (primary and
nursery schools) female teachers had higher levels of wellbeing than men, but
that gender was not a factor for secondary school teachers. They suggested that
the underlying factors were age and sector rather than gender since, at
elementary level, the female teachers were significantly younger and there were
significantly more female nursery teachers. The research found that older
elementary school teachers had, on average, a lower sense of general wellbeing
than their younger counterparts and that nursery teachers had a had a higher
sense of general wellbeing than primary teachers. However, age is unlikely to be
the reason for differences observed in English Primary schools, since the
gender/age profiles across both sectors are remarkably similar (DCSF, 2008).
A few studies have failed to find a relationship between gender and work stress or
job satisfaction. Scott, Cox and Dinham (1999) reported that men and women did
not differ statistically on global measures of satisfaction. There does not seem to
be an obvious explanation for this unusual finding; their sample was
representative and relatively large, although the authors did express
disappointment in the low response rate of 26%, and the average age of the
teachers (42 years) could have been a factor.
Stockard and Lehman (2004) looked at satisfaction levels of beginning teachers in
the USA using a longitudinal design, and found that age, gender, race/ethnicity,
education and experience had no significant influence on satisfaction. On the
other hand, satisfaction was greatly influenced by support from others, control

39
over the work environment, mentoring received and the extent to which teachers
were successful in the classroom.
Kinnunen et al. (1994) examined the occupational wellbeing of 1012 older (over
45) Finnish teachers using a postal questionnaire. They found no significant
differences between males and females. As noted above, there is evidence of an
interaction between gender and age, and the focus of this study on older teachers
could explain its atypical results.
Explanations of gender differences are not well established, but possibilities have
been suggested by Stoeber and Rennert (2008) and Ma and McMillan (1999).
Stoeber and Rennert (2008) used a questionnaire with a fairly small sample of 118
German secondary teachers from 8 schools. They observed that gender was a
significant predictor of active coping strategies and that female teachers showed
higher levels of active coping than males. Active coping strategies are responses
designed to change the nature of the stressor itself or how one thinks about it, as
opposed to avoidant coping strategies such as withdrawal or alcohol use.
Generally speaking, active coping strategies are thought to be better ways to deal
with stressful events than avoidant coping strategies. In a secondary analysis of a
questionnaire with a very large sample (n=2202) of all elementary teachers in one
province of Canada, Ma and McMillan (1999) found that male teachers’ satisfaction
was much more influenced by the organisational culture of the school than that of
female teachers.

7.6.2 Sector
7.6.2.1 Summary
On balance, differences between sectors appear to be complex, and they seem
to depend on the location and organisation of education in the area. The higher
perceptions of self-efficacy and more positive views about rewards and respect
among primary teachers may perhaps relate to the issues of support, discussed in
Section 3.3.
7.6.2.2 Differences Between Sectors
Surveys have generally indicated that primary teachers are more satisfied with
their jobs than are secondary teachers (Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004; Scott et al.,
1999). However, Rose (2003) found that secondary teachers had higher job
satisfaction than primary and nursery teachers. His questionnaire was distinctive
in that it used a composite measure of overall job satisfaction that included
extrinsic aspects such as promotion, pay and job security, as well as those
intrinsic to the job.
Worklife Support (2007), in a descriptive survey, found that primary teachers were
likely to have better wellbeing than secondary teachers and Aelterman et al.
(2007), using a robust questionnaire with 2000 teachers from nursery, primary and
secondary schools in Belgium, found that wellbeing was highest among nursery
teachers, next for primary teachers and lowest for secondary teachers. They also
noted that self-efficacy scores were higher for primary than for secondary
teachers. In addition, a major UK study of teacher status, which included national
questionnaire surveys of teachers (2350 teachers in 2003 and 5340 teachers in
2006), found that primary teachers were more positive about the reward and

40
respect status of the teaching profession than were secondary teachers
(Hargreaves et al., 2007).
In contrast, research focussing on stress has tended to find that primary teachers
are more stressed than secondary teachers (Cropley et al., 1999; Trendall, 1988).
Both these surveys involved large samples of teachers, although from restricted
geographical areas; Griffiths et al. from South London schools and Trendall from
one LEA in South East England. On the other hand, the Northern Ireland Teachers’
health and wellbeing survey (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002) found no overall
differences between primary and secondary staff. But they noted that grammar
school staff suffered less stress and experienced far fewer threats of violence
from pupils than staff in other secondary schools. They did not give separate data
for non-grammar school secondary staff, but it is likely that they experience
greater stress than primary teachers and that the very low stress levels
experienced by grammar school teachers obscured this difference.

7.6.3 Age and experience


7.6.3.1 Summary
Most surveys found a relationship between the length of teachers’ service and
their job satisfaction, stress levels or wellbeing. Older or more experienced
teachers had lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of stress and lower overall
wellbeing. One longitudinal study, however, using an unrepresentative sample of
newly qualified teachers, did not find that age or experience had any influence on
job satisfaction.
The importance of experience rather than age was explored in a three year
longitudinal study in England. Professional life-phases have been regarded as a
more useful concept than age, taking account of mature entrants and “returners”
to the profession. Using this categorisation it was found that teachers in early or
middle career phases were more likely to retain resilience than those in late
career phases (24+ years as a teacher). Resilience was related to self-efficacy.
In summary, there is strong evidence to suggest that more experienced teachers
tend to have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of stress and lower overall
resilience and wellbeing.
7.6.3.2 Evidence on the effect of age and experience
Most surveys have found a relationship between the length of teachers’ service
and their job satisfaction rating. The London Wellbeing Pilot Programme (Worklife
Support Ltd, 2006) found that although teachers in their first year of teaching
rated their work very positively, teachers with more experience were less positive
and enthusiasm declined steadily with years of experience, reaching a low level
for teachers with 15 or more years of experience. Dunlop and MacDonald (2004)
found a similar relationship and noted that the largest proportion of teachers who
were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied were those with over 15 years of
experience.
Looking at stress rather than job satisfaction, Trendall (1988), investigating
teacher stress with a questionnaire to 237 teachers across primary and secondary
schools in one LEA, observed that being a teacher for longer might increase stress.

41
In contrast, Sarros and Sarros (1992) found that younger teachers reported higher
levels of burnout in their survey of 550 secondary school teachers in Australia.
Wellbeing also seems to be affected by age or experience. According to Aelterman
et al. (2007), who used a very large sample of 2000 teachers from nursery,
primary and secondary schools in Belgium, age (or years of experience) was an
important predictor of wellbeing: older teachers had a lower sense of wellbeing
than younger teachers. Kinnunen et al. (1994) found that age was more important
than gender in producing wellbeing differences: 45-49 year olds had higher levels
of wellbeing than 55-59 year olds, but the authors noted that this could be partly
because of the health dimension in the aging population.
As noted in Section 6.6.1.2 there appears to be some interaction between age or
years of experience and gender. Chaplain (1995) investigated job satisfaction and
stress in a sample of 267 primary teachers in England using a questionnaire. He
found that older males are less satisfied than females of similar age and
experience but younger and less experienced males were more satisfied.
Poppleton and Riseborough (1990) found that the highest levels of satisfaction
were shown by those teaching for less than 5 years, declining the longer the
teacher had remained at the same school. Interaction occurred for stress: levels
of stress were higher for men during the first 10 years of teaching and for women
thereafter.
Two studies of beginning teachers reach different conclusions about the effect of
experience. Stockard and Lehman (2004), using a longitudinal design (a panel
study over 3 years using a sample of 379 newly qualified teachers), found that age
and experience had no significant influence on the teachers' satisfaction with their
choice of career, but since all the teachers in the study were inexperienced
beginning teachers this might simply reflect the importance of experience in
career decisions. Goddard et al. (2006) collected data for burnout, work climate
and support, role orientation, autonomy, involvement and work pressure
longitudinally by questionnaire on 4 occasions during the first 2 years of teaching
for a sample of 79 beginning teachers in Australia. They found that, for the most
part, favourable perceptions of the work environment declined over the first two
years of teaching. This small study echoes the findings of the much larger survey
by Worklife Support (2006).
The importance of experience rather than age was explored in the Vitae project
(Day et al., 2006). This was a longitudinal study including data generated using
two in-depth interviews with 295 primary and secondary teachers in each of three
years of data collection. Rather than focussing on age they felt that the concept
of professional life-phases was a more useful, taking account of mature entrants
and “returners” to the profession. Six professional life phases, relating to
experience, rather than age or responsibilities, were identified:
• 0-3 years – Commitment: support and challenge.
• 4-7 years – Identity and efficacy in the classroom.
• 8-15 years – Managing changes in role and identity: growing tensions and
transitions.
• 16-23 years – Work-life tensions: challenges to motivation and
commitment.
• 24-30 years – Challenges to sustaining motivation.

42
• 31+ years – Sustaining/declining motivation, coping with change, looking
to retire.
They found that teachers in early or middle career phases were more likely to
retain resilience than those in late career phases (24+ years). Resilience was
defined as:
The ability of an individual to withstand or recover quickly from difficult
conditions related to self-efficacy. (Day et al., 2006, p. 50)

7.7 Comparisons between the wellbeing of teachers and other


groups

7.7.1 Summary
There is strong evidence from survey research comparing stress levels for
different occupations to indicate that teachers are among those professions with
the highest levels of stress and with the highest mental health problems However,
there does not seem to be any similar evidence comparing wellbeing across
professions.
Two surveys have compared wellbeing among teachers and other groups and
found differences. One small-scale action research study explored the
occupational wellbeing of teachers and occupational health nurses in Finland and
observed that a particular psychological stress factor for teachers was the
general loneliness of work. In a similar vein, a cross-sectional quantitative survey
compared the occupational health of nurses, teachers and cabin crew in Iceland,
using a large, random population sample. They observed high levels of stress and
exhaustion among teachers and suggested that professional isolation of teachers
might contribute to this. Thus, there is some, quite limited evidence to suggest
that isolation may be a specific stressor for teachers.
There are contentions that teachers have to deal with other stressors that most
other professions do not face: these include high levels of long-term
responsibility for children’s lives, and high levels of emotional labour (emotional
demands). Responsibility for children was identified as a particular feature of
teachers’ work by a fifth of teachers in one survey, using a large sample of
teachers in the UK. In another quantitative cross-sectional study, emotional labour
has been shown to have a unique relationship with burnout for teachers. These
studies comprise the very limited evidence concerning responsibility and
emotional labour in the context of teacher wellbeing.
Some research has explored differences between England and other countries
using survey methods. Evidence from two peer-reviewed surveys suggested that
teachers in England have lower job satisfaction and higher stress than those in
other European countries. However, case study research in England and Finland
found no difference between the two countries in terms of the major stressors.
Few conclusions can be drawn from such limited evidence.

7.7.2 Comparing different professions

43
The stress literature indicates that teachers are among those professions with the
highest levels of stress (see for example, Blaug, Kenyon, & Lekhi, 2007; Smith,
Johal, Wadsworth, Davey Smith, & Peters, 2000a, 2000b; Rose, 2003) and that
teachers are one of the groups with the highest rates of mental health problems
(Black, 2008; Seymour & Grove, 2005). However, none of these papers indicate
possible reasons for these differences and there does not seem to be any similar
evidence comparing wellbeing across professions.
There are contentions that teachers have to deal with some specific stressors that
most other professions do not face: these include very high levels of long-term
responsibility for children’s lives, isolation during their working day and high
levels of emotional labour (emotional demands).
The responsibility of being a teacher was raised in the Teacher Status Project
(Hargreaves et al., 2007). In this UK study of teacher status, which included
national questionnaire surveys of large samples of teachers in 2003 and 2006,
teachers were asked to name the three things that first came to mind when they
thought about the activity of teaching. The second most common response was
“responsibility for children”: 20% of the respondents named responsibility as a
positive feature of their work while 22% regarded it as a negative feature. Clearly,
those teachers perceived responsibility for children as being part of their
professional identity, and as Day et al. (2006) have observed a teacher’s sense of
professional identity is a major contributing factor to wellbeing and effectiveness
as a teacher.
Several papers comparing of aspects of teacher wellbeing with other groups have
suggested that professional isolation may be a particular contributory factor for
teachers in comparison with other occupations. In a small-scale action research
study to explore the occupational wellbeing of teachers and occupational health
nurses in 12 school communities in Finland, data were gathered from 66 school
staff and 12 occupational health nurses (Saaranen, Tossavainen, Turunen, &
Vertio, 2006). They compared teaching staff and occupational health nurses in one
area of Finland and observed that different factors contributed to the wellbeing of
each group; a particular psychological stress factor for teachers was the general
loneliness of work. In a similar vein, Sveinsdottir et al. (2007) compared the
occupational health of nurses, teachers and cabin crew in Iceland, and found that
cabin crew and teachers experienced worse symptoms of stress and exhaustion
than nurses, and that nurses reported more cooperation with their co-workers.
They suggested that the daily teamwork of nurses with others may serve as a
buffer against stress and exhaustion. In addition, they suggested that professional
isolation might contribute to the high levels of stress and exhaustion that they had
observed among teachers.

7.7.3 Comparing teachers from different countries


A number of researchers have used survey techniques to explore the differences
between English teachers and those in other countries for a variety of wellbeing
measures. In general, this research has focussed on identifying rather than
explaining these differences. All these studies involved teachers in England rather
than across the UK and that no research was found exploring whether there are
differences in wellbeing among teachers in different parts of the UK.

44
Menlo and Poppleton (1990) studied the work perceptions of secondary school
teachers in England, the USA, Japan, Singapore and West Germany. The survey
data (Poppleton, 1990) suggested that teachers in England had lower job
satisfaction than all but Japanese teachers, and the highest levels of stress.
The EUROTEACH project (Verhoeven et al., 2003) compared teachers across
Europe and found that teachers from Western Europe (including Belgium, England,
Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Switzerland) had low levels of
personal accomplishment and job satisfaction in comparison to teachers from
Eastern and Southern Europe. Griva and Joekes (2003), focussing on teachers from
England in comparison with teachers from the other European countries
mentioned above observed that teachers in England worked longer hours and
perceived more job demands and lower work control, as well as reporting lower
levels of job satisfaction than their European counterparts.
Webb et al. (2004), using a case study approach, compared primary school
teachers in England and Finland. Work intensification, deteriorating pupil
behaviour and decline in public respect for teachers were the most important
factors for teachers in both countries. Low pay was a disincentive for teachers in
Finland although not at issue for teachers in England. In Finland teachers found
that opportunities to use their own particular creative talents were highly valued
as positive features of teaching; their perceptions were in marked contrast to
those of teachers in England who mourned their loss of creativity and spontaneity.
On the other hand, in both countries the teachers found teaching a rewarding job.

7.8 Interventions

7.8.1 Summary
Several systematic reviews have evaluated the evidence on workplace
intervention strategies for the general workforce. These reviews have focussed on
mental health and stress, although recently one has focussed on workplace
intervention strategies for mental wellbeing. Evidence specific to teachers is more
limited. There are some small studies that have examined workplace interventions
for teachers in schools, but each has focussed on one particular type of
intervention rather than presenting an overview of interventions.
Interventions strategies aimed at workplace stress have been categorised as
Primary (to prevent work-related stress arising and targeting the employee, the
job or the interface between worker and workplace); Secondary (to minimise the
impact of stress and diminish the seriousness of its consequences, focussing on the
individual worker); or Tertiary (identifying and treating ill effects of stress and
rehabilitating individuals to enable a swift return to work). Stress intervention
strategies have focussed mainly on secondary and tertiary management
techniques. One review, focussing on mental health interventions, found that
individual interventions were the most effective, but those focussing on job-
related stress find that organisational interventions were most effective.
Wellbeing surveys have described teachers’ views about occupational health
services, employee assistance programmes, counselling services, wellbeing and
stress audits and confidential helplines. A few peer reviewed academic studies

45
have examined specific workplace interventions for teachers, but there is no
overview of all the interventions.
Occupational health services have rarely been used by teachers: two wellbeing
surveys showed under 2% of teachers using such services, a research study found
that just 16% of teachers who took ill-health retirement had access to
occupational health advisors and only 11% of these attended occupational health
services before retirement. Possible reasons for low service take-up included:
concern about confidentiality of local authority services, possible stigmatisation,
adverse consequences for promotion and links between employers’ support
services and sickness absence statistics.
Two research studies found teachers’ ill-health retirement was most commonly
caused by mental health problems. However, a recent review suggests
occupational healthcare workers have less knowledge of mental than of physical
health problems and are less well equipped to detect and advise about their
management.
Two reviews of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) have noted greatly
increasing use of them by employers. This suggests EAPs are now among the main
occupational stress interventions. Teacher wellbeing surveys showed all Local
Authorities providing EAPs or other counselling for staff, although not specifically
for teachers; the take-up of these services by teachers has been low. Low take-up
might be attributed to lack of awareness. One programme raised awareness of the
EAP and its benefits in schools, and claimed that the take-up became a little
higher than the national utilisation rate. One review concluded that while EAPs
might benefit individuals and reduce sickness absence, they were unlikely to be
effective enough to counter organisations’ problems of stressful work
environments. The other review found no evidence that workplace counselling
improves occupational outcomes.
Rather limited evidence from two programmes suggests they might have a useful
role in supporting teachers’ wellbeing. Longitudinal data from the Norfolk
programme showed increased awareness of wellbeing had made schools re-
examine their communications practice. However, improvements in areas of
support, reward and management communication were contrasted with worsening
workload levels, worklife balance, commitment and health (physical and mental).
More recent data indicates 80% of Norfolk Council’s schools are now involved in
the Well-being Programme and there has been a considerable fall in stress-related
sickness absence since its inception. The London Well-being Pilot Programme
reported improvements in culture, demands, control, relationships, change, role,
support and personal for the schools involved, but it is unclear whether similar
groups were compared in both years of data collection. Nevertheless, the
reduction in sickness absence over the two years suggests a positive effect. In
summary, these programmes, with their holistic approach, might have a useful
role to play in supporting teachers’ wellbeing, but the evidence is rather limited
at the moment.
Three large-scale surveys in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland found that
teachers responded positively to the idea of a confidential help-line, with the
strongest response from teachers in Wales. As yet, however, there is no body of
systematic evaluations of such help lines.

46
The evidence suggests that the majority of intervention strategies available to
teachers are tertiary, and so less likely to be able to counter the problems of
stressful work environments. Wellbeing programmes provide schools with a
primary intervention management technique, but evidence on their effectiveness
is still limited. Three large reports presenting the business case for wellbeing
interventions have been published, but are not specific to teachers. The evidence
appears to show a clear case for the cost benefits value of intervention. However,
none of the interventions are unambiguously shown to be the cause of reduced
absenteeism and cost benefits, even though they are associated with such
benefits.

7.8.2 Studies on Workplace Interventions for the General Workforce


In a systematic review of the global literature in English, Seymour and Grove
(2005) examined workplace interventions for people with common mental health
problems. This review was updated to include literature published between 2004
and 2007 by Aylward et al. (2007). In the same year Blaug et al. (2007) reviewed
at workplace interventions and strategies for the management of stress, while
LaMontagne et al. (2007) published a systematic review of the international job-
stress intervention literature between 1990 and 2005. Very recently, the Foresight
Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008) has shifted the focus slightly by
reviewing workplace intervention strategies for mental wellbeing.
Key findings from a review of work place interventions for people with common
mental health problems by Seymour and Grove (2005) were grouped under the
headings of prevention, retention and rehabilitation. The evidence on prevention
suggested that a range of stress management interventions could have a beneficial
and practical impact. These interventions seemed to provide employees with
useful skills to aid both themselves and their organisations, but the extent to
which they prevented common mental health problems was unclear. For job
retention of those deemed at to be at risk (but not already experiencing mental
health problems), the report found strong evidence that individual rather than
organisational approaches were likely to be most effective, with the most
effective programmes focussing on personal support, individual social skills and
coping skills training. For those already experiencing problems (both those still in
work or out of work) the review found evidence that the most effective approach
was brief individual therapy, in particular cognitive behavioural therapy.
However, the focus of intervention work remained on individuals or groups rather
than organisations, and the report found significant gaps in the evidence.
LaMontagne et al. (2007) reviewed the international job-stress intervention
evaluation literature from 1990 to 2005 using a systems approach where
interventions were defined as Primary, Secondary or Tertiary (see Figure 2).
Primary management strategies were defined as those intended to prevent work-
related stress arising, targeting the employee, the job or the interface between
the worker and the workplace. Secondary approaches were those attempting to
minimise the impact of stress and diminish the seriousness of its consequences,
focussing on the individual worker. Tertiary stress management strategies involved
identifying and treating the ill effects of stress once they had occurred, and
rehabilitating the individual to enable them to return to work as swiftly as
possible. The review concluded that the available evidence indicated that

47
organisationally-directed interventions appeared to be more effective than
individually-directed ones.

Figure 2: A Systems Approach to Job Stress (Source LaMontagne et al., 2007,


p. 269)
Aylward et al. (2007), using the same categorisation as La Montagne et al. (2007),
found that the focus of intervention work for workers with mental health
problems remained on individuals or groups rather than organisations. In an
analysis of the primary, secondary and tertiary strategies for stress management
Blaug et al. (2007) reached similar conclusions, reviewing many different
workplace interventions and providing a number of examples and case studies as
evidence. They concluded that stress intervention strategies have tended to focus
mainly on secondary and tertiary management techniques. They pointed to the
attempt by the HSE to shift the emphasis towards intervention strategies taken at
the organisational level, suggesting that, from the evidence in their review, these
were more likely to be successful than those which target only the individual.
The Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008) looked at scientific and
other evidence and considered the factors that influence mental development and
wellbeing. One of their key tasks was to identify and analyse possible
interventions that could help workers to enhance their wellbeing in the
workplace. They found moderate evidence to support the view that programmes
were effective when they were comprehensive and combined a range of
approaches addressing both individual and organisational factors, but there was
limited evidence to suggest that individual approaches rather than organisational
or organisational-development approaches were more useful in managing common
mental health problems.

48
The reports mentioned above suggested some particular strategies that might
offer benefits. These included:
• Primary strategies: health and wellbeing audits (Foresight), management
training (Seymour and Grove, Foresight), occupational health and safety
management standards (Blaug)
• Secondary strategies: counselling and EAPs, cognitive behaviour therapy
(Blaug, Foresight)
• Tertiary strategies: occupational health systems (Blaug, Seymour,
Foresight)
Lelliott et al. (2008) in a review of the mental health-related factors that
influence working life in Great Britain, referred to the potential success of
referrals to confidential telephone counselling sessions, but none of these reports
have mentioned the use of confidential helplines, such as that provided by
Teacher Support Network.
In summary, it seems that most interventions aimed at managing mental health,
stress and mental wellbeing have focused on individuals rather than on
organisations, but that a combination of individual and organisational approaches
is likely to be more effective.

7.8.3 Intervention Strategies and Teachers


Wellbeing surveys in Scotland and Wales, commissioned by Teacher Support
Network, have described teachers’ views about use of occupational health
services, employee assistance programmes and other counselling services,
confidential help-lines, wellbeing and stress audits and confidential helplines. In
addition, there are a few peer reviewed academic studies that examine workplace
interventions used by teachers, and in schools; but each of these studies tends to
focus on one particular type of intervention and does not present an overview of
interventions.
7.8.3.1 Occupational Health Services
Bowers and McIver (2000) studied ill health retirement and absenteeism amongst
teachers in maintained schools in England between 1999 and 2000. They observed
that occupational health departments were used to inhibit absence, to prevent
absence and to ‘cure’ absence, but that in the minds of many headteachers, the
latter was the least prominent. Referral of a teacher to Occupational Health was
rarely triggered by duration or frequency of absence, but only used when earlier
in-school intervention had failed.
These authors also found that mental health problems constituted almost half of
all debilitating conditions leading to retirement. Brown, Gilmour and Macdonald
(2006) in a study of the return to work after ill-health retirement in
Scottish NHS staff and teachers found that occupational health services did not
appear to have been used much by teachers: 96% of NHS staff but only 16% of
teachers who took ill-health retirement said that they had access to an
occupational health advisor and ninety two per cent of NHS staff but only 11% of
teachers attended occupational health services prior to retirement. This study
also observed, as do many others, that the most common cause of ill-health
retirement was musculoskeletal disorders for NHS staff and mental disorders for

49
teachers. In view of a recent finding that occupational healthcare workers are less
well equipped to detect and advise about the management of mental health
problems than of physical health problems (Lelliott et al., 2008), this is not
surprising.
The teachers’ health and wellbeing survey in Scotland (Dunlop & Macdonald, 2004)
found that 98.2% of respondents had never used a local authority support service.
But of those teachers who had accessed the service, 61% had found it helpful.
Teachers were concerned about confidentiality of the local authority support
services, possible stigmatisation, adverse consequences for promotion and the
perceived link between the employer-provided support services and sickness
absence statistics. In the Welsh wellbeing survey (Davies, 2007), none of the
respondents had used the occupational health service provided by the local
authority. Over half the respondents were ambivalent when asked whether they
would use their local authority's support services if suffering from a stress-related
problem. The author wonders if some of this ambivalence is part of the stigma
teachers feel in seeking help from the local authority and also notes that reducing
sickness absence seemed to be one of the key foci of occupational health services.
7.8.3.2 Employee assistance programmes and counselling services
An employee assistance programme (EAP) is defined by the Employee Assistance
Programme Association as follows:
An EAP is a worksite-focussed programme to assist in the identification and
resolution of employee concerns, which affect, or may affect,
performance. Such employee concerns typically include, but are not limited
to:
• Personal matters - health, relationship, family, financial, emotional, legal,
anxiety, alcohol, drugs and other related issues.
• Work matters - work demands, fairness at work, working relationships,
harassment and bullying, personal and interpersonal skills, work/life
balance, stress and other related issues.
It includes a mechanism for providing counselling and other forms of
assistance, advice and information to employees on a systematic and
uniform basis, and to recognised standards. (Worklife Support website)
A large international review (Lelliott et al., 2008) noted that over the past twenty
years there has been a great increase in the number of employers using EAPs and
that many provide counselling. This review suggested that, in part, this has been
driven by legislation and the need to reduce the likelihood of litigation. Reference
is made to an Appeal Court ruling in 2002, which suggested that the provision of a
counselling service was likely to satisfy an employer’s duty of care in respect of
the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The authors
concluded that
...there is at best an absence of evidence that workplace counselling
improves occupational outcomes. (p. 28)
Arthur (2000) described and reviewed the effectiveness of employee assistance
programmes; he found counselling services and stress management techniques
could benefit individuals, but would not impact on the organisation beyond a

50
reduction in sickness absence. He concluded that EAPs had a role to play in
supporting employees who experience or may experience symptoms of
psychological distress, but they must be part of wider organisational strategies
since they were not in themselves effective enough to counter the problems of
stressful work environments.
The wellbeing survey in Wales found that while none of the authorities provided
an EAP, all provided a confidential counselling service to which staff can self-
refer. Some of the services were provided in-house while others were outsourced
to commercial providers and none of the services were specific to teachers. In
Scotland, all 32 councils reported having some form of counselling services
available to teachers, but in no case was this service specific to teachers. In 26 of
the Scottish authorities, EAPs were offered by commercial providers while the
remaining six provided some form of in-house counselling for teachers and other
staff. In three authorities, staff could self-refer and in these cases teachers were
more likely to view counselling as discrete from the Occupational Health services
and as safeguarding confidentiality for the service users. The self-referral system
ensured that local authorities were unaware of which staff members were
accessing the counselling service.
All staff in schools on the London Well-being Pilot Programme (Worklife Support
Ltd, 2006) were given access to the WLS Employee Assistance Programme (EAP),
which provided a confidential, individual service to every member of staff in
participating organisations, as well as to their families. Analysis found that just
over 6% of staff had used the service during the two year course of the pilot,
which Worklife Support claim to be a little higher than the national EAP utilisation
rate. This higher utilisation rate in London was probably due to Worklife Support’s
focus on raising greater awareness of the EAP and its benefits in schools.
In summary, there is some limited evidence that teachers lack awareness of EAP
and counselling services available to them and that take-up of such services is
low, while no research evidence was found assessing the effectiveness of such
support.
7.8.3.3 Teacher wellbeing programmes
The first Well-Being Programme began in Norfolk in 1998 and participation was
voluntary. An evaluation of this pilot by Opinion Leader Research in 2002
indicated that the majority of headteachers surveyed rated school culture, staff
performance, school effectiveness, communication between staff and morale as
better or much better since joining the Well-Being Programme. Two reports on
the Norfolk Staff Well-being Project by Rumsby (2001) included two surveys (in
2000 and 2001) of all school staff in participating schools. Over 600 staff from 25
schools completed both initial and follow-up surveys, providing some longitudinal
data. This longitudinal data showed an increased awareness of wellbeing had
made schools re-examine their communications practice. There was improvement
in some areas but others had worsened. Areas showing improvement were:
resourcing, support, career development, rewards and management
communications. However, areas showing a decline were: workload (getting
heavier), work-life balance, commitment and health (physical and mental). In a
qualitative evaluation of the Norfolk Staff Well-being Programme, Phillips (2001)
suggested that although there were some residual problems, there were

51
indications that this programme was having some success. In 2006, Worklife
Support reported that over 80% of Norfolk County Council’s schools were by then
taking part in the Well-being Programme and that there had been a noticeable fall
in the numbers of staff taking stress-related sickness absence between 2003 and
2004. However, there is no definitive evidence to show whether the Well-being
Programme was the cause of this reduction in sickness absence.
The London Well-being Pilot Programme (Worklife Support Ltd, 2006) consisted of
two complementary programmes: the Well-Being Programme and the Employee
Assistance Programme (EAP), and school participation was voluntary. It was a
large study including two separate surveys, 18 months apart, of all school staff
involved in the programme, plus a separate questionnaire to headteachers. In
addition, telephone interviews with a 10 % sample of the headteachers and 4
focus groups interviews, with a total of 21 facilitators, were undertaken.
In the first year 346 schools and 13,424 staff took part, but in the second year this
fell to 199 schools and 6044 staff. Unfortunately it is unclear whether any analysis
was undertaken of responses from the same people in both years, and so the data
collected cannot be used to demonstrate changes over the course of the
programme. The very great difference in the size of the samples in years 1 and 2
leads inevitably to two questions: why did over 50 % of the sample not take part in
the second year and had their views about wellbeing issues changed during this
time? So although the report indicates positive changes over the time, these
findings must be regarded with caution because they are comparing two different
groups. Furthermore, since all the organisations taking part had already decided
that it was worth being involved, they cannot be treated as an unbiased sample.
The report stated that for the schools involved in the programme wellbeing
improved for all 8 factors (culture, demands, control, relationships, change, role,
support and personal), but was least improved for teaching staff and most
improved for managers. Wellbeing was inhibited by role strain, work overload, the
long hours’ culture and lack of consultation. On the other hand, teachers valued
the support of colleagues.
Sickness absence fell for schools in the programme, but not for schools outside it.
Between 2003 and 2004, in primary schools within the Well-Being Programme
sickness absence fell by 33 %, saving each school an average of £2,981 and in
contrast with those not joining the programme where absence increased by 15%.
In the same period, sickness absence fell by 36% in secondary schools that joined
the programme, saving each school an average of £11,025, but fell by only 5% over
the same period in secondary schools that had not joined the programme. This
evidence does not look at differences in sickness absence between these two
groups prior to the introduction of the Well-being Programme and because schools
self selected into the Programme no conclusions can be drawn about the cause of
the reduction in sickness absence: this change might have been due to the
introduction of the Well-being Programme or to other factors that were different
for schools joining the programme (for example, having a more proactive response
to staff wellbeing issues in general).
In summary, the evidence provided in these reports suggests that these
programmes, with their holistic approach, might have a useful role to play in
supporting teachers’ wellbeing, but the evidence is limited at the moment.

52
7.8.3.4 Confidential help-lines
Large-scale surveys around the UK (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have
found that teachers responded very positively to the idea of a confidential help-
line; however no work evaluating the effectiveness of phone-line support was
found.
In a survey of teachers in Scotland, respondents were asked to choose from a list
of nine interventions which they would like to be available to them (Dunlop &
Macdonald, 2004). The list included 'a confidential, free and independent
phoneline dedicated to Teachers'. Almost 57% of respondents had not tried but
were interested in using a helpline such as that provided by Teacher Support
Network to teachers in England. However, 41.4% of teachers said that they would
not be interested in using such a service. Respondents were also invited to offer
their own ideas of interventions. In all, 40 suggestions were made, but the idea of
a phoneline was suggested by only 6.6%. A survey of teachers in Wales (Davies,
2007) also asked the participants to choose from a list of 6 interventions including
'a confidential independent phone line'. The results showed that 77% of teachers
would be happy to use a confidential phone line. In a population survey with the
teaching workforce of Northern Ireland (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002), teachers
were offered five possible solutions for stress reduction and promoting a healthier
working environment, including 'a confidential free phone help line dedicated to
teachers'. Over one third (36.8%) of teachers stated that this would be helpful to
them. However, a further one-third (32.2%) had no opinion in relation to a
helpline.

7.8.4 Costs and benefits of intervention


A few large reports presenting the business case for wellbeing interventions have
been published although there does not appear to be anything specific to
teachers. Two cases studies have linked workplace health and wellbeing
interventions to reductions in the costs of absenteeism; one involved Somerset
County Council (Tasho, Jordan, & Robertson, 2005), the other studied the Post
Office (Marsden & Moriconi, 2008)).
PricewaterhouseCoopers (2008) evaluated the evidence from 55 organisations in
the UK (including 7 from the public sector and 2 from the education sector), which
had implemented a variety of wellness programmes and initiatives in recent years.
The intervention programmes used were categorised either as health and safety
and managing ill-health programmes, such as sickness absence management,
rehabilitation and return to work schemes, or as health promotion programmes,
which focussed on overall wellbeing, such as healthy diet and subsidised exercise
programmes. They concluded that the evidence from the literature review and
the case studies supported the idea that wellness programs have a positive impact
on business benefits.
Marsden and Moriconi (2008) calculated the value to Royal Mail Group of the cost
savings through reduced absence and analysed the long-term benefits of health
and wellbeing policies designed to tackle absence by examining a single business
unit of Royal Mail Group. They interrogated absence data, profitability, cost and
productivity measures, conducted extensive one-to-one interviews with key
personnel and analysed employee satisfaction survey data. They found a strong

53
link between both the organisation’s range of health and wellbeing and absence
policies and the reductions in absence. They also observed that reducing absence
had enabled both Royal Mail Group and its Parcelforce Worldwide business unit to
make significant cost savings.
A case study by Tasho, Jordan and Robertson (2005) described the processes and
interventions introduced by Somerset County Council to improve the wellbeing
and quality of working life of their employees, and to reduce workplace stress and
the level of sickness absence within the organisation. Evidence suggested that the
combined effect of their interventions had positively influenced sickness absence
rates during the three year period of study. Full-time equivalent (FTE) absence
levels fell from 10.75 days in 2001/02 to 8.29 days in 2003/04; this reduction
represented a total saving of £1.93 million over the period of study.
Unfortunately, absence data from the Education and Social Services Directorates
had to be excluded due to lack of availability and to its poor quality and
reporting.
The evidence from these studies seems to show a clear case for the cost benefits
of intervention. However, in none of the studies are interventions unambiguously
shown to be the cause of reduced absenteeism and cost benefits, but rather they
are associated with such benefits.

7.9 Teacher Wellbeing and School Effectiveness.

7.9.1 Summary
Although not able to claim causality, three studies have identified sound
relationships between teacher wellbeing and effectiveness. Two were large scale
cross-sectional surveys from the USA and Italy. The third, a UK report on school
leadership, based its conclusions on various sources of evidence including the
research literature, views of staff in 50 schools and Ofsted inspection reports.
A few less convincing longitudinal studies have also linked wellbeing and
effectiveness, but only two UK studies have provided any evidence indicating that
teacher wellbeing predicts effective student learning. One found a small but
significant relationship between teacher wellbeing and variance in SATs and
“value added” measures for their sample of schools. However, the nature of the
data did not permit the establishment of a clear causal link between teacher
wellbeing and pupil performance. The other found that teachers’ ability to
manage the interactions between commitment, agency, resilience, life-work
management and sense of wellbeing were crucial in determining their
effectiveness.
Two sound longitudinal studies from elsewhere support these findings: a 5 year
study in the USA found social welfare professionals’ wellbeing was significantly
related to job performance, and a Belgian survey found teachers with higher job
satisfaction gave more instructional support to their mathematics classes.
In summary, evidence that the level of teacher wellbeing influences school
effectiveness is not strong; few studies have been undertaken, even fewer
conducted in the UK, and some of the studies have significant methodological
limitations.

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7.9.2 The Relationship between Teacher Wellbeing and School Effectiveness
Three studies have found possible relationships between wellbeing and
effectiveness, but because of limitations in the methodology they are not able to
assign causality:
• Ostroff (1992) examined the links between teacher satisfaction, stress and
attitudes and a range of school performance indicators. Data were
collected from 13,808 teachers across 298 secondary schools in the USA.
She found a statistically significant relationship between job satisfaction
and performance but, because the study was not longitudinal, could not
assign causality, despite a suggested relationship between wellbeing and
effectiveness through job satisfaction.
• Caprara et al. (2006) used questionnaires in two consecutive years with a
large sample of over 2000 Italian teachers from 75 Italian junior high
schools to measure their self-efficacy beliefs and job satisfaction in each
of the two years. Students’ average final grades at the end of the two
years were the measure of academic achievement. Structural equation
modelling corroborated their conceptual model in which teachers’
personal efficacy beliefs affected their job satisfaction and their students’
academic achievements. However, since the outcome measures were
aggregates they cannot be linked to individual teachers, but they do show
that aggregated staff feelings of efficacy and satisfaction were linked to
overall academic achievements in the school.
• PricewaterhouseCoopers (2007), in a report on school leadership in the
UK, has suggested that leadership has an effect on teaching and learning
through an influence on staff motivation, commitment and working
conditions, and that this is second only to classroom teaching as an
influence on pupil learning. Their conclusions were based on: the
characteristics of effective leadership from the literature; Ofsted
inspection reports on outstanding schools and other published evaluations
of leadership models; and, from the 50 schools visited, the effective
features of leadership and the views on effective leadership from staff.
But their main evidence appears to come from the research literature.
Research from a different standpoint found that teachers with high levels of job
satisfaction gave more instructional support to their classes (Opdenakker & Van
Damme, 2006).This was a large-scale longitudinal survey, involving a
representative sample of 132 mathematics classes in Belgium, but since its focus
was on instructional support rather than on effective learning it may be of less
direct relevance to this review.
There are few longitudinal studies that link wellbeing and effectiveness, and only
two examples of UK research have been found to indicate that teacher wellbeing
predicts effective student learning.
Dewberry and Briner (2007) found a small but significant relationship between
teacher wellbeing and variance in SATs and “value added” measures for the
schools in their sample. The schools and staff involved were part of the London
Wellbeing Pilot and the wellbeing measures used were developed from Worklife
Support’s Organisational Self-Review Measure (OSRM), an online survey of staff
perceptions that provided the starting point for the Well-Being Programme. All

55
responses to the OSRM from teachers, and senior managers with teaching
qualifications, were aggregated for all of the respondents from each school.
However, the nature of the data available ensured it was not always possible to
establish clear causality between teacher wellbeing and pupil performance. In
addition, there might be other factors, not taken into account that could explain
the associations found. The authors also noted that because this study could not
clearly distinguish between the cause and the effect, it might be the case that it
is the improvements in school performance that have positive impacts on teacher
wellbeing rather than vice versa.
Day et al., (2006) linked teachers’ commitment and resilience to personal identity
and effectiveness (using SATs data) in a study of 300 teachers from primary and
secondary schools in England. They found that the success with which teachers
were able to manage the interactions between commitment, agency, resilience,
life-work management and sense of wellbeing were crucial in determining their
effectiveness (see Figure 3 below).

Figure 3: Factors Moderating Teachers' Effectiveness (source: James & Pollard,


2006, p. 46)
In analogous research with 60 social welfare professionals in the USA, Cropanzo
and Wright (1999), in a sound 5-year longitudinal study found that employee
wellbeing was significantly related to job performance, with some evidence of
causality. They recommended organisational intervention to improve wellbeing.

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9. INTERVIEWS WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS

8.1 Introduction

Thirty one interviews have been held with a range of key stakeholders and experts
to gain access to their tacit knowledge. The interviewees include those with:
• Active involvement in Teacher Support Network, TSC and TSS as staff or
Board members.
• Active involvement the development of activities to support teachers.
• Experience of research in this or related fields.
• Responsibility for the wellbeing of teachers as employees or union
members.
• Responsibility for policy relating to the wellbeing of teachers.
Interviewees were drawn from the Teacher Support Network Group (the English
charity, TSC, TSS, Worklife Support and LTL Connect), non-governmental
organisations (NGOs), academic institutions, government and local authorities. For
more detail see Appendix 3.
The interview aspect of the study was not designed as a systematic survey into the
views of a population with experience in the field. The intention has been to use
the interviews as a general source of data about how those working in the field
make sense of it.

8.2 Defining Wellbeing and the Nature of Teacher Wellbeing

There was variation in the meanings attached to wellbeing reflecting both life
(non-work) and work/job-related issues. The majority of respondents included a
specifically occupational definition. For example:
Being healthy physically and mentally outside the workplace is not a
sufficient definition; it needs to include the workplace too. The workplace
factors are about being able to have a sense of vision about your
contribution to the organisation, how you are contributing to pupils’
achievements, how you contribute to the school as a whole. (NGO5)
A minority of respondents felt that teacher wellbeing should not be seen as
different from wellbeing in general. For example:
It isn’t just for teachers, it’s wellbeing for everyone: it means that people
are satisfied with their work, they feel appreciated and that they feel that
each day has been worthwhile. (TSN3)
Most referred to occupational factors impinging upon teacher wellbeing and only a
few linked it with teachers’ personalities or non-work circumstances. This
suggests a view that a focus on personal factors might be less useful than one on
occupational and organisational features. These responses add weight to our view
that the emphasis of this work for Teacher Support Network should be on
teachers’ occupational wellbeing.

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8.3 Factors Affecting Teacher Wellbeing

8.3.1 Overview
When stakeholders were asked what factors might impinge upon teachers’
wellbeing a very wide range of factors were mentioned. The majority were
consistent with the definitions used within the HSE Management Standards or
those used by Worklife Support in their wellbeing programme, i.e. Culture,
Demands, Control, Support, Relationships, Role, and Change. However, not
everyone referred directly to the Management Standards; 14 respondents made
specific reference to them, and the terms “Demand” and “Control” were not
much used, although “Support” was often mentioned. Some respondents from
every sector (academic, NGO, Union, Local Government, and Teacher Support
Network) made reference to the standards and no particular group seemed more
or less aware of them. Although the terminology used did not always match that
of the standards, their role was probably quite well understood by all the
stakeholders and the paucity of references to them does not necessarily indicate a
lack of support. It may suggest, however, that they were not particularly salient
aspects of respondents’ thinking.

8.3.2 Demands
Most of the respondents recognised workload and pupil behaviour as demands on
teachers, but few made explicit links with the general concept of demand or
linked it to management. Those who did make this link were not associated with
any one specific group more than any another.
Overall, 25 respondents identified various demands on teachers that affected
their wellbeing. Some of the respondents seemed aware that higher demands
were linked with higher levels of stress and that this might affect wellbeing.
8.3.2.1 Workload and pupil behaviour
Workload and pupil behaviour were widely recognised as factors impinging on
teachers’ wellbeing: 15 respondents mentioned pupil behaviour and 13 mentioned
workload. Not all groups focussed on the same issues:
• The main foci for Teacher Support Network representatives were workload
and pupil behaviour (8 out of 9 referred to workload and 7 out of 10 to
behaviour).
• Only one person from each of the groups from Unions, Local Authorities
and Government mentioned workload, although 5 of them talked about
pupil behaviour.
• Two academics and 2 NGOs referred to workload, and 2 academics and an
NGO spoke about pupil behaviour, but also referred in general terms to
“demands” (2 academics and 4 NGOs).
• One of the four union representatives and two members of Teacher
Support Network /TSC/TSS referred to the demands of management
affecting wellbeing.
• References generally to “demands” affecting teachers’ wellbeing were
made by 11 respondents.
• Others showed less awareness of the effect of demands in general and
instead referred to specifics.

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Other factors mentioned that could be construed as demands were: time pressures
(5 respondents) and pressure from parents (4 respondents).
8.3.2.2 Parental behaviour
Teachers have to deal with parents and this was seen by many stakeholders as a
particular cause of stress and likely to impact on wellbeing.
• Three academics referred to this pressure citing the often aggressive
behaviour of parents as stakeholders who put pressure on the teaching
profession.
• Two LA and one government stakeholder referred to parental pressure as
an inevitable fact of teaching.
• Two union representatives referred to complaints, allegations and
criticism and fear of violence from parents.
• Two TSC and one TSS representative spoke about parental pressures
referring to the interface with parents as being a necessary part of the job
in the light of great expectations on the part of parents, their confidence
in the school and its management, and bullying or harassment by parents.
8.3.2.3 Emotional demands
The emotional demands of teaching were discussed by a few respondents. Three
(two academics and one NGO involved in counselling) referred specifically to
“emotional labour”. Eight others, four representing Teacher Support Network,
spoke in more general terms about the emotional intensity and exhaustion of the
job. They characterised teaching as, for example:
• Emotionally exhausting (Union1)
• A draining job (Academic 4)
• Daylong interaction with young people (TSN2)
• The pressure of working with children without remission (TSS2)

8.3.3 Resources
The wellbeing issues associated with poor resourcing seemed to be quite well
understood by Teacher Support Network representatives (half of them made
specific reference to it) but less so by other groups, although union members did
refer to points similar to those made by Teacher Support Network representatives.
Resources were often linked with wellbeing; twelve people mentioned aspects of
resources that they felt impinged on teachers’ wellbeing.
• Three academics, two union and one government representative
mentioned funding and financial resources as general issues affecting
wellbeing. Lack of funding was linked to lower staff morale, limiting
educational opportunities for children and constraining the resources
necessary for teachers to use their professional competence to the full
and undertake a valuable breadth of activities.
• Five Teacher Support Network staff referred to issues of resources: three
linked resources to costs of sickness absence, phased return to work and
the education of the children :
If the school has a very poor wellbeing record there will be a number of
staff absences to cover; schools with poor wellbeing tend to have huge

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budget problems and something has to be cut. I don’t know how you can
resolve that problem without cutting some sort of resources that then
affect learning in the school. (TSN3)
• Particular stresses from lack of resources for art and technology teachers
and for schools with large classes were mentioned by individual Teacher
Support Network respondents.
8.3.3.1 Community and school culture
One academic referred to teachers as a community of knowledge workers who
were not valued by society. An NGO also spoke about the school as a learning
community and the psychological leadership of the head being vital to the type of
community achieved. This person also saw the teachers’ job as being community
focussed and spoke about “the culture of the school” being very important.

8.3.4 Control
8.3.4.1 Overview
Four different themes relating to control were discussed by the respondents.
These were:
• General references to control and/or autonomy,
• Bullying,
• Performance management, including references to the external imposition
of targets and inspections.
• Rigid structures and hierarchies
8.3.4.2 General references to control and/or autonomy
Sixteen respondents specifically referred to levels of control or autonomy. The
need for control over one’s work and a certain level of autonomy was widely
recognised by academics (5 out of 8), NGOs (4 out of 5), and unions (3 out of 4).
Only two Teacher Support Network related staff and none of the government or LA
representatives, however, mentioned this area specifically.
8.3.4.3 Bullying
Eleven of the stakeholders referred to bullying as a wellbeing issue, most of these
represented Teacher Support Network/TSS/TSC or unions. The majority linked
bullying to poor management, (including 4 Teacher Support Network and 3 union
representatives). One academic and one government representative felt that
bullying was a pervasive problem that did not just apply to teachers but was
common in the public sector and maybe elsewhere.
8.3.4.4 Performance management
Sixteen stakeholders specified “targets” as a threat to wellbeing.
There was general agreement from academics that external target setting was a
cause of anxiety and stress among teachers, but few references to this came from
union and government representatives. Three of the eight academics referred to
targets, tests and examinations, and three others specified targets and
examinations leading to fears and anxieties about becoming a failing school or
about school closure.

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Schools such as these are often under threat from Ofsted to close them
because they are underperforming, and teachers are under additional stress
because of this. (Academic 2)
a lot of teachers believe that they are not allowed to be as flexible an
expansive in their work as they used to be because of targets and exams,
this must be a potent cause of a poor sense of wellbeing or a sense of
stress. (Academic 8)
Three Teacher Support Network staff talked about the feelings of teachers, and
two NGOs suggested that targets have an impact on professional identity and
feelings of control. Three people (LA, WLS and union representatives) referred to
inspections and the high level of accountability as a specific issue.
Within the public sector at large there are the pressures of targets, these
are probably present in the private sector too but the pressure is greater in
the public sector because of public accountability, for teachers particularly
with OFSTED (NGO2)
8.3.4.5 Rigid structures
Four respondents referred to rigid structures within schools impinging on
wellbeing.
One academic spoke about rigid structure not being good for working relationships
and referred specifically to management structures:
They are also part of a very rigid structure and that is not very good for
good working relations generally. The management structure is an
important factor. The line manager is the prism through which the
organisation is perceived, and the way the organisation is perceived has a
major impact on the wellbeing of people working in that organisation.
(Academic 8)
An NGO made particular reference to how rigid timetables and routine affect
wellbeing:
It has a very real effect on wellbeing; it has the potential to shut down a
sense of professional freedom and flexibility... the routine of the job shuts
out the capacity to feel more professionally independent. (NGO4)
This respondent also suggested that there was increased prescription in the
routine imposed on teachers and felt that the extent to which the school is able
to be flexible about working practices and clear about objectives for both the
school and for the individual teachers was an important factor.
A union representative believed that school hierarchies and how they were
perceived and used by teachers was a particular problem, and suggested that
bullying through the use of excessive demands, was related to such hierarchical
structures as well as to a lack of management training.

8.3.5 Support
8.3.5.1 Overview
Twenty five respondents responded positively when asked if there was evidence
that teachers needed support. Four others, however, qualified this by suggesting

61
that teachers needed support, but were no different from anyone else in that
need. Only eight respondents mentioned support as a specific factor impinging on
wellbeing when asked that question, but it is possible that at least some of these
felt they had already spoken about this in response to the earlier question.
Four Teacher Support Network representatives specifically stated that the level of
support available to teachers was a factor in their wellbeing. Specific reference
was made to the difficulty of obtaining peer support because of the isolation of
teaching, and to the importance of support from the school management team. In
addition, two academics and one NGO suggested that the level of support that
teachers felt they had was an important aspect of their working environment that
had an impact both on their wellbeing and on students’ effective learning.
Another NGO claimed that the way the school was managed to enable support for
teachers had a direct effect on their wellbeing.
8.3.5.2 Support and relationships
The importance of relationships was raised by almost half of those interviewed. In
total 16 people spoke about relationships, usually they said that relationships
were an important factor impinging on teacher wellbeing, but relationships were
rarely linked directly to support.
• Five Teacher Support Network representatives referred to relationships,
speaking mainly about relations between staff, although one mentioned
relations with management and two spoke about relationships with pupils.
Relationships are very important: with pupils, other colleagues, with direct
manager or with head teacher (more common in primary schools, but less
often in secondary where heads are usually more remote). Poor
relationships with immediate head of department are a common source of
stress. (TSC2)
• Five of the 8 academics also spoke about the importance of relationships,
but mainly in general terms apart from one who referred to staff relations
and another to relations with management.
• Both LA representatives spoke extensively about relationships stressing all
relationships among staff, with pupils and with management.
• One union representative referred to the importance of relationships
between teachers.
• One of the NGOs made a general comment on relationships when referring
to the Management Standards.
8.3.5.3 Support, leadership and management
Management and leadership issues were regarded as important for teacher
wellbeing by 24 of the respondents, although only twelve people, five of them
academics, linked these ideas directly with support. In addition, 6 people spoke
about poor management skills in schools and the need for better management
training, 5 referred specifically to the value of the HSE Management Standards
and four mentioned bullying management styles.
• Six academics referred to management and good leadership as key issues,
often returning to the theme on at least one other occasion during the
interview.

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• One Government representative mentioned leadership issues and
perceptions of bullying from staff to staff and from managers.
• One LA representative spoke about the importance of supportive ethos
being provided by senior management, the other suggested that if the
head was managing staff well then they could deal with the pressures of
teaching.
• Five NGOs talked about management with individual references to
leadership, support, incompetent managers and bullying. Three referred
to HSE management standards as being important.
• Teacher Support Network comments ranged over support (1), poor
management (2), bullying managers (2), HSE standards (2), effect from
external pressures on management who then passed them on to staff (2).
• Union representatives focussed on incompetent managers and the need for
better training (3) with individual references to support (1), leadership (1)
bullying (1) and effects from external pressures on management being
passed on to staff (1).
8.3.5.4 Support, reward and respect
Eleven people referred to issues connected with rewards. Three types of reward
were identified: monetary, fulfilment or satisfaction and societal respect. Union
representatives more often referred to pay. Government and Local Authority
representatives did not refer to rewards at all.
Three academics, two NGOs, two union representatives and one Teacher Support
Network respondent referred to the rewards of respect and status among teachers
in terms of obtaining fulfilment from improving children’s life chances, but also in
terms of the reward of respect from society, which for many now seems to be
lacking.
Teaching can be a very rewarding job – improving children’s life chances.
(Academic 7)
Teachers are not respected as they used to be, there is a general
denigration of the profession, and this must have an impact upon how
teachers feel. People enter teaching knowing about the lack of respect for
the profession and the relatively low pay and they are looking for the
reward of seeing kids improve. (Academic 8)
You need a good workplace where there is a fair balance between effort
and reward: the reward is not just monetary, this is very important in
teaching and the public sector generally. (NGO 5)
The workforce agreement has not reduced teacher workload and it has
undermined the professional status of teachers. (Union 2)
Pay was mentioned as another aspect of reward by five people with three union
members, and two academics referring to the relatively low levels of teachers’
pay as a reward for their work.
Teachers need to feel valued and rewarded by appropriate pay levels, but
also they need to be able to take a break and to balance out their work and
their life, this can only happen if they have financial benefits from their
work. (Union 3)

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Pay, as a financial reward and in terms of their valuation by society: there
will be less wellbeing as a teacher if your bills aren’t being paid. (Academic
7)
One Teacher Support Network respondent suggested that, unlike other
workplaces, there are rewards in being part of a teaching community, working
with a group of like-minded people and sharing common academic interests and
achievements.

8.3.6 Change
Change was much discussed by the stakeholders.
• Change in general was mentioned by 18 respondents as a problem for
teacher wellbeing, and 7 of these respondents attributed such problems to
government policies or initiatives. References were made to change as a
cause of stress, changes in curriculum and testing, and teachers constantly
having to deal with new initiatives.
• Six Teacher Support Network representatives discussed the impact of
changes on teacher wellbeing and expressed sympathy for those
experiencing pressure from government initiatives and expectations.
• Six academics agreed that increasing change had impinged upon teachers’
wellbeing. One suggested change may be a similar problem for all public
sector professions, while another believed teachers experienced more
change than others.
• Two academics and two Teacher Support Network representatives
referred to change being a particular difficulty for older teachers.
• Two respondents regarded change as attacks on teachers’ professional
identity so that they now receive less respect and have less control, and
face changes inconsistent with their own ethical and professional values.
Also, over the last 20 years we have seen massive intervention in what
teachers are supposed to do, increasingly prescriptive curriculum and
strategies for teaching. So there is now far more prescription about the
routine of teachers ...and I think the two are closely linked to notions of
professional identity. (NGO 4)
People can’t cope with the pace of change, especially if they feel
ambivalent about the rightness of the change. Teachers are moral
creatures, ethically oriented. (Academic 2)

8.3.7 Role
Multiple roles and role duality were recognised by a small number of respondents
as a problem for teacher wellbeing. Those referring to role came from all sectors
except unions. There were only five references to role responsibilities; four
respondents spoke about the difficulty of having increasing numbers of roles to
fulfil, and one person (from TSC) referred specifically to role conflict as a result
of the teacher having dual roles.

8.3.8 Demographic variables


8.3.8.1 Overview

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The stakeholders had nothing to say about teacher gender and only four
mentioned issues of teachers’ age. However, 7 respondents compared wellbeing in
primary and secondary schools. There were a few references to contextual
matters such as the geographical and socio-economic areas in which teachers
worked, the state of the school buildings, class sizes, and teacher personality. But
these were raised by only a small minority of respondents. Those expressing a
view that personality might be important were from all sectors except unions, but
again represented only a small minority.
8.3.8.2 Age and experience
Three respondents held the view that older teachers might find teaching more
difficult and stressful because the context had changed and because of the pace
of change. A fourth, in contrast, referred to the problem of inexperience and
youth. Two of these respondents were Teacher Support Network representatives
and both the others, an academic and an NGO, had previous experience working
with Teacher Support Network.
8.3.8.3 Sector
Four respondents identified relationships and communications as different in
primary and secondary schools and attributed these to differences in
organisational structures and school size. They suggested that primary schools had
better communications and relationships because of their flatter hierarchies. This
enabled headteachers to have more contact with their teaching staff, and to
reduce stress in the more open culture. Another respondent, concerned that pupil
misbehaviour impinged on teacher wellbeing, felt that there were less discipline
problems in primary schools.
However, three respondents identified areas which might cause teachers in
primary schools greater stress than those in secondary schools. Two respondents
suggested that the workforce agreement could have added to teachers’ workload
and stress levels, and another felt that covering for absent colleagues was a
particular problem for teachers in small primary schools.

8.3.9 Comparisons between the wellbeing of teachers and other groups


8.3.9.1 Overview
Responses to the following two questions have provided an overview of any factors
affecting wellbeing that respondents felt might be specific to teachers:
Q4a. Should teacher wellbeing be seen as having different needs from those
of other groups of workers?
Q4d. Are there factors or conditions that promote or inhibit teachers’
wellbeing that are distinctive from those that impinge on other
occupations?
Nineteen respondents did not feel that teachers were necessarily different from
other groups of workers, all had wellbeing needs. Four of these suggested that
lack of respect, responsibility and emotional exhaustion were factors for all public
sector workers. One academic noted, however, that the lack of respect for
teachers was different because of negative perceptions about teaching
perpetrated in the media.

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Some responses to the two questions mentioned examples of demand (16), control
(8), relationship (3) and change (5) and these have been taken into account in
previous sections. Twenty respondents also picked out the following factors as
distinctive in impinging specifically on teacher wellbeing: professional identity,
isolation and responsibility for young people.
8.3.9.2 Professional identity
Six respondents talked about how their belief that teachers’ professional identity
was suffering as a result of increasing external control. For example:
Teachers are moral creatures, ethically oriented, so the ethics of doing
things matters to their professional identity and if you compromise this by
saying, never mind if it’s right or not just do it, then this hits at everything
they have built up over the course of their working lives, and damaging
their professional identity. (Academic 2)
External forces make demands on teachers but also teachers will ask
themselves whether these demands are right for the children. There are
many, many teachers who care very deeply for teaching, are good teachers
and want to be in teaching, and the big frustration for them is that the job
they are asked to do is not the job they want to do. (NGO 1)
The large majority of people who enter teaching have a vocation, they are
committed to children and young people; they are very altruistic. What
causes them frustration is what they would see as interference in their
professional judgement in how to help children the best.”(Union 1)
8.3.9.3 Isolation
Six respondents felt that teachers might have different wellbeing needs from
other groups because they are isolated during their working day. In particular,
because teachers tended not to work with other adults for much of the time, it
was felt that they needed peer support and opportunities for working in an adult
environment.
8.3.9.4 Responsibility for children’s life chances
Five respondents remarked on the particularly high levels of responsibility that
teachers had for children’s wellbeing, education and safety, and for societal
problems.

8.4 Interventions

8.4.1 Types of Intervention


Primary management strategies are defined as those intended to prevent work-
related stress arising, targeting the employee, the job or the interface between
the worker and the workplace. Interventions of this type were named and
discussed by all Teacher Support Network representatives, NGOs, LA and
Government representatives and by the majority of academics and union
representatives.
Secondary approaches are those attempting to minimise the impact of stress and
diminish the seriousness of its consequences, focussing on the individual worker.

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Almost all Teacher Support Network representatives referred to this type of
intervention, as did all LA and Government representatives, and most NGO and
Union representatives. Only 3 of the academics referred to this type of
intervention.
Tertiary stress management strategies involve identifying and treating the ill
effects of stress once they had occurred, and rehabilitating the individual to
enable them to return to work as swiftly as possible. The only intervention of this
type that was mentioned was the provision of occupational health services: ten
respondents commented on this, six of these were Teacher Support Network
representatives.

8.4.2 General overview of knowledge of interventions


The types of primary management intervention strategies most often identified
were: wellbeing programmes, the use of the HSE Management Standards, and
interventions by management. There were six general comments about
interventions at the level of the organisation being important and a few
respondents referred to the importance of CPD, collaboration and a supportive
environment within schools.
Types of secondary interventions most often mentioned were: help-lines provided
by Teacher Support Network, unions, counselling and stress management
programmes. In addition a few people referred to mentoring, supervision and
other individual solutions.
The only tertiary stress management strategy mentioned was occupational health
service provision.

8.4.3 Occupational Health Services


Nine stakeholders talked about Occupational Health Services. Three mentioned
that such services have a role to play in providing support for teachers, but the
other six suggested that their value was limited for a number of reasons:
• Three referred to variation between schools in their use and knowledge of
OH; some services respond quickly but others take too long, making it
difficult for teachers to benefit from what is offered. Some schools take
up the recommendations of OH, but others ignore them and although most
schools have access to LA occupational health services, they may not know
how to use them.
• Three, including two Teacher Support Network representatives, felt that
there were confidentiality issues with OH: teachers were reluctant to use
them through lack of trust of the confidentiality and feelings of
vulnerability and suspicion that such services were linked to promotion
systems.
• Two people spoke about the costs of OH. One indicated that the service
had to be paid for out of school budgets and this made them reluctant to
use these services. The other stated that services such as occupational
health were already paid for and felt that this was not the reason for the
lack of take-up.

8.4.4 Employee assistance programmes

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There were only three references to employee assistance programmes. Two
people simply stated that such programmes existed and the third said that these
programmes were “not well used”.

8.4.5 Teacher wellbeing programmes


Fifteen of the stakeholders referred to the Wellbeing Programme or to the work of
Worklife Support. Seven of these were from Teacher Support Network and four
from NGOs. Neither of the government representatives and only one union
representative mentioned wellbeing programmes.
Seven stakeholders spoke very positively about wellbeing programmes as
illustrated in the comment below.
Wellbeing programmes are very important; they are coherent and have
been thought through. Not just the Worklife Support programme, there are
some authorities that run their own wellbeing programme. (Academic 1)
However, four people expressed more cautious views as illustrated below. Three
of these respondents had also made positive comments, but felt that wellbeing
programmes were not always run for the right reasons.
Wellbeing programmes can be used by LAs to avoid having to pay
compensation claims by teachers who have been made ill or had to retire
because of stress: if the LA can point to a programme that it has in place
that is in line with the HSE standards.... [that] can be seen as an insurance
policy against major pay-outs. It is also a legal defence in compensation
claims. So it is not always put in place for the right reasons. (Academic 7)
What makes it effective is the commitment of the managers of the school
to the programme, if senior staff are committed to improving staff
wellbeing the programme it will work and it will be very useful, if not then
it won’t. Senior staff in schools and in LAs have to have real commitment to
improving teacher wellbeing for it to work. (Union 4)
The remaining stakeholders simply mentioned wellbeing programmes as examples
of useful interventions.
8.4.6 Confidential help-lines
Fourteen references were made to the confidential helpline provided by Teacher
Support Network, eight of these by Teacher Support Network representatives. All
were very positive about the helpline. For example:
The intervention by Teacher Support Network via the support line has been
hugely beneficial: it has as its purpose to increase self-confidence and
releases them to feel they have rights to express their views and ideas.
(Union 3)
8.4.7 Costs and benefits of intervention
Seventeen respondents gave their views about financial or other costs of
intervening. Often this was limited to quite general statements such as:
They are expensive, if they were actually costed on the salaries and time of
the people who did it they would be tremendously expensive. (Academic 8)

68
Everyone says it’s a really positive thing to do and I’m sure it’s saving us
money. (LA 2)
But others provided more definite statements:
Case studies on HSE executive website. For every £1 invested in wellbeing
there is a saving of £6 - roughly (generally across the workforce, not just for
teachers). (Gov 1)
Cost of employee assistance programmes is about £10-£12 a head per year
across all employees in an LA, but not specifically for teachers...One big
cost, which increasingly LAs are unwilling to bear, is teacher support
officers, and this is a significant cost, in an authority, probably approaching
£100,000 a year. Only 5 authorities are doing it now. (TSS 1)
TSC probably helps less than 1,000 teachers per year, costs £100k to
provide services (not including overheads, marketing etc), this is just the
money paid to LTL to provide the service... Grants and loans – last year
gave £18k to 14 teachers...Difficult to put a price on the benefits ...
counsellors have stopped people committing suicide, what price can be put
on this? (TSC 4)
Respondents were more able to provide definite views when asked about the
effects or costs of not intervening; twenty-two people answered this question and
nineteen of them referred to absenteeism, turnover or retention. Absenteeism
was the most frequently mentioned cost, for example:
Sickness levels – every day a teacher is off it costs £150+. We do phased
returns to work if people have been off long-term, they would come back
for one day a week and gradually increase, but it’s all on full pay. But we
wouldn’t see Occupational Health as a cost we’d see it as an investment.
(LA1)
The most obvious indicator is sickness and absence and the cost of not
supporting teachers is that physically and emotionally their health suffers.
(NGO4)
Retention was less often mentioned, seven people talked about this issue,
three of them were academics and two were NGOs. Turnover was only
referred to by two academics.
The costs include long-term sickness absence, staff leaving the profession,
rapid turnover of staff, costs of recruitment and training. (Academic 6)
The other aspect frequently mentioned was the effect on children and their
achievement. Eleven stakeholders, including six representing Teacher Support
Network and one academic, made reference to this, but four said there was no
evidence to support their view:
Loss of productivity, not completing the syllabus, not getting through the
syllabus effectively, the impact on children’s lives (we don’t have the
evidence but we know it must be happening), and by teachers not managing
a situation well because they are stressed. (Academic 8)
I don’t know of any real work that’s been done on that but the costs would
be very high in my view: first there’s the cost to the individual teacher who

69
is suffering personally, the children are suffering because their teacher
isn’t performing at their peak. (TSN3)
The other cost, which without research is impossible to work out, is the
cost to young people and their lives. (TSS 1)
There were also six references to the costs of litigation, four from Teacher
Support Network representatives.
When asked if they knew of any evidence about the costs of not intervening very
little was offered. Three people made suggestions about where evidence could be
found:
Worklife Support has a massive database of evidence available. (LA2)
Teacher Support Network did a rough cost analysis for the Welsh Assembly
Government. (TSN2)
Carol Lynch has worked out the costs of staff absences, turnover, costs of
interviewing and appointing new staff, and it is a lot more expensive than
the costs of the wellbeing programme. (Union 4)

8.5 Teacher wellbeing and effective learning

Without exception all respondents held the view that teacher wellbeing would
influence the effectiveness of students’ learning. For example:
I think it’s absolutely essential: if you are feeling under pressure then
relationships generally become a lot more difficult. So if someone is under
a lot of stress then some aspects of classroom management are going to
slip. Managing behaviour is much easier when you are feeling good yourself;
if pupils in class aren’t behaving then they can’t be engaged. (LA2)
However, only 7 people put forward any evidence to support their opinions; five
referred to the study by Dewberry and Briner, two to the results of Worklife
Support wellbeing programmes and three to their PhD theses.
Opinion Leader Research for the Norfolk Well Being programme ...provided
evidence that intervention in teacher wellbeing had positive effects on
young people. (TSN1)
There is some evidence that where levels of teacher wellbeing are high
then pupils do better. The Worklife Support wellbeing project has done
work on this. Higher levels of staff wellbeing lead to lower levels of staff
absence and lower levels of staff turnover; this provides greater stability in
the school and results are better in these schools. (Union 4)
A few respondents discussed the current lack and difficulty of obtaining such
evidence:
It is amazingly understudied ... but if you try to dig out the evidence, the
theory there isn’t much at all. I personally believe there are strong links
but in terms of evidence I am not aware of any . . . we know broadly that
any displays of emotion will impact on your behaviour so logically teachers’
wellbeing and the way they feel and the emotions they display will affect

70
students’ behaviour which in turn will affect their performance. But this
chain of events has not been studied in teachers. (Academic 1)

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10. CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION
Most of the literature cited in this review has focussed on what might be called
“substitute measures” for teacher wellbeing including job satisfaction, stress,
burnout, health and absenteeism. One thing lacking has been serious
consideration of the extent to which these substitutes validly and
comprehensively represent wellbeing. Furthermore, many studies also
concentrate on factors that damage rather than enhance wellbeing. This implies
that there is a need to focus on, and be clear about, the meaning of “wellbeing”
(following the example of Aeltermann et al., 2007), rather than relying on
common sense assumptions about relationships with substitute measures. A
further implication is that priority should be given to research that emphasises
development and evaluation of ways of enhancing wellbeing, rather than focussing
on how it is damaged.
Agreement is apparent, in the literature and among stakeholders, that teachers
perceive the impact on wellbeing of demands from workload and pupil
misbehaviour to be particularly important. The evidence for this comes from
diverse sources, countries and methodologies that have measured stress, job
satisfaction and wellbeing. Although there is little need for any more research to
ratify the general importance of these stressors, more attention should be given
to detailed studies of what are the specific demands imposed by workload and
pupil indiscipline, and of how they can be moderated. Evidence is also needed on
whether, and to what extent, disruptive parental behaviour impacts on teachers’
wellbeing. If there is significant evidence, beyond the frequent common sense
assumptions, then there is a case for exploring and evaluating how the impact
might be moderated.
Emotional labour is a pressure on teachers which has had modest salience in
stakeholders’ views, but where research has been limited. In particular, there
have been no longitudinal or qualitative studies designed to explore causal links
with wellbeing. However, it may be that issues like emotional labour,
responsibilities for young people, professional exhaustion and isolation are
particularly important for teachers in comparison with other occupational groups.
This suggests that it is important to replicate, for UK teachers, studies in other
countries that have investigated the impact of emotional demands on wellbeing.
Exploration and evaluation of how such impact might be moderated could then
follow.
Although the relevant research comes mainly from outside the UK, there is
general agreement in the literature and among stakeholders that having control
over one’s work is positively related to feelings of personal accomplishment,
autonomy and efficacy as a teacher. However, no study has looked directly at the
relationship between job control and wellbeing despite many people, including
the stakeholders interviewed in this study, asserting that high levels of external
control are imposed on UK teachers. This suggests a need to explore in depth the
nature and extent of the control over their work that can have a positive impact
on teachers’ wellbeing.
At a general level, the importance of support for teachers, from both colleagues
and school leadership, has been apparent in both the research literature and the
stakeholder interviews. However, more extensive studies of teachers-in-schools

72
would be desirable to collect evidence on links between relationships-with-
colleagues and individual teachers’ wellbeing, and on whether gender or the
sector of school education influences such links. Even more valuable would be
action research studies, with associated evaluations, to promote styles of
leadership and management support that enhance teacher wellbeing.
There has been a popular view, shared by the stakeholders interviewed, that
teacher wellbeing has been undermined by organisational changes, often
introduced rapidly by local or central government, in the curriculum, assessments
or various other innovations. A range of implications of such changes have been
identified from day-to-day stress to attacks on teachers’ professionalism.
Research studies, however, provide little direct evidence explicitly linked to
change, but it is possible that such evidence is “buried” within the work that
ostensibly is concerned with other demands on teachers such as increased
workload and having control over one’s work.
Government reports and quantitative research into the wellbeing of the UK
workforce in general have recognised the importance of rewards and respect for
work, and more limited evidence has linked stress levels and job satisfaction with
the rewards or respect that teaching receives. Concern has also been expressed
about perceived reductions in respect for the teaching profession over recent
years, although this probably varies even across the four nations of the UK. There
would be value in investigations, both within and outside the profession, of the
variation of respect across the UK or over time and of the implications of this for
teacher wellbeing.
Evidence about variations in wellbeing relating to gender, age and experience
presents a complex picture. Research studies have sometimes suggested
generalisations such as lower job satisfaction and higher work stress among older
teachers and for men in comparison with women However, other more limited and
sometimes contradictory evidence also suggests possible gender/age interactions.
For example stress levels may be higher for men during the first years of
secondary teaching and for women thereafter, but older male primary teachers
may have less work satisfaction compared with their female counterparts.
Explanations of the differences observed have not necessarily been convincing and
it may be that findings are further confounded by the sectors of education: one
group of researchers observed that, in Belgium, wellbeing was highest among
nursery teachers, next for primary teachers and lowest for secondary teachers.
They thought that this might be because in the nursery and primary sector the
majority of teaching staff are female and are more likely to be younger than their
male counterparts. But this gender/age differential between the sectors is not
apparent in England.
Variations in wellbeing across different sectors of education are similarly
complex. On the one hand, some research has indicated that primary teachers
have higher wellbeing and job satisfaction than their secondary counterparts. On
the other hand, some surveys have found that primary teachers are more stressed
than secondary teachers, although one study found no such differences. Such
apparently contradictory findings may arise from the studies being carried out at
different times or in different countries, or they could indicate that the
relationships among work stress, job satisfaction, and wellbeing are either weak
or very complex.

73
Research investigating influences of school and demographic factors (gender, age,
experience and sector) would be of value if it replicated other countries’ studies
of wellbeing, rather than the current UK emphasis on stress and job satisfaction.
Such evidence could help design interventions targeted at particular groups.
Most intervention strategies that aim to improve teacher wellbeing have focussed
on management techniques that are designed to identify ill effects of stress and
rehabilitate individuals for return to work. They are less likely to counter the
problems of stressful work environments than alternative approaches that target
employees, jobs or worker/workplace interfaces with the intention either of
preventing work-related stress arising or of minimising the impact of stress and
seriousness of its consequences. Some evidence suggests the tailoring of
interventions is important. For example, targeting individuals appears to be the
most effective approach for mental health problems, but for job-related stress
reduction it is the organisation that should be the focus.
Wellbeing programmes have provided schools with primary intervention
management techniques, but so far evidence on their effectiveness (especially
causal links) or on cost-benefit analyses has been limited. Furthermore, teachers’
use of local authority occupational health services, employee assistance
programmes or counselling has been limited, and they have expressed concerns
about confidentiality, stigmatisation and adverse consequences for promotion.
Some evidence has also suggested that while occupational healthcare workers are
better equipped to advise on physical health problems than those of mental
health, teachers’ ill-health retirement most commonly results from mental health
problems There, however, indications that over time holistic approaches, such as
the Norfolk or London Wellbeing programmes, may influence problems of
communication or sickness-related absence, and teachers in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland have responded positively to ideas of confidential help-lines like
that provided by Teacher Support Network. As yet, there is no body of systematic
evaluations of such help-lines.
We have to conclude that all intervention programmes should be rigorously and
systematically evaluated, and the imbalance among approaches that intervene at
different stages in the process establishing teacher wellbeing be made public for
action to be taken. Where occupational health services are provided, personnel
should be equipped to deal with all problems, including those of mental health.
Evidence from several studies has been consistent with the widely held view that
there are positive relationships between teacher wellbeing and student learning,
as well as job performance or other aspects of teaching effectiveness. However,
these studies have not been able to demonstrate clear causal links in these
relationships and some have had significant methodological limitations. Only one
could be argued to have provided clear and robust evidence, indicating that the
success with which teachers are able to manage the interactions between
commitment, agency, resilience, life-work management and sense of well-being
are crucial in determining their effectiveness as teachers (Day et al., 2006).
Despite the undoubted difficulties of designing and implementing investigations,
there is a clear priority for new studies of the impact of teacher wellbeing on
student learning with validated measures of wellbeing and research designs that
promise better identification of causal findings. The importance of such studies
follows directly from the clear centrality of the educational questions they

74
address about the conditions necessary for improvement of student learning. The
urgency to be accorded to teacher wellbeing is dependent on acceptance of the
importance of its place in creating those conditions.
Of the possible research areas identified above, the major priorities for Teacher
Support Network are:
• To investigate the links between teacher wellbeing and pupil attainment.
• To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions as enhancers of teacher
wellbeing.
• To explore the promotion of supportive leadership and management in
schools to enhance teacher wellbeing.

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12. APPENDIX 1

Analysis of textual material

Each article/report is examined with the following questions in mind. It may be


that in some cases there is nothing in the text that is relevant to the question.
Reporting of the data should be succinct, but compatible with the inclusion of all
the separate elements found within the text. Anything that falls outside the
general predetermined framework of the analysis should be included at the end.
General
1. How is teacher “wellbeing” construed and exemplified in the text?
2. Is there evidence for a need for concern about teacher wellbeing? If so what is
the nature and quality of the evidence (empirical data, assertion, general
impressions, other)?
3. Is there evidence on specific factors which undermine or enhance teacher
wellbeing? What are those factors? What is the nature and quality of the
evidence? To what extent are these factors related to work based or non-work
based conditions?

Comparisons with other occupations


4. Is the issue of teacher wellbeing as different and suffering in comparison with
other groups of workers considered? If so what is the nature and quality of the
evidence?
5. Are particular factors cited as clearly distinguishable as applying to teaching,
but not to other occupations? If so what is the nature and quality of the
evidence?

Interventions
6. Is there evidence about the impact of interventions on wellbeing? What is the
nature of the impact? What is the nature and quality of the evidence?
7. Is there evidence on the costs of intervening? What is the nature and quality of
the evidence?
8. Is there evidence of the effects and costs of not intervening? What is the
nature and quality of the evidence?

Relationships between teacher wellbeing and student learning


9. Is there evidence about the impact of teacher wellbeing on the effectiveness
of students’ learning? What is the nature and quality of the evidence?

Other evidence or propositions


10. Is there any other evidence or propositional statements on how aspects of the
working environment and conditions contribute to the promotion of, or
challenge to, teacher wellbeing and the effectiveness of young peoples’
learning? What is the nature and quality of the evidence?

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Quality of the evidence, inferences and design of the study
11. Regardless of what kind of study this is, what can be said about the quality of
the design, methods and inferences of the study and the confidence we can
have in the conclusions drawn?

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13. APPENDIX 2: INTERVIEW FRAMEWORK
Although the interviews might be classified as semi-structured, they are clearly
closer to an open-ended rather than a structured kind of enquiry. The questions
should be seen as “openers” to particular issues for the interviewee to address,
but should not provide prompts. The aim is to establish how the interviewees
make sense of the field of teacher wellbeing and to probe these thoughts, but not
to use the researcher’s knowledge or views as a way of getting them to say
something.
Probing questions may include “Can you say a little more about that?”, “Is there
anything you would like to add?”, “Could you provide an example?”, “I wonder if
you could clarify that point?” or “Do you know of any evidence for that?”.
Prompting questions (to be avoided) involve the researcher offering the
interviewee information, ideas, examples or opinions and inviting reactions to
these.
If it appears that prompting will be necessary to get sufficient information out of
the interview, this should be undertaken at the end so that the data can be
separated from that which identifies the interviewee’s own independent thinking.
It is not necessary for the questions to be addressed in the order that is indicated
here. Although it is desirable that most if not all should be addressed, the order
may be varied to suit the individual and some “later” questions may be overtaken
in those addressed earlier in the interview. It should be made clear to
interviewees that although we are asking them to tell us about evidence we are
happy for them to tell us about their beliefs or expectations even where
independent evidence is, as far as they know, not yet in place.
In advance of the interview, interviewees should have a brief note saying that we
will be asking them to respond by indicating what, from their experience (e.g. as
teachers, employers, Teacher Support Network officers, Board members,
developers, union officers) and any familiarity with the relevant literature, they
have to say about the meaning of teacher wellbeing, the factors that influence
such wellbeing and the place of interventions in supporting wellbeing. In the
telephone follow-up to the note the matter of recording the interview may be
broached.

General
1. What do you think is meant by “teacher wellbeing”? Are you aware of others
adopting different meanings for this term?
2. Do you think that there is evidence to suggest that teachers need support in
order to maintain or improve their wellbeing? What kind of evidence is
available in relation to this?
3. What are the specific kinds of things that that you believe impinge on
teachers’ wellbeing? Are there both work and non-work related factors or
conditions? Is there evidence related to these matters?
4. Should teacher wellbeing be seen as having different needs from those of other
groups of workers? Why should this be so and is there evidence on such
matters?

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5. Are there factors or conditions that promote or inhibit teachers’ wellbeing that
are distinctive from those that impinge on other occupations?
6. Are you aware of particular interventions that have enhanced (or failed to
enhance) teacher wellbeing? What is the evidence for this? Is there information
about financial or other costs of intervening?
7. Are you aware of any effects or costs of not intervening? Is there evidence on
this issue?
8. What is your view about the relationship between teacher wellbeing and the
effectiveness of students’ learning? Do you know of any evidence about this
relationship?
9. Do you think there are particular aspects of the working environment and
conditions that either promote or challenge teacher wellbeing in ways that
impact on students’ effective learning?
10. What kind of new research would you give a high priority to in the field of
teacher wellbeing and why?
11. Do you have any ideas about where funding for such research might be sought?
12. Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish this interview –
either something we haven’t covered or an issue you would like to return to?

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14. APPENDIX 3: DETAILS OF INTERVIEWEES
Type Possible Areas of Involvement Number
interviewed
Teacher Active involvement in Teacher Support Network, TSC, 10
Support TSS, WLS or LTL as staff or Board members.
Network
group
NGO Active involvement in the development of activities 5
to support wellbeing
Academic Experience of research in this or related fields 8
Gov Responsibility for policy relating to the wellbeing of 2
teachers
LA Responsibility for the wellbeing of teachers as 2
employees.
Union Responsibility for the wellbeing of teachers as union 4
members.

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