Iona Jackson portrait

Written by Iona Jackson

Iona leads on turning Edurio’s national datasets into useful and impactful insights for trust and school leaders. Iona has worked on national reports focused on topics such as equality, diversity and inclusion, staff retention and pupil experience and wellbeing. She works closely with education leaders and industry experts to understand what the current position means for the sector, and where to go from here.

In the education sector, the wellbeing of staff is a critical issue that impacts not only the individuals involved but also the quality of education provided to pupils. Recent data from the Edurio 2023/2024 mid-year report of Staff Wellbeing in English Academies sheds light on the diverse experiences of educators and other school staff, highlighting significant variations in wellbeing across different roles and protected characteristics.

Overall Wellbeing Insights

The report reveals that less than 40% of staff feel very or quite well, with over a quarter reporting poor wellbeing. Additionally, while around a third of staff report sleeping well, almost half feel stressed and overworked. Despite these challenges, the majority of staff often feel excited about their work, showcasing a dedication to their roles despite the pressures they face.

Role-Based Wellbeing Differences

Wellbeing varies significantly by role within the school environment. Teachers, for example, report the lowest levels of wellbeing across almost all measures, including sleep quality and stress levels. Leadership roles, while also experiencing high levels of stress and workload, report better overall wellbeing compared to other roles.

Protected Characteristics and Wellbeing

Examining wellbeing through the lens of protected characteristics reveals notable disparities. Age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, and parenthood all influence wellbeing in distinct ways.

Age: Younger staff, particularly those aged 25-34, report the lowest levels of wellbeing, highest stress, and poorest sleep quality. In contrast, older staff, particularly those aged 65-74, report better overall wellbeing and less stress.

Gender: Male respondents generally report higher wellbeing compared to female respondents. However, those identifying with another gender identity, although a small group, report significantly worse wellbeing across all measures. 

Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual staff report slightly more positive wellbeing outcomes than their LGB+ counterparts. Stress levels are notably higher among LGB+ staff, reflecting the unique challenges they face in balancing personal and professional identities in often unsupportive environments. As contributors Jo Brassington and Adam Brett from Pride and Progress noted, “The stress that LGBT+ teachers experience speaks to the need for LGBT+ teachers, and teachers from minority backgrounds, to receive mandatory training and support as part of ITE programmes and throughout their careers.”

Ethnicity: The relationship between ethnicity and wellbeing is complex, with no clear trend emerging. However, it is noteworthy that White British staff are the least likely to feel excited by their work. The commentary from Black Men Teach highlights, “While there are variations across ethnic groups, the disparities are not always stark and consistent. This aligns with broader discussions on intersectionality, recognising that individuals may experience unique challenges based on the intersection of various identities, such as race, gender, and socio-economic status.”

Disability: Disabled staff report significantly lower wellbeing across all measures, with issues like poor sleep quality and high stress levels being particularly pronounced. Catrina Lowri from Neuroteachers emphasises that creating a sense of belonging and celebrating disability can have a substantial positive impact on staff wellbeing. “Where schools are trying to improve situations for disabled staff the most successful organisations are those which create a sense of belonging, not only for disabled staff but for those with protected characteristics as a whole.”

Parenthood: Staff who are parents generally report higher overall wellbeing, lower stress, and a greater sense of excitement about their work compared to non-parents. However, they do report slightly lower sleep quality. The reflections from Maternity Teacher Paternity Teacher underscore the importance of understanding the unique experiences of parent-teachers to better support their wellbeing, “More information is needed to understand the experiences of parent-teachers. The age of their children, for example, is likely to play a part in their sense of wellbeing, particularly the impact of their sleep on their stress levels, resilience and ability to cope with their workloads.”

Recommendations for Improving Wellbeing

The report concludes with several recommendations aimed at enhancing staff wellbeing, including taking more intersectional approaches to understand wellbeing disparities more comprehensively, providing cultural competency training, establishing mentorship and support networks for staff from minority backgrounds, advocating for more equitable policies and wellness programs tailored to the unique needs of diverse staff, and fostering partnerships with community organisations to strengthen support for staff.

Hannah Wilson, Director of Diverse Educators, contributes to the conclusion of the report, inviting readers to reflect on their practices:

  • Do we know how many trans and non-binary staff that we have in our organisation? How is their MHWB and what can we do to support this group who are very vulnerable in the current climate?
  • Do we know how many LGBT+  staff that we have in our organisation? Is there a difference in the MHWB of a gay man to a lesbian woman, and how does this differ if they are also a person of colour or a person of faith?  
  • Do we know how many disabled staff/ staff with a disability that we have in our organisation? How are different staff disabilities and access/ inclusion needs supported in an intentional and a proactive way?

By recognising and addressing the diverse needs of staff, schools can create a more inclusive and supportive environment that promotes the wellbeing of all educators, ultimately benefiting the entire educational community.

For more information:

The 2024 Staff Wellbeing in Academies report reveals important contrasts in the wellbeing of different groups of staff working in England’s schools and features expert commentary from Black Men Teach, Diverse Educators, Maternity Teacher Paternity Teacher, Neuroteachers, Pride and Progress and Sufian Sadiq.

Edurio is England’s leading provider of staff, pupil, and parent feedback surveys for schools and multi-academy trusts. So far, our school surveys have supported over 750,000 pupils, parents and school staff. Edurio’s platform and nationwide dataset allow trust and school leaders to benchmark their performance against national averages on topics like staff wellbeing, retention and EDI, parental engagement, pupil wellbeing and others. By measuring the often difficult-to-track elements of education quality, Edurio can help school leaders make informed decisions, develop engaging relationships with staff and communicate their values to their community.