A major research project to promote teacher resilience and understand how different factors affect staff wellbeing and job satisfaction is being undertaken by Manchester Metropolitan University.
Education and psychology experts will survey up to 200,000 primary and secondary school teachers as part of the study, which will focus on environmental factors such as the level of support from the school management team, workload and school culture, alongside individual factors such as level of self-esteem and self-care.
The project builds on the results of a recent smaller-scale survey by the university, which suggest that environmental influences on teachers’ ability to thrive within the profession are just as important as individual factors. Workload and support from management had just as big an effect on levels of wellbeing, job satisfaction and risk of burnout as individual factors such as emotional intelligence and self-care.
The project is being led by Dr Steph Ainsworth, a senior lecturer at Manchester Met’s Education and Social Research Institute, working with Dr Jeremy Oldfield from the university’s department of psychology.
Dr Ainsworth, a former primary school teacher, said: “Promoting resilience to help tackle the issues of teacher retention and mental wellbeing has never been more urgent. Teachers are playing a key role in supporting children to recover from the impact of the pandemic, both academically and emotionally.
“Resilience is often seen solely as being down to the individual; here we’re looking at how both personal and environmental factors play a role.
“The message from our initial study is that while it is important for teachers to do what they can to protect themselves from the demands of the job, to really ‘be resilient’ they need to work within a ‘resilient school’ which also acts to protect the teachers within it.”
Following the survey — which will go out to all teacher members of the NEU union — further work will be done with primary and secondary school teachers to put the findings into context by exploring how these factors play out in their working lives.
The findings from these first phases will then be used to develop ways to promote school resilience at both the individual and school level, developing interventions tailored to teachers’ individual needs.