Skip to content
All posts

Podcast | Season 1 | Episode 11: Teacher Wellbeing: A Case Study and a Research Paper

This week's episode deals with one of the most pressing topic in education: teacher wellbeing. You can hear how both a research paper presented by Dr Bronwen Maxwell (Sheffield Institute of Education) and a case study from Woodland Academy Trust draw very similar conclusions on what is the best way forward.

Wellbeing as Entitlement - Supporting Staff Wellbeing the WAT way

  • Not just workload – improving the culture of support in your school
  • The importance of adapting to greater working flexibility, such as ‘wellbeing days’
  • Addressing staff retention, particularly why 40% of NQTs don’t make it through the first 5 year

Dan Morrow, CEO, Woodland Academy Trust

Schools as Great Places to Work: Promoting Early-Career Teacher Wellbeing

A copy of the article Supporting and inhibiting the well-being of early career secondary school teachers: extending self-determination theory written by Prof Andrew J Hobson (Education Research Centre, University of Brighton) and Dr Bronwen Maxwell, can be found at this link.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell, Head of Commissioned Research and Deputy Head of Centre for Research and Knowledge Exchange, Sheffield Institute of Education

These sessions were recorded live on 13th November 2019, in the Recruitment & Workforce Theatre of the Schools & Academies Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Listen Now
Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify



Dan Morrow

Hello, and we're going to start now. So thank you very much for attending. So just briefly want to go through the context. Who are we? Well, we're a small Academy Trust primary school, based in Kent and Bexley. So far, we've got 4 schools with another one opening this year. And we've got about 250 employees and about just over 2500 kids. Who am I well, I'm a CEO of the organisation. I've been in education for 15 years. I've worked for the trust for just over two years and when I first arrived it wasn't in a great place in terms of how people felt, and where we were actually in terms of staff leaving pretty much every year wholesale. I absolutely believe in education first. But I also believe the whole point of my role is to the leadership of people. Because systems accountability are all by products. But the main point in education, and the main point of leadership is to get the best out of others. And so without knowing that the trust I was walking into wasn't the happiest places. I actually met with a whole staff on the first day and just told him a bit about myself, I think I started with is the fact that absolutely in my life, my family will come first. Now, they're my two kids, actually, they're 19 and 17. Now, so I don't quite look like that. But I couldn't find any pictures of my daughter that was comfortable sharing in public.

Dan Morrow

She really has grown up and I put this up and said, I'm really excited about his job and what I can do, but no matter what happens, no one else is ever going to be as important to me, as those to. And the reason is because you get one shot at life, your family, you can change careers and actually increasingly millennials and early career teachers may well not stay in one sector. But you can't change the fact that you have one chance to be happy yourself. And why should you be at work and feel like you have to make a choice. Interestingly, after a presentation, I had the head of one of my early years settings come up to me and say that twice, she had asked in the past three years to go to her child's first day at reception, but she wasn't allowed because she couldn't get out of school. So how can we, as educators, talk about the importance of relationships with parents and carers say how vital and fundamental it is, and not let our own staff go to an induction day for their child? It's just crazy. And yet we fall into it all the time because as you can has a little bit about computer says no, because we're all expected to be martyrs and victims of a cause. And everything that isn't about the one sense of mission we've got, therefore feels a bit selfish. That's the narrative it needs to change because it is driving colleagues out of our sector left, right and center, and it doesn't work. And actually, it's not particularly fulfilling. So we are all people. We add huge, huge levels of absence, when you have huge levels of absence. The children aren't happy because they get different faces every day, and it becomes a cycle. And it really was a cycle, the misery cycle, no one's happy. And yet, it's ever decreasing circles. No one's gonna get happier unless something changes our staff turnover rate per year I arrived, we had retained 21% of our staff. So the bonus was I didn't have that many staff left who would remember the good old days. And actually it was a it was a fresh start, but it was really telling that we had had around 60-70% turnover all three of the years previous to me arriving, no one discussed wellbeing. Before I arrived, the motto of the trust was children at the heart of everything. And absolutely, that is a great thing for any educational establishment to have. But it can't again be at the exclusion of adults. Putting children at the heart of everything doesn't mean therefore adults, you're second in the queue, and again, in education, I've heard too many leaders come out with lazy statements of 'Oh, but very adult, they need to do this, they need to do that. Why are they not?' Because they're still human beings. Why do we have a different set of expectations in our sector, and quite frankly, any other sector has. So they weren't being treated as people. And it really is as simple as that. They were resources rather than humans. And the phrase that the trust had, and it was everywhere was, we have colleagues we don't have friends at work. And as I said, 80% of staff would go walk out the door every year. Again, on a just a quick tangent around Multi Academy Trusts, it is a small trust. And sometimes when trust first start, you have a fantastic head teacher who then looks after more than one school, and doesn't necessarily know how to get out of that command or control mode or compliance. And if you try and run 4 schools in that way, then actually all you end up doing is talking about numbers, not people. And that's the mistake that was made.

Dan Morrow

So what do we do? Well, we had to look at change. But I also wanted to make some changes, which are going to have a benefit in the next five to 10 years. So really doing it for the long term improvement of the culture. So firstly, I met with every member of staff, and I thought it was really important in my first three months to get to know what was going on, what their hopes, dreams, how that was being supported, how that was being challenged by being at work. And what I actually found out by the Christmas was pretty much every employee saw work is a barrier to happiness. Now, we didn't express it quite so candidly. But it's an work was getting in the away. They didn't feel inspired. They didn't feel supported. They didn't feel understood. They didn't feel cared for. And they didn't feel like actually it was going to make a difference. Because I think you can get into a mind space where everything just becomes really difficult. And I was in a trust where everything was difficult. So we united the staff, obviously the first thing we did is something I hadn't done before. We had a whole trust due at Christmas. Just in case anyone from the ESFA is out there. I paid for out of my own pocket. So no money went through anything with a map but it was my way of saying we break bread together. we socialise we do for most relationships, which are incredibly important so we can relate to each other. For adults, obviously, but we had face painting we had we had these jugglers It was really good fun. Oh, in a photo booth as well, which was very interesting. The entities had a lot of fun, and that's why not and we shared stories with each other. The Gift of leadership is in telling stories. And those stories start to codify who we are as an organisation and therefore how we belong together. Now the stories have to be truthful and authentic, of course. But the point is, you can't back away from the fact that those stories are what unites us. And sometimes, again, in our business in our focus, we we think this isn't the important bit, because instead, just give me the data. Show me the numbers. What is the accountability? Can you red, amber or green it? Well, no. But actually a story you will remember a data sheet you won't, unless Ofsted remember next day, and created actions. And the key to this was we asked the staff, what do you want for your wellbeing now? What do you want them for your wellbeing in five years time? And those two questions were absolutely key. Because what I didn't want to do was just do something tokenistic, which felt like a bit of a magpie give something shiny, everyone's happy. I wanted it to be longer and longer lasting than that. And again as ever, as a leader, I created a space. But I didn't come up with any of the ideas. I didn't come up with any of your original thinking around it. I looked at research papers, as he was saying, and I did homework on it and shared those across the trust, unsurprisingly, for staff really didn't know what they needed. And so the point was to listen, and then articulate that interactions that everyone could get on board with.

Dan Morrow

So the first thing I was a HR piece of work because everyone was on different contracts with different titles because they'd all come in at different points. So it's a bit of a funny word harmonisation in all money is a restructure that, as soon as you say restructure everyone panics, because it wasn't a restructure, which meant that anyone was losing their job. And in fact, other opportunities were created. And we did harmonise it mean, if you are a mile apart in schools, why should you have a pay differential? It's not fair and it wasn't right. So we harmonised. Wellbeing days, this is a biggest thing to come from the staff. There were just too many things that happened in the year that just because we're teachers, there's an expectation our entire lives should happen in non term time. Oh you get these holidays and you get this. Yes. But if my granddad is dying in hospital, I need to go and see him. And if my child is starting in reception, I want to be apparent bad day first. And so all of our staff are entitled to 3 paid wellbeing days a year, they can take one per term, they can either book them, or if they wouldn't do a day and just phone in, they can do that as well. Our guarantee is, those lessons will be covered either by a head teacher or a deputy head teacher, because no one wants to have a day off and come back to nonsense and displays rip down so we keep the standards, but equally we give the time. And this has been so powerful. The only thing I ask back, no one has to do this is staff in the staff room, do a little postcard for their wellbeing day about what they got from it. And now you walk in and there are just hundreds of these little starlings hanging down where people have shared their memories or photos. And it is really, again about building relationship. And I'll talk about the benefits and cost in a minute because there's an accountant in the room you may look at and think, well, how can you pay for that? What if we're a small school, etc, etc. We've saved roughly £300,000 by introducing this. And I'll tell you why in a moment. We've got very family friendly policies. Again, when I arrived, if you were a part time member of staff, you were treated as if you were just the biggest pain ever. Actually, part time flexible staff is amazing. It gives us huge abilities, to flex timetables, and to be really agile in our approach. So now I'm really proud to say 70% of our staff are on some kind of flexible work contracts. When I arrived, it was less than 10%. But again, I'm not going to punish people for wanting to live the lives that they do. It does get tricky. In one of my schools, if you go in on a Friday, it is a little bit like where is everyone? So you have to try it, you know, had I my time again, I might have planned that a little bit better, but I'm back, filling it in now, okay. But again, actually we've retained for staffing in the school, because they often they have an elderly mother who they need to look after, or there's just some wide circumstances that mean, they don't want to give up work. They don't want to change their commitments about school that they need support to be flexible. What's the big deal with that? It's, it's, it's a no brainer. We do surveys all the time. To the extent that actually I need to change it up a bit because I think staff and board are being asked how overtime and but actually, it is always about listening and having those conversations and the last set of surveys last year, and I'm really focused on this. So apologies but now as a result of a staff who did all the research, we have a wellbeing dog in each of our schools. So a staff member looks after them.

Dan Morrow

Children gets the benefits, staff benefits. I'm not gonna lie. When I go to school these days, I want to cuddle from the puppy. So we've got Treacle, we've got Willow got Elsie and we've got Betsy the Beagle. And they are gorgeous. And again, I'm telling you, it's not just for kids a couple of weeks ago staff member really tragically heard about the death of a parent there and then, and they just sat for an hour and a half in my office with the dog not talking. And that was more than okay, because that's exactly what they needed. And to be honest, that puppy did a much better job with them than I would have done for an hour and a half. So sometimes, you just need to find the right thing, or the right person or the right anything. So cares is our kind of vision statement as a trust, but it stands for care, aspiration, inspiration, respect and stewardship. And the key thing about stewardship is, it doesn't matter if I'm a CEO or a head, I am only looking after the school for the community. I don't own it. I don't, it's not mine. It's not property. I'm a public servant, whoever it belongs to the community and our role is only to be stewards to look after. And again, the whole point of wellbeing is reminded that we are all in service as a profession, and therefore the job of leaders in this profession is to serve the people who are serving the communities. And just to remind that hierarchy exists for reporting purposes, not for status purposes, and communication. There is not a school in the country where every member of staff is going to turn around and say communication is great in this place. It's just not the way it works. But equally, we now have a newsletter, which our staff rather than leaders writes, and we as leaders contribute into it. And that really has changed it because, again, we used to do these long newsletters, which I thought had everything they needed and was really interesting. Clearly, it wasn't because they didn't really read it. Whereas now that they edit the newsletter themselves, and we use the senior leaders contributing to it, it's a really different vibe. And, you know, for example, so staff, they'll do a weekly spotlights on a different member of staff who's joined for trust or was new, and it creates so many conversations that again, came from the staff and my whole point is, I think it's about honoring the ideas that are there, rather than trying to come up with yourself. And rebranding was just about saying, look, families first, this is a job to really important job, but it is a job. So don't don't think it has to be about all about work. Part of a rebranding, that was emails aren't we don't just leave a message, I switch our email server off at six o'clock and it doesn't come back on until the morning. And that means staff even if they want to can't send emails, and they can't respond to parents, because the parents emails aren't coming in. And that's good. Because, again, I'm sure lots of you have got that this isn't monitored between as you're sitting on the settee, laptop, looking at emails, what's the point? And I think in leaders, too many times we make decisions around wellbeing, which we don't then model so I do not look at what emails in the evening. I spend time with my kids. Well, I did. I told you they're 19-17 now so they really aren't interested in spending time with me, but equally, it's great. I've got time with my wife now when we haven't had that for years and is and it is about living.

Dan Morrow

So, back into human resources, humans are the most valuable resource. But as soon as you start to look at it as a resource, I think you miss a point. So this whole robotic nature and again, we'll get into politics, but for some schools and trust you go down a certain line, that is their business. Personally, I think I want early career teachers and others to come through the door who are going to still teach in 20 years time because actually enjoy what they're doing, and feel like it matters. And it's not just about results. So again, in our jobs, we don't do data drops, don't do mock stays and all that rubbish. I go to each school at least once a week and I sit with either NQTs or pupils to ask them what their experiences and that's a really lovely way of knowing what a school is like. At the end of the year. The data and outcomes will be what they are, but it is a product of what we do. It doesn't drive it. So they weren't valued around heard. They're burnt out. It was all about data, data data. So I got rid of target tracker. What's the point? Got rid of all the stupid FFT? Let's target every single child. It's just nonsense. It's utter nonsense. So we don't do it had a little bit of a struggle with a board of trustees around that one. But, you know, ultimately, our results have actually improved significantly without weighing the pig the whole time. Because instead, we listened, harmonised, celebrated and understood, and these will be coming around, but effectively, I think the key point is this. It is about listening, and actively listening, because the staff ended up saying quite a lot of things that I didn't really want them to say. And then the easy thing would be to nod and pretend I've heard it, and I'm going to do it, and then just go off and do it anything anyway. I didn't. I changed a lot of what I was planning, because they told me things I wasn't expecting, and didn't particularly like.

Dan Morrow

So what is the incitement? It's not just about money. They do get their paid wellbeing days. I'm gonna make a point on this, by the way, that isn't just teachers. That's NDS, that's support staff, it's any adult in the school is a contributor. And therefore they all get the same provision, talk to staff, and we're so honest about having called in sick basically when not sick, because they need to do something else. And that has now gone. The development change. And this is the important one is about, really, so we give staff a personal development budget, and it's for three years, and they tell us how they're going to spend it over three years. And then in each school, we often do performance management or appraisal, we don't do that stupid thing of you know, 12% of blue children make 2.8 steps. What does it mean? You only ever get to the next year and say, Oh, you couldn't really do that, could you? So instead, we do action research projects and stuff are free years to decide how they're going to spend, spend their personal budget to contribute to their learning, learning of your organisation, and hopefully, publish something that contributes to system learning. So it's about self organisation system, but it all starts with their own development and not someone telling them what they need to improve them telling us what they want to be better at. So again, our module is called strengthening strengths. If someone's always already excellent at English, and wants to become even better facilitating that for others, great. If they're really not very good at music and they don't want to be, that's okay. It doesn't have to be this constant sense of your weaknesses, so we're going to try and fill that gap. No one wants that. See comments will work. It's been it's been really important because we've had a lot of staff. So last year, 3 members of staff went off for a year abroad. And I succumb I basically kept their jobs open, all 3 have come back. Their young, they want to experience a different education system. They want to see what it's like, they did, and they've all returned. And therefore they're back in the system. They It was really cute. They did lots of kind of video links with our classes and some other bits and pieces that kept that relation kept that connection. But ultimately, instead of saying no, find a way to say yes, where everyone can benefit, because again, that's wellbeing but that's also entitlement for the school.

Dan Morrow

Network is an important one. The biggest one is around inclusion and equality because again, as I said, part time members of staff were not treated particularly well previously. And now, I've got 5 head teachers, and not one of them is full time. And that's great. Because actually, they work incredibly well as a team, they understand each other. And if at the top, they can model, you don't have to be here five days every day, then it's conditioned to everyone else.

Dan Morrow

So for the accountants in the room. It was it is expensive to cover always is. And the fact that I use senior leaders to do it is a cost. When I arrived, we had retained 21% of our staff, the average for three years before that was 33%. I believe. Last year, we kept 97% of our staff. And that meant the recruitment budget of £300,000 that we'd spent the year before and the year before and the supply budgets which are horrendous have gone. I have no supply budget and I have no recruitment budgets, don't need them. You can use LinkedIn now use networks, it has saved an absolute fortune, which has gone straight into the children and staff. Days lost to sickness, I wasn't able to update apology I did get figure today though. When I arrived, 1 in 10, just over 1 in 10 days teachers was lost, because they were absent, that meant supply teacher which is a cost that meant kids having strangers in front of them, that meant, that meant, that meant. Actually last year of sickness absence was 2.1%. And therefore, that is the payoff if you like for the board for the governors for everyone else. This is not cost us money. We have saved money. We've saved quite a lot of money. In fact, yeah, a lot. And now I'm starting to think about and trustees have given me permission to do this. I put some of those savings aside to develop a wellbeing plan for the next 5 to 10 years for staff and what that looks like small examples that we started this year and two inset days. I've given over to wellbeing events for each school to organise. So they all did different things. Recently, one of them all went to a panic room together, which, quite frankly, sounds horrific, but that's what they wanted to do. Someone else went paintballing. And one of us goes to cover a karaoke club in Soho, which apparently was very interesting. Great. And again, I'm not going to go to them because then it suddenly becomes a bit awkward, doesn't it? I just love knowing that it's happening. And I love knowing that the staff are friends, and want to be friends because they look out for each other, then they care. And suddenly, instead of phoning in with, I feel a bit sick because actually you feel a bit under it. They will come in because they don't want to let each other down because they feel like a family. Not someone's told them they are family. The last thing I wanted to say on wellbeing overall, like a lot of things in education, we can sometimes get a bit buzz worthy about stuff. This is not anything other than the moral responsibility that leaders have to ensure that their staff are looked after, and catered for as human beings first. And I think it's an absolute reminder, the wellbeing agenda that we are public servants in education. And therefore we must model civic behaviors for how we treat each other. And therefore how we want our children to learn. So wellbeing as an entitlement is just not it's not about an entitlement just to staff or an entitlement just to the children. It is an entitlement to society, that we are not dealing with our schools and our staff, as if we are running little business empires, we're not we are running public institutions, and therefore wellbeing is an entitlement. It is not an add on. There is some amazing work going on out there. But I feel like a lot of the wellbeing is quite siloed in our schools and our trusts, we're not sharing information about it, other than to say this is good, etc, etc. And again, on the dog thing, student attendance in September, across the just has gone up to 2.1%. And when you ask those PA kids, why they're coming in, it's always one of the puppies. So if you want data and the hard bit email me, or send a message, because I've got all of those case studies and reports, and it's I, if you don't if you do anything, the puppies have a way forward, in my eyes.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

Hi. So, teacher wellbeing I'm sure I don't need to tell you why it's important. We know. And I'm going to go very quickly through this slide. We know it's important in terms of the message it gives for potential new recruits. We know it's really important in terms of retaining early career teachers, and I'm sure you all know, the figures around that. We know it's also important in terms of teacher effectiveness, and particularly, that's quite, that's not just about getting results. It's about their whole performance, teacher wellbeing supports creativity, it supports being able to do action, repetition of routines. It's I think you probably can all recognise the idea of flow that sometimes when you're in the moment and you're doing things and time passes, wellbeing supports that and that again, supports more positive wellbeing. And I think we've got a moral responsibility to because teacher wellbeing or wellbeing associated with your work as a teacher, is really important in terms of just your overall sense of wellbeing. What I'd like to do in this presentation is actually give you a chance to stand back a bit. And a lot of the events today and a lot of the stores today are like are about particular solutions to problems. I just want you to stand back a little bit and perhaps have a framework to say about what solutions will be really good in my school, what would really help me what what really does make a difference in terms of schools as great places to work. And I'm particularly going to focus on early career teachers. I think a lot of what I say will apply to teachers in general. But that's where I'm going to draw on some evidence to talk from and I think it's really important to just remember that we don't know a huge amount, there isn't a huge amounts of evidence about teacher, wellbeing out there. There's even less about early career teachers. And I think another thing that's really important is that lots of studies that have been done, focus on negative wellbeing so stress and burnout and how do we make sure that it's very important, but how do we make sure that those things are leviated. But it's also really important to remember that positive feelings of wellbeing and negative feelings of wellbeing are not just equal and opposite. They're very they're weakly and inversely related. So we've got to pay attention to positive wellbeing, and what we do to support that as well as to addressing negative wellbeing. And I think we'd all agree that wellbeing is that mix of individual factors and individual characteristics and the, the context of the school that they're in. And it's again, it's about playing, paying attention to, to both. So just a quick definition of teacher wellbeing. And teacher wellbeing is a positive emotional state in which those positive feelings, let's face it satisfaction with being a teacher, outweigh the negative feelings. So that's it. That's how I'm going to talk about wellbeing, I think that's kind of quite helpful way to think about it when you might be thinking about particular strategies or initiatives that you want to put in place. And I'm going to draw around, I'm not going to go into great depth about it, but I'm going to draw on a study that I did with my colleague Professor Andrew Hobson, at Brighton, and we've both been lucky that we've been in separate long longitudinal studies of early career teacher well being so Andy's studies run over big, big national studies run over five years, the one that I was involved in ran over three years. So we've got lots and lots of data from early career teachers. And what we did was we just went back and we and reanalyse that data to look at wellbeing and we looked at, what they, what they were, what positive emotions they were talking about what negative emotions and then most importantly, what they said about why they were feeling good or why they were feeling less good.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

So it's a big study. I think. In the end, we took data from something like 105 interviews the, the sample was 43 participants, but we had them over time. So we saw, we looked at data, right across the right across the years. And then what we did, and I'm not going to say much about it is that we actually used a framework which is called self determination theory, which is a very well established psychological theory about it started off as a motivation theory. It's been developed over the years, particually by Ryan Deci. To also give a good explanatory framework for teacher wellbeing, and what it focuses on your three key factors that have to be in place in order for positive wellbeing to come about and I'll say more about each of them, obviously, but feelings of competence, feelings of relatedness and feellings of autonomy. And obviously, those, each three of those could be experienced positively, or negatively. And I'm just using that as a tool, as a way that again, you might be thinking about things that you want to very practical things that you might want to do in your own school. And so when we're talking about positive emotions, the things that we're talking about with you know, I'm enjoying it, I'm loving it. I'm really happy about this to do with my teaching or to do in my class, as you'd expect the negative things of being upset, stressed, feeling miserable hurt by just the experiences or particular experiences or being a teacher. And I think alongside with most studies of all professions, everybody has positive and negative experiences. It's the balance that that that matters, in terms of those emotions.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

In this study there were significantly more positive emotions than negative. But I guess if you kind of turn the retention problem around then more stayed than leaved so maybe that's not quite so surprising. A little bit interesting was that the negative emotions quite often always associated with very specific events. This happened and I felt like this little bit of that with positive emotions but more It was a general feeling. You know, I like being a teacher I like being in this school that those kind of feeling. I'm just gonna explain how this table works becuase I want us to look at think about in terms of these beginner teachers relatedness competence and autonomy. And what this table shows, this is just the interview data. So that column, number of participants, so 43 in total, so if you just look at the relate to this line. 35 of those 43 participants, there was something in their data where they talked about something about relatedness that was positive, saying it promoted their wellbeing. 23 of them said it impeded their wellbeing. And in total, nearly everybody 41 of the 43 says something about relatedness. And the reason it says coded segments, that's just about coding, but the bigger the number, it means they were kind of mentioning more often there was more of it in the data. So there's a bigger difference, there's a lot more about relatedness than in terms of promoting wellbeing as impeding wellbeing so one thing I just take from that I will come back to in terms of the other categories.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

In terms of relatedness. So that's the presence options, nature and intensity of social connection to significant others in and around the school and they could be teachers or pupils significant others or the staff, or parents, anybody connected with the school, but this was the most important factor that enhanced or impeded teachers wellbeing. And that kind of connect is very interesting. I said in the SEMH presentation talking about how fundamental that social connectedness is, in terms of our, our wellbeing. And those positive ratios, I think, as I've said, you know, it might be very close relationships with mentors. It might be more distant relationships with parents, it might be line managers. And then in-fact they're inhibiting wellbeing. Go into this slide. Yes. On this slide. This just sets out a little bit, what are those things that are going on in school, that are about relatedness that are really positive reported as positive emotion. So as you'd expect positive relationships with students whether it's within the classroom or outside, that collegial relationships with teacher colleagues, and mentors and colleagues care and support care was interested in one that was use that word was used quite a lot. So more than just interaction and for some friendship, per networks, report in general going to read the quote, but I guess it's something he may be can associate with. Then there's aspects of relatedness that were that are associated with negative feelings of well being with the absence of connectedness. So although there's lots of people around them, they weren't feeling that there was positive interaction with them. And we did get quite a bit of toxic relationships, both with students and with colleagues. I wants to move on to competence. So I'm just going back to the table to give you a feel of how important or not important it was. And it kind of came in terms of how early career teachers saw things. It came to second on the list after relatedness in terms of importance. So for a lot of them 31 of the 43 said it gave examples with promoting wellbeing less 14 of the 43 gave examples of it, impeding wellbeing, and generally about two thirds of them referred to something that has to do with their competence. So those things in terms of competence that promoted well being were sometimes very general in terms of teaching, and then sometimes really specific, like I'm much better at behavior management. It was about feeling good about the subject knowledge about lesson planning about managing their workload. pupil attainments are very specific things that they've been engaged in and they found they, they've made a difference.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

They also there's quite a bit of feeling like they've got somewhere that had an enhanced status. As a teacher, they got through their own NQT induction, they've got more responsibility. They've been given promotion. And often, it wasn't just one thing they talked about things together so that, that that teacher there was was mixing having had a really successful school play together with, and they had a great Ofsted as well. And then things that have competence, competence that undermined their wellbeing was when they didn't get affirmation that they were doing well. And I think in the data, it's a bit mixed, because sometimes that's because they, I think they were generally struggling sometimes it just wasn't the culture that was there. And they had the sense of doubt about they were doing well enough and that was quite troubling for them. And if they weren't making if their pupils weren't me meeting targets, they were worried about that, and could be quite self critical. Yeah, somebody who really didn't get on with less than observation there. And then the third area is autonomy. There's a lot less of that in the data. So although it's there in kind of the theory about wellbeing less evidence, either as a fact of promoting wellbeing or a fact that undermines wellbeing in this state, where it was kind of talked about to promote wellbeing, it was I'm more independent now I don't need to be observed so much now because I've got through my NQT, got my status. And also where they felt that they were had the chance to influence decision making, or they could make decisions in their classroom that perhaps they didn't feel they could make when there were an NQT. So again, a kind of example that just illustrates that, that's a little bit and then if we just go back to autonomy. Yes. So while being with any impeded, where they just felt that there were things they wanted to do, or they wanted to try out, but that just wasn't the way that things were done in their school. And they felt that things needs to be done in ways that they find quite, they found quite hard. And of course, all of these things are not they don't just fall in the categories, that they're related to things to do lateness and competence, and autonomy, or get get mixed up together. And then just the last kind of area here. So things that we felt actually didn't quite fit into those categories, those three related competence and autonomy categories. We also found some more other factors. And I'm just going to outline quite briefly what those were and it's a bit debatable about whether they fit in the categories or not, but I don't think we need to worry about that. I think we just need to recognise they're really important things to To teachers.

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

So thinking about the factors that promote wellbeing that don't come in those categories we've talked about before, what's really important is that feeling that they are being supported when they're being supported as part of their induction, or more specifically, in particular professional learning activities, or being supported for their wellbeing, that that recognition of support is something which isn't just about good relations with pay for it. It's about that that's, that's it's about something can it's in its own right. And then of course, we know the individual dispositions have a characteristics and resilience and just circumstances that go on in their everyday lives and make a difference in terms of feelings of wellbeing Other things, again, less strongly evident in the data. But important really some of those early career teachers, just the enjoyment of the subject, the love of the subjects. You know, I'm doing this all the time. It's fantastic. Some of them enjoying the challenge. And as you'd expect, probably a bit lower than you might expect there was some to do with school environments and cultire, I think actually a lot of that is wrapped up in the earlier areas, and then those are the factors impeding wellbeing, well, you're not going to be surprised what's top of this list are you, which is workload. But workload in the sense of it's not that they it's not the feeling, I can't manage my workload, it's a feeling that the workload is unmanageable. So it's quite specific in that in that sense, now, I've got got one here, what affects my wellbeing issues Just been overworked. It's got to Christmas and I was absolutely exhausted. Again Easter's exhausted, etc, etc. I'm just very frustrated. And so I think that that's the one where obviously there's been a lot of policy and a lot of initiatives to move that one forward. And it may have moved on somewhat sure some of you have been doing some great things. The converse of not feeling, the set of the support leads the positive wellbeing comes back, in fact, as they get in the way that promote negative emotions. There was a sense in those early critiques of entitlement, I'm entitled to support and when I don't get it, that really kind of makes me feel not good when people don't support me. And I just read very briefly a quick quote here as well. Far too often teachers are forced to deal with issues and then left hanging, and the teacher gets no feedback or sense of closure that prevents them from moving on. And they go on to talk about a nasty list of complaints that they got from a parent. They just felt the school just didn't support them. They didn't back them up. The things maybe no surprise, salaries, incentives, there's definitely quite a bit of comparison with other professions and people they've been to university with that kind of thing. See it's judy not important for many, but when when they really felt it, it was really strong in that, so I so what I've done is out yeah, I've been through, kind of just to give you a picture and a bit of a framework to help you think about teacher wellbeing and what when you're looking at, the more practical things you might do. Things you might think about rather than just the solution, thinking underneath what's gonna do for relatedness? What's it going to do for competence? What's it going to do for autonomy? And in the paper itself, there is a kind of checklist that you can use. And if you want an old fashioned paper copy of the checklist, I can even give you one of those. But I think maybe if we want to read more, we've got plenty of time, haven't we? So if we want to have a discussion or ask questions, or maybe I'll throw it up, just throw it open, it's an ask you, you know, is there anything here that strikes a chord with you or makes you think about something either you're doing that's really positive or something that you might do? Or is it just kind of which is fine?

Dr Bronwen Maxwell

One thing I think one thing but I think you've a crucial thing. You've just summed it up because we can do lots of little quick fixes. But it is fundamentally changing the culture and the way the relationships in the score, how teachers are seen and particularly early career teachers because they're in a particular position in the school, aren't they? But you can have the checklist if that if that if that helps. It's got more than one thing on it is the problem. I think they're okay, so I'll stick around if you want to have a chance. Do you want to get a copy of the checklist?


Don't forget to register for your free place at our upcoming show on