Teachers 'worrying more about their students’ results'

By agency reporter
August 23, 2018

As students prepare to receive their GCSE results, new research from the charity Education Support Partnership finds that teachers are worrying significantly more about the implications of their students’ results than in previous years, leading to increased levels of anxiety and poor health amongst the profession.

Out of survey respondents, 44 per cent of teachers said they are worrying more about the exam results of their pupils compared to three years ago, with this increasing to 65 per cent amongst senior leaders. As a result, 48 per cent of teachers have attributed thinking about their students’ results to having a negative impact on their own health, with this rising to 66 per cent amongst senior leaders.

Other findings from the research include:

  • Staff in academies were 21 per cent more likely to state their health and wellbeing was negatively impacted by thinking about what results their pupils will receive
  • Female staff were 38 per cent more likely to feel anxious over the summer break thinking about their pupils’ exam results compared to their male counterparts
  • 19 per cent of respondents reported feelings of severe anxiety when considering the results their pupils will achieve

In response to the survey findings Julian Stanley, CEO at Education Support Partnership, said: “Teachers enter the profession because they want to have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people, so naturally they will become invested in the outcomes of their students’ exam results. Excitement, anticipation and nerves are to be expected, but it’s important that this does not transcend into a negative mind set or prolonged anxiety.

“Our findings highlight a shift in recent years towards these behaviours. This runs the risk of leading to more severe cases of stress and poor mental health at a time when the profession is keen to retain staff and encourage more people to train as teachers.

“We are hearing more and more through our emotional support helpline about an increasing number of schools and academies where exam results have become the sole marker of success as a school and by which pupil and teacher success is measured. For teachers in particular, this approach fails to acknowledge the myriad of other factors beyond their control that may influence the particular cohort taking important exams each year. Teachers are a significant determinant in the outcomes of students but they are not the only factor.

“Institutions and teachers at an individual level must operate a degree of perspective around the build-up to exam results, by acknowledging the commitment and efforts teachers make and have made over the academic year.”

Dr Emma Kell, teacher, Doctor of Education and author of How to Survive in Teaching, added: “Twenty one years in, I have tried so hard not to let results day cast a shadow over my precious and well-earned family time. I have worked to keep it in perspective and have focused on the health and happiness of those closest to me as the thing that matters most.

“On occasion, I have wondered whether teachers have stopped one step short of our true mission if we have not encouraged students in our charge to ‘own’ their results.

“If we have been reflective, worked hard and been truly committed, I think, as teachers, we have given ourselves permission to sleep at night. After all, we earned that right. We share our accountability with our colleagues, with our students’ parents and above all with the students themselves.

“If we can be, and wish to be, our role on Thursday is to be there for them – to do what we do best: reassure, congratulate, model resilience… and if, like me, you have to say goodbye, remind them that they are worth far more as human beings to us than as marks on a grade sheet.”

* Education Support Partnership’s 24/7 support helpline is free and confidential Call 08000 562 561

* Education Support Partnership https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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