New Teacher Voice Survey results shed light on the pressures schools face

By Steen Videbaek

Wednesday 11 December 2019

More money for education is a popular election pledge. But will it be enough, especially against a backdrop of potentially changing needs and costs? Mental health, poverty, and crime are all prominent election issues. But what impact are they having on schools? To better understand the pressures that schools face, NFER asked senior school leaders about changes in the proportion of time and budget their staff and school spent on providing important services.

Here are some of the Key Findings:

Schools are spending more of their budget and time on mental health and wellbeing. Around 70% of all school leaders reported spending a larger proportion of their budget than last year on mental health and wellbeing (outside of the curriculum). Of the school leaders who reported an increase in expenditure, 85% said they had not received additional funding to cover their increased costs. The results were similar for staff time, with 85% of all school leaders saying that their staff were spending more of their time on mental health and wellbeing. Of those who reported an increase, 45% said that the additional demands had ‘greatly increased’ staff workload.

Schools are spending more on financial support for disadvantaged children. Around 70% of primary school leaders and just over half of secondary school leaders reported spending a larger proportion of their budget than last year on financial support for disadvantaged children (e.g. trips, travel, uniforms and food other than school lunch). Of the school leaders who reported an increase in expenditure, over 60% said they had not received additional funding to cover their increased costs.

Half of secondary school leaders said that their staff were spending more of their time on the prevention of crime. While only 15% of these said it has ‘greatly increased’ staff workload, the prevention of crime may deal with issues like radicalisation and violent crime.  This type of additional workload may be especially stressful for staff.

Schools are spending more on SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) provision. Over 80% of primary school leaders and more than half of secondary school leaders reported spending a larger proportion of their budget relative to the last academic year on SEND provision. Of those who reported an increase, nearly all said they had either not received additional funding or that the funding they had received only covered some of their increased costs. Over three-quarters of all school leaders said their staff were spending more of their time on SEND provision.

Schools are facing increases across multiple services. Almost 70% of primary school leaders and 57% of secondary school leaders reported increased expenditure in three or more of the categories covered in the survey. The results are similar for staff time, with around 70-75% of primary and secondary school leaders reporting increases in three or more categories. Interestingly, for staff time, almost 20% of secondary school leaders said they saw increases in all six categories that the survey looked at.

Angela Donkin, NFER Chief Social Scientist, explains what the Teacher Voice results mean for mental health and wellbeing in schools.

More information on the Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey June 2019

The complete set of Teacher Voice results can be found here.

A total of 448 senior leaders (272 primary senior leaders and 176 secondary senior leaders) completed the survey.

The survey looked at six categories:

  • SEND Provision
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Services (outside of curriculum)
  • Prevention of Crime (e.g. radicalisation, violent crime)
  • Financial Support for Disadvantaged Children (e.g. trips, travel, uniforms and food other than school lunch)
  • Safeguarding (e.g. visits to pupils in the home/social care)
  • Before and After School Clubs

For each category the following questions were asked:

Budget

  • Have you spent a larger percentage of your budget than you did last academic year?
  • Where expenditure has increased, have you received additional funding to cover those costs?

Staff

  • Are your staff spending more of their time than they did last academic year?
  • Who provides these services?
  • What impact have these additional demands had on staff workload?