Staff wellbeing in international schools: the 2022 Tes Survey
A recent global survey by Tes shows international schools are meeting staff wellbeing needs pretty well, although more can always be done. Jon Romer-Lee reports.
It is widely recognised that during the past two years, schools across the globe have been faced with previously unimagined pressures due to the pandemic. As countries begin to emerge from the pandemic haze, we felt it was important to find out how leaders and teaching staff were feeling and look at initiatives that could be put in place to support them at this critical time.
Poor staff wellbeing naturally leads to absenteeism, long term sick-leave or even valuable school staff quitting the profession. These all have serious implications for student outcomes, while also impacting fellow teachers and proving costly for many schools already challenged by financial pressures exacerbated by the pandemic. The worldwide lack of teaching staff is already an issue for many international schools, so keeping staff motivated and well is more important than ever for recruitment and retention.
At Tes we wanted to see how the global school community was feeling right now and gauge how we could support schools going forward.
How are school staff feeling?
The 2022 Tes International Wellbeing Survey was answered by over 4,300 teachers and school staff from across the globe and shone a light on the lasting effects of the pandemic on staff wellbeing. There were five main themes that the global teaching community shared their thoughts on.
Under the topic of Work-life balance, flexibility and resources, 49 per cent of staff said their workload was manageable. While on the face of it, this isn’t particularly encouraging, this is in stark contrast to colleagues in UK schools where only 18 per cent said it was manageable.
Over half of the international respondents said that they were currently afforded the opportunity to work flexibly, while 56 per cent said that they would like this to be improved.
The area of Autonomy, active participation and confidence was one of positivity for the international teaching community, where 70 per cent of staff said they felt confident performing their roles. At almost double the result for UK staff, at just 38 per cent (down from 79 per cent last year), this is a real achievement.
However, something that could be improved was the level of disenfranchisement international school staff feel, with 37 per cent saying that they felt they didn’t have a voice about how things go in the day-to-day running of their school.
Under the theme of ‘Goals and development’ more than half of the respondents said that they are working towards goals that matter to them, which is a positive result. However, 62 per cent of respondents would like to see opportunities for career development improved at their school and 31 per cent of respondents say they do not get opportunities to develop and would like them.
In relation to ‘Pride, enjoyment and relationships’ more than half of international respondents (54 per cent) said they find their job fun, compared to only a fifth of the UK respondents. There was mixed feedback on recommendations, with the majority of respondents saying they were proud to work for their school, and yet only 49 per cent of them saying they would recommend their school as place to work to their friends.
However, more than three quarters of those surveyed said they feel like they’re part of a team at work and 77 per cent said they felt staff at their schools have good relationships with students.
‘Leadership, vision and support’ was another positive area for international schools. 60 per cent of respondents said they felt their schools had a strong vision for the future. However, when it came to the sharing of information, teachers felt more could be done, with a third of teachers feeling that information is not shared effectively between staff.
Management support scored well with 70 per cent of respondents saying that they felt supported by their management – although two-thirds of these would still like to see this support improved. When asked about wellbeing, 55 per cent said their school had a clear wellbeing strategy in place, but 67 per cent said they would also like to see this improved.
Looking after staff to improve your school
There are leaders at international schools who are already treating staff wellbeing as a priority.
For example, Matt Payne, Head of lower school at Nord Anglia International School in New York, schedules activities into the school calendar throughout the year to support colleagues that are away from home and unable to travel to see family. Events are scheduled outside of school to change the environment, get people socialising and help build positive relationships that can strengthen trust and rapport back in the school building.
Meanwhile Rami Madani, Head of school at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, has made “Nurturing wellness” one of the school’s four strategic priorities. This work had been going on way before the pandemic started, so the school has been well placed to tackle the challenges when they arrived. Including wellbeing in his strategic plan has made it clear to staff and the wider community that it is an integral component in achieving the school’s vision and mission.
While international schools have faced some quite incredible challenges in the last two years, their staff remain confident in their abilities and continue to enjoy their roles. However, there are a number of areas where international schools could improve in order to remain competitive and attract the very best teachers.
Work-life balance, flexibility and workload are all key concerns, and leaders would be wise to explore the many options available to improve these, from flexible timetabling to more part-time opportunities. Staff wellbeing has a direct impact on children’s education – if schools can support their teachers there are enormous benefits waiting to be realised.
Jon Romer-Lee is Director of Research & Strategy at Tes.
For more resources on School Wellbeing please visit: www.tes.com/wellbeing
Download the full 2022 Tes International Staff Wellbeing Report here: https://tes.com/staff-wellbeing-report-international
TES is a leading international provider of software, recruitment, and training to schools in the UK and overseas.
Feature Image: by Pexels on Pixabay