New research published today by the Education Review Office (ERO) has found teachers and principals are increasingly struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We know that Covid-19 has had a big impact on teachers and principals. They have had to react quickly and adapt the way they work. This research has found many examples of how teachers and principals have innovated to meet the needs of their students and communities. But this has come at a cost. Teachers’ and principals’ enjoyment in their work is low and declining, and they are finding workloads increasingly unmanageable,” says Ruth Shinoda, Head of ERO’s Education Evaluation Centre.
“Only half of teachers reported being happy at work when we talked to them in June and July, a decline from nearly two thirds in September 2020.”
Younger teachers are struggling more. For example, teachers under 35 years old were three times as likely to say they were not happy at work compared to those over 46 years old.
Teachers and principals are increasingly struggling with workloads. In June and July only a third of teachers and a fifth of principals felt their workload was manageable. This had worsened from September 2020. Principals of very small schools were nearly twice as likely to report that their workload was unmanageable compared to principals of very large schools.
Teachers’ workload has also been impacted by the support they need to provide for students’ learning and engagement and the need to address growing behaviour concerns. In June and July, around one third of principals reported that student behaviour was worse than they would have expected for that time of the year.
Auckland has experienced more disruption than any other area, impacting particularly on Auckland teachers’ and principals’ wellbeing. This was clear even before the most recent lockdown and is likely to have worsened.
“Looking forward, we know that our teachers and principals will need to continue to deal with ongoing disruptions as we live with Covid-19. Many schools are already changing their teaching practices to meet these challenges and our report sets out examples of how schools can prepare for 2022,” says Ms Shinoda.
“But teachers and principals cannot be left to meet these challenges alone. Our report also sets out what supports we think will be needed for teachers and principals, including through stronger networks.
“Teaching in a Covid-19 world is staffing-intensive, and we also expect to see an increase in staff absences as Covid-19 becomes more widespread in our communities. Schools will need contingency plans to deal with staff absences and there may be opportunities to pool staffing across schools.
ERO hopes that schools and the wider education sector find these findings helpful for understanding the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on teachers and principals and how we can prepare for 2022.
This report is the latest in a suite of Learning in a Covid-19 World reports from ERO on the impact of Covid-19 on education in New Zealand.