Teacher confidence and self-belief have collapsed in the wake of Covid-19, according to research.

Only 38 per cent of those surveyed for the latest TES Staff Wellbeing report said they felt confident in their roles – down from 79% in last year’s study.

And more than two thirds (67%) of UK teachers who took part warned their workload was simply unmanageable. This is much higher than the international figure of 36%.

Scottish ministers have insisted they are committed to boosting staff wellbeing and empowerment.

But researchers said educators were “reeling” from the shock of the pandemic and stressed their report had major implications for pupil outcomes.

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Katie Shearer, a principal teacher at St Patrick’s Primary School in Glasgow, said the study should serve as a wake-up call.

“The vocational commitment of teachers should not be used as a vehicle to overwork, guilt trip or compromise teacher mental health,” she added.

“Our commitment to the profession at times can leave us feeling very self-critical, under pressure and trying to manage an overwhelming amount of stress. If practitioners want to be able to make a real difference, our health and wellbeing needs to be a priority, now more than ever.”

The latest TES study contains a range of worrying findings on the state of the UK teaching profession.

Almost half the staff who were surveyed said they felt they lacked a voice that would influence how things are done at school. A similar number complained that they did not have the autonomy necessary to make decisions.

HeraldScotland: Teachers feel their voice doesn't count towards decisions on how things are done at school.Teachers feel their voice doesn't count towards decisions on how things are done at school.

Forty-seven per cent of UK respondents said there were no opportunities for them to develop in their current position, with only around a fifth (22%) feeling such openings existed.

The study also indicates teachers are not enjoying their jobs as much. More than half of those surveyed revealed they were not finding work fun, with fewer than a fifth saying they were.

And, while 81 per cent of UK respondents felt part of a team, only two-fifths thought their colleagues cared about them. This marks a substantial year-on-year drop. In 2020, a clear majority of respondents (66 per cent) said they felt their colleagues cared about them.

Tes Senior Analyst Grainne Hallahan said: “This report shows the damaging effects of the pandemic on the wellbeing of school staff are going to be with us for some time. Teacher wellbeing is on a knife edge as they struggle with increased demands, mounting workloads and a real lack of good CPD. Staff in schools are enjoying their work less and most don’t feel valued as part of a whole school team.

“These are worrying findings for schools, but these problems are not insurmountable.

"By offering staff the right support, training and knowledge that their voices are heard and understood, senior leaders have the opportunity to inspire a dramatic shift in wellbeing at their schools, with all the benefits for teacher retention and pupil outcomes that will bring.”

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Sinéad McBrearty, chief executive of Education Support, a charity dedicated to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees in schools, colleges and universities, warned teachers and other staff were struggling with heavy, intense workloads. She added: “They are struggling with work-life balance and often don’t receive enough of the right support.

“This report sheds light on the severe impact of the pandemic on the teaching profession. Wellbeing has to be at the heart of our education system, and a central part of the education recovery agenda. Proper recognition of the importance of teacher mental health is essential to support the people who are responsible for teaching and inspiring our children.”

HeraldScotland: The TES findings will give Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville and her officials pause for thought.The TES findings will give Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville and her officials pause for thought.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Teachers have been outstanding throughout the pandemic and we can’t thank them enough. Maintaining the health and wellbeing of our school staff is of the utmost importance.

“Since October 2020 we have invested over £2 million in supporting the wellbeing of the education workforce with packages of support, developed in conjunction with the Education Recovery Group. This support has been in addition to the existing professional learning and leadership programmes which are offered by Education Scotland."

He added: “We are committed to ensuring teachers and school staff are supported in taking the decisions they need to improve outcomes for the children and young people. This is outlined in the June 2017 joint agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA on school empowerment, and is further supported by the Headteachers’ Charter and related empowerment guidance and resources.

“We are also committed to reducing teachers’ class contact time by 90 minutes per week to give them more time to plan and ease their workload.”

An Education Scotland spokeswoman said: “Our focus is, and has always been, on supporting the system and the profession. Over the course of the pandemic, we revised our structure, our approach and our delivery models to allow us to identify and understand the requirements nationally, regionally, and locally and provide the support for teachers and pupils at this time. 

"Throughout the pandemic, we have provided substantial support to local authorities, learners, teachers, and parents through a variety of means to help alleviate pressure on the system. We work with the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) workforce support working group to ensure that staff across the education system feel supported, and to ensure they are able to meet the needs of our learners across the system during these challenging times.”