How business can support teachers with unmanageable workloads in 2020

How business can support teachers with unmanageable workloads in 2020

Over 80% of teachers believe workload is contributing to high levels of stress in schools.

Over 80% of teachers believe workload is contributing to high levels of stress in schools.

Rebecca Weatherley-Hastings
Rebecca Weatherley-Hastings
Published: 15th November 2019

Our second week of probing Promethean’s annual report “The State of Technology in Education” uncovered this and several other trends that prompted us to take a closer look at workload and wellbeing in schools.

How do teachers feel about their workload?

While it may come as a surprise to some of us working in the private sector, it won’t shock most educators to discover 80% of their colleagues work in a high-stress environment, 9 out of 10 of which believe streamlined processes and less administrative tasks would improve their workloads. (1)

It’s not just teachers that point to their workloads as contributing to stress in their schools. Nearly 70% of senior management teams also reported high levels of stress generated by the unwieldy workloads shouldered by teachers.

This Promethean report adds more evidence to support the long foregone conclusion that teachers are staggering under the weight of unmanageable workloads.

A 2018 report from the National Education Union surveying nearly 8,200 teachers uncovered that a whopping 81% had considered leaving the profession in the last year because of their workload. In this same report, teachers identified the three greatest forces straining workloads as pressure to improve scores, changes to the curriculum, and inspections. (2)

Trends and opportunities identified:

  • Educators are beginning to look to technology to speed up admin and effectively tackle bureaucracy – promote solutions that can help teachers complete repetitive tasks, improve communication, and simplify admin procedures.
  • Schools are a high-stress work environment – marketing that addresses this pain-point will be relatable for all levels of school staff.
  • The area of teaching practice contributing the most to workloads is the pressure on educators to prove their efficacy through improved test scores – focus on gearing solutions toward alleviating this pressure.

Are teachers and SMTs on the same page?

Despite an increase of nearly 20% in the number of educators that believe their schools are doing more to address unmanageable workloads, from 19.5% last year to 38.2% this year, there remains a difference between how teachers and school leaders perceive the negative effects of heavy workloads.

More than 70% of teachers say their workload is damaging learning compared with 58.1% of SMT members, and nearly 60% of teachers believe their workloads to be unmanageable compared with less than 40% of SMT members.

These stats indicate a meaningful disconnect between teachers and senior leadership. Responses from teachers cite a lack of support from senior leadership as one of the most frustrating aspects of coping with long hours and large workloads.

Trends and opportunities identified:

  • There exists some tension between teachers and SMTs that share different opinions on workload – help teachers and SMTs reconcile their views with solutions and assets that promote communication and collaboration.
  • SMTs are increasingly aware of unmanageable workloads and are seeking to tackle the issue – they will be open to products and services that help them support teachers and alleviate stress in the workplace.

How are heavy workloads affecting teacher retention?

Over half of the respondents to the Promethean survey pointed to long hours and unmanageable workloads as the two greatest threats to teacher retention.

Backed up by the latest figures from the Department of Education that suggest nearly one in three NQTs (newly qualified teachers) leave the job within five years, a third of respondents already see retention as a challenge at their schools, and less than 4% believe their schools are working to resolve the issue. (1,3)

Teachers in mid and late-career are as likely to consider leaving the profession as newly qualified teachers. With fewer working-age teachers remaining in the profession and fewer teachers making it to retirement age, the current shortage of educators isn’t likely to recover any time soon.

Once you see the figures, it becomes easy to understand why both educators and the media have taken to branding this period of difficulty the “teacher retention crisis”.

Trends and opportunities identified:

  • Poor retention is a pain-point for schools and MATs, but it is also a symptom of wider systematic failure – if your product alleviates this pain-point be prepared to explain how.
  • Teaching staff shortages mean fewer teachers are responsible for educating more students – focus on solutions that help teachers effectively manage and connect with growing class sizes.

What is the impact of work-related stress on teachers' wellbeing?

A freedom of information request submitted by the Liberal Democrats in 2018 revealed that there were 3,750 teachers in England on long-term leave due to work-related stress in 2016/17. (4)

The long hours teachers work outside of the classroom result in sacrificing time with friends and family and a poor work-life balance. Educators often report feelings of guilt, stress, and anxiety that eventually give way to illness.

In total, 1.3 million days were taken off between 2014 to 2018 for stress and mental health reasons, including 312,000 in 2016/17 alone. That is equivalent to the loss of nearly 1,700 teachers that work 185 days a year. (4)

Trends and opportunities identified:

  • Leave taken by teachers to address stress and mental health creates an opportunity for agencies and businesses that connect supply teachers with schools to offer support and solutions.
  • Teachers’ wellbeing is slowly eroding from stress - target teachers directly with products and services that can help restore their work-life balance and rejuvenate their health, both physical and mental.

The most important thing businesses marketing to schools should take away from this article:

Tread lightly when marketing workload and wellbeing focussed solutions. The last thing your business wants is to be viewed as exploiting hardworking teachers.

Businesses that market products and services to this area of the education sector need to be aware of and sensitive to the issues facing teachers with unmanageable workloads, especially surrounding wellbeing.

If you are selling solutions to manage workload and wellbeing to schools position yourself and your solutions as considerate, sympathetic, and benevolent.


  1. The State of Technology in Education. (2019). [online] Promethean World. Available at: [Accessed 07 Nov. 2019].
  2. National Education Union (2018). Teachers and Workload: A survey report by the National Education Union on teacher workload in schools and academies. [online] NEU. Available at: [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].
  3. GOV.UK. (2019). School workforce in England: November 2018. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].
  4. Liberal Democrats. (2019). 3,750 teachers in England on long-term stress leave. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2019].

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