State of education annual NEU members survey 2023

The State of Education 2023

The annual survey of NEU members.


Conference press releases

State of education 2023: mental health

A quarter of respondents say they have no access to CAMHS for their students and 80% say that excessive workload is a barrier to getting the right help for their pupils.

Executive Summary

Recruitment and retention

  • One in six teachers plan to quit the education sector within the next two years; two-fifths plan to quit within five years.
  • A quarter of school support staff plan to quit within two years, and half intend to leave within five years.
  • Workload is the main reason teachers intend to quit, followed by the feeling that the profession is not valued or trusted, followed by pay.
  • Pay is the top reason school support staff say they intend to leave, followed by the feeling that the profession is not valued or trusted, and a lack of career progression.
  • Members reported a worsening since pre-pandemic on almost every measure of recruitment and retention in their workplace.
  • Three-quarters of members say school sickness absence has worsened since before Covid
  • Most members said they had reduced home heating in order to save energy costs; around a quarter had skipped meals and a fifth took on a second job in response to rising living costs.
  • Four in ten teachers and half of school support staff have “acted up” into a role in the past year due to staff shortages, however only around a fifth were paid to do so.

Workload and wellbeing

  • Almost half of teachers told us that their workload is unmanageable most or all of the time. Another third reported that their workload is only just manageable.
  • These figures show no improvement on last year.
  • Stress levels among educators are dangerously high.
  • Over two thirds of teachers say they feel stressed more than 60% of the time they are at work, including over a third who are stressed more than 80% of the time.
  • Almost half of school support staff are stressed at least 60% of their time at work, including a fifth are stressed more than 80% of the time.
  • Two-thirds of teachers and a third of school support staff worry very often about the impact of workload on their wellbeing; almost all worry about it at least occasionally.
  • The most widely-supported Government actions on workload are those needing finance: increased funding for staffing, and greater classroom support for pupils with additional needs.
  • The most popular workplace action to support wellbeing among teachers would be a reduction in workload; among support staff it would be an improved working environment.


  • All members still feel very positive about their ability to make a difference to their pupils, both in terms of their educations and their broader lives.
  • Teachers feel overwhelmingly negative about the status of the profession and their own work-life balance.
  • Teachers are less likely to say they are fully able to exercise their professional judgement on aspects of work than a year ago.
  • When asked about various types of CPD, around a third of teachers had either not received any or not received enough of each type in the past year.
  • Over a third of teachers say the CPD they were asked to undertake outside working hours was too much.
  • A quarter of school support staff said they had not received any in-person CPD in the past year; another quarter said they had received some, but not enough.

Pupil/student poverty

  • Almost all members said that poverty impacts on pupils’ learning.
  • Teachers in the most disadvantaged schools are twice as likely to say poverty impacts learning “to a large extent” as teachers in the least disadvantaged schools.
  • Three out of five teachers say pupils show signs of hunger at school due to poverty and two-thirds of teachers have pupils coming to school in unclean/damaged or ill-fitting clothes.
  • Over two-thirds of teachers and support staff said that poverty-related hunger and tiredness led to pupils disrupting their lessons.
  • Almost two-thirds of teachers say their pupils have frequent ill-health, a significant increase on previous years.
  • Three-quarters of teachers and support staff say either their school or they personally help with uniform for disadvantage pupils.
  • Two-thirds of teachers and support staff say they or their school help with period products; three in five say they or their school provide extra food for hungry pupils.
  • Four fifths of teachers back free school meals (FSM) for all primary school pupils; six out of seven back giving holiday food vouchers worth at least £15pw to pupils in receipt of FSM.

Pupil/student mental health

  • The mental health of pupils/students continues to be a concern, exacerbated by the lasting effects of the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Over three quarters of teachers felt that there were not enough Learning Support Assistants.
  • A third of teachers said that there is not enough CAMHS support, and a quarter said their school has no access to CAMHS support at all.
  • Over half of teachers reported that there is insufficient access to a school/college counsellor while over a quarter said there is no access at all.
  • Half of teachers said that they have no mental health lead and over a third said they have insufficient access.
  • Four fifths of teachers and two thirds of support staff say workload is a large barrier to being able to support pupil mental health.
  • Two thirds of teachers and support staff say insufficient school staffing levels create a large barrier to supporting pupil mental health.
  • Two thirds of teachers and support staff say a lack of access to external support services such as CAMHS is a large barrier to supporting pupil mental health.
  • Only one in eight members felt Mental Health Support Teams had allowed their school to provide increased support for mental health issues.


  • Schools very often use punitive measures to promote positive behaviour, even though last year’s survey suggested these are among the least effective approaches.
  • Half of teachers say in-lesson sanctions are used frequently, along with just over a third who use post-lesson sanctions frequently.
  • More supportive measures are also used: half of teachers try to understand of their pupils’ emotional needs frequently to improve behaviour; almost half frequently use strategies to promote good communication with pupils.
  • A third of teachers say they frequently use wellbeing rooms and pastoral support to promote positive behaviour.
  • Support staff are invaluable but in short supply: only a quarter of teachers frequently have support staff in lessons to help promote good behaviour, even though over 40% last year described the approach as “very effective”.


  • Members are much more likely to use supportive measures to improve attendance rather than punitive ones.
  • Five in six teachers said their school uses an approach of engagement with parents/families to improve pupil attendance; six in ten said they offer support for parents and families.
  • Four in ten teachers use flexible timetables and curriculum to increase attendance, and the same proportion use counselling and mental health support.
  • Just a quarter of teacher members said their school makes greater use of fines and penalties to improve attendance.


  • About two-thirds of school teachers in England and Wales rate their schools’ inclusion policies as good or excellent, compared with one in ten who rate them as bad.
  • Primary and special school teachers gave higher scores than secondary counterparts for their schools’ plans for girls, black pupils and disabled pupils.
  • Special school teachers were particularly positive about their schools’ plans to tackle discrimination against disabled pupils.
  • Secondary teachers were more likely to think their school’s plan to tackle LGBT+ discrimination was good or excellent than primary school teachers.
  • Consistently fewer teachers from Black, Asian and mixed ethnic backgrounds thought their schools’ plan to tackle barriers and stereotypes were good/excellent than White teachers.

Facilities and the school environment

  • There is a wide disparity in the quality of school facilities between the state and independent sectors.
  • General maintenance of buildings/infrastructure was rated as bad or poor by a quarter of English and Welsh state teachers, compared to one in ten independent school teachers.
  • Ventilation was rated as bad or poor by almost a third of English and Welsh state school teachers, compared to one in six independent school teachers.
  • Arts facilities were rated as bad or poor by almost a third of English state school teachers; over a third of Welsh state school teachers; and one in eight independent school teachers.
  • Outdoor recreational space was rated as good or excellent by around half of English and Welsh state teachers at their schools, and by three quarters of independent school teachers.
  • School preparedness for extreme weather was rated as bad or poor by around four in ten English and Welsh state school teachers, and by a quarter of independent school teachers.
  • Energy efficiency was rated as bad or poor by almost four in ten English state school teachers; by just over a third of Welsh state school teachers; and just under a third of independent school teachers.

Oak National Academy

  • Only around a fifth of teachers use Oak National Academy resources.
  • Around a quarter of secondary teachers use Oak, compared to around one in six primary or special school teachers.
  • One in five support staff in English state schools use Oak.
  • A quarter of teachers using Oak reported that it had decreased their workload, two thirds reported no impact and one in twenty said that it had increased their workload.
  • A third of secondary teachers that used Oak said it had reduced their workload, compared with a fifth of primary teachers that used it and one in six special school teachers.
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