CPI School Behaviour Survey - Part 2

June 13, 2023
Classroom of students facing whiteboard raising hands

Continued from CPI's School Behaviour Survey - Part 1

4. Behaviour is now a major contributor to teachers leaving the profession

With educators leaving the profession up 12.4% on the previous year, Schools Week also reported that only 11% of the 36,262 teachers leaving the profession in 2022 were due to retirement.
Furthermore, according to the School Workforce Census, approximately 12.5% of newly qualified teachers drop out of the profession after just a year. Only 2/3 are still teaching after 5 years.  
In our survey, we asked educators to help explain the cause/s of why we see so many leave the teaching workforce. More than 4 in every 5 respondents (81%) told us that disruptive behaviour is now a major contributing factor for educators leaving the profession. The reasons cited above - lack of alignment with senior leadership, decreasing parent support, deteriorating behaviour post-covid - are all consistent with why educators feel learner behaviour affects workforce retention.
Despite deteriorating behaviour contributing to increasing levels of resignations, only 2/3 of teachers reported having any training to help manage learner behaviour. Of those who did, only 31.8% said they felt the learning objectives from the training had been well-embedded across their faculty.
Cultural reasons were cited among the top reasons for why training outcomes do not become embedded across the school, including:

  • Day-to-day gets in the way

  • Lack of engagement/drive from leadership

  • Staff turnover

  • Lack of staff to properly implement training

The latter two reasons (staff turnover and lack of staff to properly implement training) fuels a concern that learner behaviour and staff resignations have become a continuing cycle, such that:

Learning cycle chart

5. Learner Mental Health – A New Hope

The covid pandemic affected us all, none more so perhaps than children of school age. The unprecedented disruption to the day-to-day routine of going to school and, just as impactful, the inconsistency of school closures triggered a nationwide spotlight on the mental health of schoolchildren. Social development and the inherent resilience built-up from new, daily experiences was sorely missed during 2020 and 2021.
Perhaps the most unsurprising, yet still incredibly saddening statistic to come from our respondents was in response to the following statement: “How has learner mental health changed since COVID-19?”, an overwhelming 93% of respondents stated they felt learner mental health had deteriorated or significantly deteriorated. The data showed that those working in secondary schools reported worsened mental health change than those in primary schools.
Respondents cited disrupted transitions for learners moving up to secondary school as one such cause of poorer mental health in secondary schools. Overall, the top three contributors for poor mental health were stated to be:

  1. Adverse Childhood Experience (e.g. parents separation, bereavement, abuse) - 77.1% (or respondents felt this was a key contributor to poor mental health)

  2. Social Media – 67.8%

  3. Social Deprivation – 41.1%

When asked “What are the areas of most concern, with respect to learner mental health?”, respondents answered:

  1. Anxiety

  2. Resilience

  3. Stress

  4. Depression (including low mood)

  5. Self-harm

The more positive news was that, schools have clearly recognised the issue and have taken action. We asked educators whether they felt “well-equipped to spot the signs of deteriorating mental health of my learners" – encouragingly, almost ¾ (72%) of respondents said they do. A similar number, 68.9% said they felt “well-equipped to intervene if a learner displayed signs of poor mental health".
When asked which initiatives had their school implemented to support learner mental health, the most frequently-occurring were:

  • In-person counselling services

  • Designated safe spaces

  • Training (e.g. Mental Health First Aid)

  • Digital wellbeing services / app

So, while the decline in mental health among learners is far from being resolved, there are reasons to be positive that school interventions and government funding initiatives – such as investment into the development of school mental health leads – are being implemented.

Survey Summary

This year’s CPI School Behaviour Survey has confirmed some assumptions, but challenged others. What is clear, is that we are rapidly reaching a critical moment in the education profession. With more teachers leaving the profession, the cost of recruiting new staff will become too large to ignore – or do something about.

Behaviour is now cited as a major contributing factor to educators leaving the profession and a lack of adequate training to manage medium and high-level disruptive behaviour is a concern shared by many educators.

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School Workforce Census: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-workforce-in-england
Schools Week: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfe-teacher-vacancy-pay-jobs-recruitment-data/