Factors Affecting Secondary Teacher Wellbeing in England: Self-perceptions, Policy and Politics

McQuade, Laura (2021) Factors Affecting Secondary Teacher Wellbeing in England: Self-perceptions, Policy and Politics. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

Factors Affecting Secondary Teacher Wellbeing in England: Self-perceptions, Policy and Politics
PhD Thesis
McQuade, Laura - PhD (Professional) - Education.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


The ONS (2016) reports that secondary school teachers in England have above average
wellbeing, but Foster (2019) states that recruitment to teaching has been below target
year on year since 2011 and 32.3% of teachers leave the profession before completing
five years in the job. After the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NEU (2021)
report that one in three teachers plan to leave the profession in the next five years.
Therefore, there is a disparity between reported wellbeing and the way teachers are
reacting to their working conditions. The language which has been used to examine
teachers attitudes has focused on workload, with extensive surveys and guidance reports
being published by the DfE (2016, 2016a, 2016b and 2016c) but this has not affected
the wastage rate of the profession. This suggests that there is something deeper at work,
so this study aims to understand how the interplay of the neoliberalisation of the global
education industry, English education policy and the leadership styles that facilitate
this, affect the wellbeing of teachers in secondary education.
The literature demonstrates how supra-scale theories are passed down through macro
and meso processes to impact individuals and affect their wellbeing. Therefore, a
hierarchy of levels of control that impact on education and individuals is proposed. The
Literature Review tracks the influence of governmentality (Foucault, 1982) through
neoliberalism and continues by exploring national education policy and how this is
adapted through policy borrowing from other countries, such as Chile. The influence of
this on leadership styles in schools is discussed in relation to the characteristics of
transactional and transformational leadership. Finally, the impact of these factors on
individual teachers is analysed in relation to their varying professionalisms.
A critical theory, mixed method approach is used to gain a breadth and depth of
understanding of the attitudes of 55 respondents to a survey and 17 participants in semi�structured interviews. All data collection was carried out in secondary schools in
Lincolnshire, where teacher pay is good in comparison to the county average of
workforce pay as a whole. The purpose of these methods is to test the assumption that
concerns about workload and pay are causing teachers’ discontent.
The findings reveal that teacher attitudes towards their working lives are complex due
to individuals trying to internalise the values of both traditional and new
professionalisms. Due to this, teachers can appear contradictory in their demands and toleration of demands of the profession and themselves. The characteristics of
neoliberal management including transactional leadership, competition and
ambivalence to processes in favour of outcomes, do not match traditional professional
values of dedication, expertise and working for the greater good. The research
concludes that this reflects the premise of Mills (1959), who suggests that when there
is a misalliance between societal expectation and the expectations of the individual, a
feeling of ill-ease results.

Keywords:Teaching, secondary education, COVID-19, neoliberalism
Subjects:X Education > X330 Academic studies in Secondary Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:48477
Deposited On:08 Mar 2022 11:34

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