How much do teachers need their half term holiday? Research seeks to find out

4th May 2016

Research conducted by City University in collaboration with Education Support Partnership seeks to find out how much teachers need their half term holiday.

Starting this May, academics from City University London will be conducted the second round of a valuable piece of research, conducted in close collaboration with the Education Support Partnership, looking into the psychological value of the school holidays for teacher health resilience and wellbeing.

As part of the study, the City academics are today calling on teachers to give a little of their time each week (around 10 minutes) to complete confidential surveys over an eight week period before and after the coming half term holiday. The research team are keen to hear from all levels of teaching staff, primary and secondary, to build a full picture in addition to that gained in the first round of research conducted late last year.

As part of a previous phase of the study, Dr Paul Flaxman and his team asked a group of 90 school teachers from schools across the UK to complete brief surveys at the end of eight consecutive weeks, capturing the period before, during, and after the two week Christmas break in 2013 as well as a sample of teachers in Quebec in Canada.

The results showed that the Christmas break was of vital importance to allow teachers’ emotional energy resources and psychological health to be restored. Also, teachers who continued worrying and ruminating about work during the Christmas break were less likely to recover fully from the demands of the teaching term, and that teachers who were able to satisfy three ‘basic psychological needs’ - namely; a sense of competence, autonomy and feeling close and connected to other people - during the Christmas break had much higher levels of psychological health.

Interestingly the effects of basic psychological need fulfilment were seen not only during the Christmas break itself, but also in the first few weeks of the new term in January.

Speaking about the study, Dr Paul Flaxman, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Psychology at City University London, said: “Our work shows that breaks for teachers, especially at times like half-term, are incredibly important for their psychological health. Ensuring that teachers have regular opportunities to recover from the considerable demands of the job will help to prevent burnout. In my opinion, it is vital that these regular breaks in the school calendar are conserved.”

Julian Stanley, CEO of the Education Support Partnership said “As the only UK charity providing counselling and support services for individuals and organisations in education almost half of the calls we at the Education Support Network receive are related to mental health conditions including stress, anxiety and depression.”

He continues “Given this we are only too aware of the stresses and strains of the job and so we hope that by working with City University on their ongoing research project we will be able to better understand how teachers can make sure they maximise the benefits of restorative breaks so they can come back refreshed and ready to face life back at school.”

To get involved with the City University London research project prospective participants should contact Dr Flaxman and his team on teachers.wellbeing@city.ac.uk . Participants will need to register by mid-May to share their own experiences. The research is completely confidential and all participants will receive feedback on the results, along with some practical tips and recommendations for improving their own well-being and personal resilience. Read more about the study here: http://www.city.ac.uk/assessing-teachers-well-being

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To speak to Dr Paul Flaxman, please contact George Wigmore, Senior Communications Officer at the School of Health Sciences, City University London.

E: george.wigmore.1@city.ac.uk
T: 0207 040 8782
M: 07989 643 112

For information about the Education Support Partnership contact Rachel Gatley, PR Consultant
E: Rachel.Gatley@edsupport.org.uk
T: 07563 267907

About City University London

City University London is a global University committed to academic excellence, with a focus on business and the professions and an enviable central London location.  It is in the top five per cent of universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013/14 and in the top thirty universities in the UK according to the Times Higher Education Table of Tables 2012. It is ranked in the top 10 in the UK for both graduate-level jobs (The Good University Guide 2014) and in the top 5 for graduate starting salaries (Lloyds Bank).

The University attracts over 17,000 students (35% at postgraduate level) from more than 150 countries and academic staff from over 50 countries.  Its academic range is broadly-based with world leading strengths in business; law; health sciences; engineering; mathematical sciences; informatics; social sciences; and the arts including journalism and music. The University’s history dates back to 1894, with the foundation of the Northampton Institute on what is now the main part of City’s campus. In 1966, City was granted University status by Royal Charter and the Lord Mayor of London was invited to be Chancellor, a unique arrangement that continues today. Professor Paul Curran has been Vice-Chancellor of City University London since 2010.

About Education Support Partnership

The Education Support Partnership is a charity dedicated to individuals and organisations working in education, in schools FE and HE. We provide support regarding the emotional health, wellbeing of education staff as well as professional and organisational development. This includes a 24/7 helpline, telephone counselling, money management, grants, peer to peer support groups, coaching, employee assistance programmes, training, information and signposting.

To get support call: 08000 562 561 or to find out more or visit www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk