The Education Workforce Council (EWC), has published the findings from a survey of 78,000 education professionals in Wales .
Conducted alongside the Welsh Government, trade unions and employers, the survey sought the views of staff in schools, further education, work-based learning and youth work.
The study, carried out between January and May this year, found there was optimism among respondents about their future in the profession, their own professional development, and the continued importance of online learning.
For the majority of practitioners, career development and progression is a top priority. Over two thirds said that they intended to continue to develop their practice over the coming years and progress to more senior roles.
Over 60% of practitioners saw the benefits of continuing with blended or digital learning after the pandemic, with many feeling confident in their ability to deliver this with further training, support and resources. While high numbers (around 70%) felt COVID-19 had impacted on their wellbeing over the past 12 months, they believed they had been well supported by their employers during this period and felt secure in their jobs.
However, of the 10,633 respondents, many reported high workload, excess paperwork and concerns over their readiness for the new curriculum.
Concerns over workload were most notable for teaching staff in schools and FE, with 65% and 70% respectively declaring that they were unable to manage their current workload. Support staff and those in work-based learning and youth work did not have the same level of concern.
Many school teachers and leaders do not feel prepared to deliver the new curriculum, due to be introduced in 2022. Around half (51.1%) of school leaders agreed that they felt prepared to deliver the new curriculum, compared with one third (33.3%) of school teachers.
Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said:
“I’m grateful to EWC for their work on this survey, and am especially pleased to note the high proportion of practitioners who feel their workplaces have supported them throughout the pandemic.
“We recognise this has been a difficult time for everyone in education, and it’s good to see the level of confidence which staff have in the support provided by their employers – particularly as we go into the new school year.
“We recently published a refreshed Journey to 2022 document which sets out how the sector will work together to support schools in confidently delivering the new curriculum, and we continue to work with the sector across Wales to support staff and learners.”
David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru added:
“NEU Cymru was supportive of the survey as we need to continually ask key questions of everyone in the profession, if we are to ensure a clear understanding of the pressures they face on a daily basis.
"Education provision, and expectations on staff, is constantly changing. We have to know what those expectations are, and how we are able to improve matters for the benefit of everyone in education, including learners in Wales.
"Workload, wellbeing, new ways of learning, lessons learned during the pandemic, professional learning and the implementation of the new curriculum are significant issues for education in Wales. Most important now is how we react to the findings of the survey and NEU Cymru looks forward to being involved in those considerations.”
Hayden Llewellyn, EWC Chief Executive commented:
“These results lift the lid on many of the professional challenges faced by staff across the whole of the education workforce in Wales. We encourage government and key policy makers to take heed of what the profession has said.”