Well-being and burnout in teaching: unpacking the causes and tackling the problems

This project, conducted jointly between University of Leeds, National Education Union, and National Association of Schoolmasters &Union of Women Teachers, examines the causes of well-being and burnout in teaching, generating a range of practitioner-focused guides and support materials, focused on tackling stress, improving well-being and mental health, and reducing burnout.

This much-needed work comes amidst a crisis in the teaching profession. Teacher absences from work are increasing, and nearly one in three teachers leave the profession within five years of qualifying (Department for Education, 2017). Teachers are twice as likely as the average worker to suffer work-related stress and burnout, whilst poor mental health amongst teachers is known to be increasing (National Foundation for Educational Research, 2017). Meanwhile, government recruitment initiatives, such as providing financial incentives to enter the teaching profession, appear to be failing.

This project analyses the causes of burnout and poor well-being rather than the symptoms. Investigating resources to reduce burnout and improve management practices can help reduce teacher absence and staff turnover and thus teacher retention. In turn, these understandings will help to tackle the negative consequences of teacher burnout for children’s education and well-being, generating economic benefits and enhancing social cohesion.


  • Conceptual: Involving teachers and other stakeholders to co-produce knowledge about burnout, well-being and mental health in teaching.
  • Instrumental: The resource developed and dissemination workshops will help to promote changes to behaviours amongst managers, unions, leaders and policy makers, leading to more productive management and ethical leadership.
  • Capacity-building: We will strengthen avenues for impact by involving practitioners as active agents in writing recommendations for the management, reduction and elimination of burnout and improvement of well-being. 

Publications and outputs

Projected outputs during the project

  • Stakeholder events to inform the development of briefing documents, blogs, the guide to avoiding and eliminating burnout and case studies.
  • Briefing documents, written by Forde, Mathieson and Hanks, summarising knowledge about burnout causes and consequences after stakeholder events.
  • Project website with resources hosted at the University of Leeds.
  • Blog for rapid reaction to policy/news on burnout, wellbeing and mental health amongst teachers.
  • Guide to avoiding and managing teacher burnout and well-being with resources for teachers, managers, HR and unions.
  • Posters and leaflets providing guidance for teachers, managers, unions and leaders, written jointly by Forde, Mathieson and Hanks with input from external partners.
  • Dissemination workshops with HR practitioners/senior managers, union representatives, and teachers where the resources developed will be showcased and discussed. Hosted by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, NASUWT and NEU.
  • Journal articles, targeting BERJ.

Actual outputs

  • Blogs and briefings hosted on the website:


Project website