By Orna Herr, Communications Officer at the British Science Association


Towards the end of 2022, Education Support, a charity whose mission it is to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff, published their annual Teacher Wellbeing Index.

Based on a YouGov survey of just over 3,000 education staff taken in the summer of 2022, the results are sobering.

The report highlights how work-related stress is negatively impacting education staff’s mental health and wellbeing, and is causing many to consider leaving the profession, particularly during a time of inflation, budget cuts and a cost of living crisis.

Unsustainable working conditions

Stress levels have increased since 2021, with an average of 75% of education staff across all levels describing themselves as stressed, up from 72% in 2021. By job role, 84% of senior leaders, 72% of school teachers and 68% of support staff say they are stressed – a rise from 60% last year for the latter.

Across all levels, 78% of staff have experienced symptoms of poor mental health due to work.

Many people get in education to make a difference in children’s lives and out of passion for their subject. Yet the Index shows that many are experiencing intolerable stress levels, mental health problems and a lack of wellbeing support at work.    

For half the education staff surveyed, 55%, these reasons and others have pushed them to actively seek to change or leave their current job over the past academic year.

The two top reasons staff want to leave are the volume of workload (68%) and to achieve a better work-life balance (63%). Other prominent reasons include a lack of resources (48%), the desire for higher pay (40%) and mental health concerns (39%).

Just 7% of those who are considering or seeking to leave the profession were retiring.

How we support teachers with CREST

Teachers and other education staff are, to use a perhaps clichéd phrase but in this instance an apt one, the backbone of society. The impact a good education has on a child’s future, their ability to contribute to their community and to build a life and career that allows them to fulfil their potential, cannot be underestimated. As a society, we need to value education staff, whose work is an investment in all our futures.

Part of our mission at the British Science Association is to promote STEM* education and support teachers as much as we can. The primary way we do this is through our flagship education programme, CREST Awards.

CREST Awards is a scheme that encourages children and young people aged 5-19 to think and behave like scientists and engineers through adaptable science activities and projects.

We know that lesson planning and access to resources can, respectively, be time-consuming and present an obstacle to certain activities and experiments. CREST is designed to try and help alleviate these issues.

CREST is aligned with the curriculums of all nations of the UK, for both primary and secondary levels. Teachers can slot CREST projects into their lesson plans to cover the topics required in the curriculum. For example, to cover forces and motion on the Key Stage 4 physics curriculum, teachers could run our ‘How do rockets work?’ activity.

Find out how to use CREST in the science curriculum.

We’ve also created a series of CREST Awards projects which do not require much equipment or resources to run, to ensure a lack of physical resources won't be a barrier to participation.

Discover our low-resource CREST projects.

Apply for funding

For a small fee, you can submit your pupils’ completed projects to us for assessment. We will then issue each pupil a personalised certificate. These certificates give children a great sense of achievement, and, in the case of secondary students, can be included on UCAS personal statements and other application forms to demonstrate passion, aptitude and ability in STEM.

At a time when school budgets are stretched more than ever, we understand that the funds needed for paying this fee might simply not be there. This is why we offer CREST grants to schools in challenging circumstances, providing funding of up to £600 to cover the cost of registration fees, staff CPD, any equipment you might need and other expenses.

The current round of grants closes at 11.59pm on 22 January, so there is still time to apply!

How CREST grants can make a difference

Andrea Simms, a teacher at Northgate High School, which has a high number of students on pupil premium, received a grant last year to run CREST Awards with her science club.

She shared her experiences of running CREST and how her students benefitted in this series of video clips.

Free British Science Week resources

British Science Week 2023 is coming very soon on 10-19 March, a ten-day celebration of STEM in schools and homes around the UK.

To help teachers plan activities to allow their students to enjoy the Week, we offer free activity packs on this year’s theme of ‘Connections’ for early years, primary and secondary age children and young people – there’s something for everyone.

The packs are completely free to download and many of the activities require few resources outside of common classroom materials. The full packs will be available later in January. For now, check out our incredible taster packs, which include information on how to plan for the Week, and a couple of sneak peek activities to get started with.

Download our free British Science Week taster packs.

For the benefit of teachers and children alike, for the benefit of the future of society as a whole, we need to ensure that a career in education is enjoyable, rewarding and appealing. We will continue to do our best to support and inspire teachers and all education staff with accessible resources, funding and guidance to bring science to life.

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*STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and maths