Stressed-out school staff have laid bare the biggest stress challenges in their working lives – with burnout and bad behaviour ranking highest on the list. 

Around 46 per cent of those who took part in a Reddit poll said they were feeling exhausted to the point of burnout, while 38 per cent said bad student behaviour was wearing them down.

The research from Access Education, an education technology specialist, took the pulse of the nation’s teachers on the r/TeachingUK subreddit – which boasts 32,700 members.

Just under 1,150 responded to the poll, with many highlighting their biggest headaches in the comments section. They included poor leadership, difficult parents and too much paperwork.

Biggest stressors for teachers 

Issue Poll Vote
Burnout / workload 533 (46.3% of vote)
Poor behaviour from students 441 (38.4% of vote)
Pay 71 (6.2% of vote)
Ofsted inspections 57 (5% of vote)
Class sizes 30 (2.6% of vote)
Job security 17 (1.5% of vote)


Access Education also looked at the most hotly-debated topics on r/TeachingUK to find out the top 10 stressors facing teachers today. Once again, workload and mental health are both major concerns, accounting for four out of 10 threads. 

But top of the list was the PGCE – known for being a gruelling year for trainee teachers who have to combine study with the demands of working in a real classroom. While some concerns seem relatively minor, such as what to wear for placements, someone asked whether consecutive 15-hour days were the norm.

Top 10 issues according to r/teachinguk 

Issue Number of posts from the past year
PGCE 236 (22.5% of posts)
Stress/ful/ing 161 (15.4% of posts)
Workload 152 (14.5% of posts)
Strikes / Teacher Strikes 119 (11.4% of posts)
Exam/s 90 (8.6% of posts)
Ofsted 68 (6.5% of posts)
Anxiety 66 (6.3% of posts)
GCSE 56 (5.3% of posts)
Marking 50 (4.8% of posts)
Overwhelmed 50 (4.8% of posts)


Emma Slater, Head of Publishing at Access Education, said:

“The past few years have been extremely challenging for teachers – first with Covid, and now the cost of living crisis and industrial action. This is on top of the usual stress factors, like disruptive behaviour and heavy workloads. Teachers are leaving the profession, sometimes just a few years after qualifying, and the government is struggling to recruit new ones.”

She added that while there will always be challenges outside schools’ control, there are steps they can take to reduce stress:

“When the senior leadership team, support staff and teachers have the right technology in place, they can start to make positive changes. Technology can help to reduce unnecessary admin, improve communication with parents to encourage better behaviour and enable HR managers to proactively identify and address burnout.”

For more information about this research, visit https://www.theaccessgroup.com/en-gb/education/resources/schools-biggest-secret-stressors-revealed/