What are the biggest challenges facing teachers today?

What are the biggest challenges facing teachers today?

What are the biggest challenges facing teachers?

A recent news headline in the Guardian read “Record numbers of teachers are quitting the profession.”

In 2021-22 almost 9% of the teaching workforce left state schools before retirement. An astonishingly high number and a situation that is clearly not sustainable.  Whilst there’s plenty of press speculation about the underlying macro causes, there seems to be very little detail about what really goes on behind the classroom doors.  We wanted to understand the real challenges that teachers are having to juggle day in, day out.

To help us, we conducted a short survey amongst Maths Lead Teachers at primary schools across the UK, asking them to rank the biggest challenges facing teachers today.  And without too much of a drum roll here are the results.

The top 5 biggest challenges facing teachers, in order of importance, were:

  1. Having sufficient time to support each student
  2. Teaching different levels of ability within a class
  3. Students not having the pre-requisite knowledge in place
  4. Encouraging students to practise
  5. Parental engagement
Top 5 biggest challenges facing teachers

As with any survey, opinions vary, but these top 5 were consistently cited as the most pressing issues. Almost 70% of the 120 respondents had the same challenges in their Top 5.

The remaining challenges in order of importance were:-

  1. Budgets
  2. Time spent tracking student performance to identify gaps in knowledge
  3. Student improvement & results
  4. Availability of hardware (laptops, tablets etc)
  5. Student absence
  6. Time spent marking work
  7. Time spent sourcing and preparing resources for lessons
  8. Student behaviour & attitude
  9. Language barriers
  10. Time spent sourcing and preparing resources for homework

You can see the results in more detail in the chart below

The biggest challenge - time

Having sufficient time to support each student was overwhelmingly the biggest challenge cited by primary teachers.  Many teachers go into teaching to try to do just that but unfortunately, it’s become incredibly challenging to achieve in a classroom setting. 

But everything is linked

Not having time to support students is a result of issues that lie elsewhere.
It takes more time to teach students in a class with a wide range of abilities, and without that time, the tendency is to teach-to-the-middle.
Inevitably this means that some students aren’t pushed and others can be left behind, with gaps being created in their knowledge.

Time is a big challenge facing teachers

It takes more time to plug the gaps in pre-requisite knowledge, but if it doesn’t happen, the problems only get bigger over time and disillusionment can soon set in with children.  This in turn can have a significant impact on attitude and motivation to practise.   

Parental engagement

Without parental engagement, students are solely reliant on their already time-stretched teacher for someone to motivate them and provide the necessary support.

There is so much more that parents could do to help their child and research has shown that parental engagement can have a huge impact on a child’s outcomes. 

Interestingly, teachers in schools with lower Ofsted ratings (below Good), or those with a higher % of Free School Meals ranked parental engagement as the second most pressing issue, much higher than the overall average.

Somewhat surprisingly outside the Top 5, given the amount of publicity it gets, are budgets.

Everyone always wants more money.  If teachers are already stretched and unable to support each student as they’d like, then inevitably money could help. But the psychology of budgets is that they should always be challenging, so that people continue to seek more efficient methods.  

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask whether there are alternative, more efficient ways...

What if technology could help teach students at their own level and plug gaps in learning?

What if technology could engage parents and encourage them to support their child’s progress? 

What if technology could release more time for teachers to provide support?  

Plytime Learning has been created to tackle the most important challenges faced by teachers, so that they can focus on adding the most value. 

Below is a graphical representation of the survey results. 

The red circles show where Plytime Learning has been specifically designed to make a difference.

Plytime biggest challenges facing teachers survey results

A huge thanks to the 120 teachers who took the time to participate in the survey and share their views. 

If you would like to understand how Plytime Learning could help you and your students, please get in touch.

  • Post last modified:1st July 2024