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IOE Blog


Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


Rising school absence: what do we know and what can we do?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 January 2024

Empty desk in an otherwise full classroom

Credit: Smolaw11 / Adobe.

Lindsey Macmillan and Jake Anders.

The start of 2024 has seen a renewed focus on persistent absenteeism from school, with the Secretary of State for Education announcing a major national drive to improve school attendance, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Education laying out Labour’s plans to ‘rebuild the broken relationship between schools, families and the Government’. Yet this is not a new problem: the issue of persistent absenteeism has been looming since schools returned to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone agrees that the rise in pupil absence since the pandemic is of significant concern. But the causes and what we should do about this are much less clear. (more…)

Ten things we learned about teachers’ anxiety about work during the pandemic

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 4 November 2022

John Jerrim.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to one of the biggest shocks the world has ever seen. Schools were shut, remote instruction became widespread and government policy seemed to be changing overnight. The working conditions of teachers hence suddenly changed, with significant disruption from the pandemic lasting for the next two years.

This is likely to have had a major impact on teachers’ mental health, including their wellbeing at work. As part of a project supported by the Nuffield Foundation, we have tracked teachers’ anxiety about work at 75 points between October 2019 and July 2022.

Specifically, we regularly asked the TeacherTapp panel to answer the following question on a Tuesday afternoon: (more…)

How do mental health problems vary during secondary school?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 5 November 2021

John Jerrim.

Much has been written over the last couple of years about how the Covid-19 pandemic – through a combination of lockdowns, home schooling and self-isolation – has affected the mental wellbeing of young people.

Yet, even before Covid hit our shores, there was growing concern over young people’s mental health. Amongst educationalists, there was particular interest in how this might be linked to their experiences at school.

In this blog, drawing upon data from the pre-Covid era, I take a closer look into the link between schooling and mental health. Specifically, I consider how the treatment of mental health issues varies during children’s time at secondary school, teasing apart the impact of being in a more senior school year group from the effects of age.

Some basic facts

The data I use are drawn from appointments made with primary and secondary healthcare providers in (more…)

Mental Health Awareness Week: listening to young people’s voices

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 13 May 2021

chezbeate / Pixabay

Bea Herbert, Chris Bagley, Vivian Hill, Jaspar Khawaja.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, the Government has announced £17 million to increase training and resources in schools and colleges to support children and young people’s mental health. However, without addressing the broader social circumstances that cause poor mental health, it is unlikely that such policies will resolve the growing mental health crisis.

Furthermore, to be effective, these interventions must be informed by young people’s perspectives about issues affecting their mental health and well-being.

The mental health charity States of Mind and the IOE’s Doctoral programme in Educational Psychology (DEdPsy) have been working together to elicit the voices of children and young people about how their educational experiences influence their mental health and well-being in a project called Education Futures in Action. We believe that understanding the causes of psychological distress, rather than just treating their symptoms, requires much greater attention, and must include young people’s perspectives in order (more…)

Are mental health problems among teachers on the rise?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 28 January 2020

John Jerrim.

How many teachers are struggling with their mental health, and has this changed over time?

This question has long been of interest to teachers and teaching unions, but it has recently received a lot more attention from policymakers.

This includes Ofsted and the Department for Education. While the former released a major report into teacher wellbeing last year, the latter has set up an expert group to drive “real change” in supporting the profession

Underlying this is a belief that the mental health of teachers has been getting worse over a sustained period of time. Yet this belief is poorly evidenced.

Today, I’m releasing findings from a new paper where I provide evidence on trends in teacher mental health and wellbeing over time. 


Children’s mental health and well-being – a truly trickle down issue

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 9 October 2018

IOE Events.
Our first What if…? debate of 2018/19 addressed the provocation What if… we wanted our kids to be happier? We were delighted to be joined by panellists Caroline Hounsell of Mental Health First Aid England; Praveetha Patalay of UCL; Patrick Johnston of Place2Be, and Viv Grant, former head teacher and Director of Integrity Coaching. What emerged from the discussion was just what a trickle down issue children’s mental health is: first in the sense that, for teachers to be able to support young people’s well-being, their own needs to be looked after first; and then there’s the  failure of (for the sake of a short-hand) ‘trickle-down’ economics.
The panel were clear that the prevalence of mental health issues has increased markedly over recent decades, and particularly so in the last few years: the IOE’s birth cohort study data show that today’s parents of teenagers have greater levels of mental health difficulties than parents from a decade ago, while a host of studies document the increased levels of reporting among children, and from ever younger ages.  As last month’s Nuffield Trust report also shows, reduced stigma may account for some of the rise, but by no means all of it. Nowhere are these pressures felt more strongly than in schools – which are themselves simultaneously caught up in the same dynamics and on the frontline of mediating young people’s (more…)