Press Release

Robert Bosch Stiftung Representative Survey Reveals Alarmingly High Stress Levels among Teaching Staff in the Third Academic Year Shaped by COVID-19

  • The German School Barometer shows weekend work is the norm for many teachers, with over half suffering from exhaustion.
  • Every tenth teacher would like to drop working hours.
  • Survey also found sharp increase in behavioral problems as well as students falling behind on their learning. 

Stuttgart/Berlin, June 9, 2022: The COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of teaching staff have had a profound impact on German schools. The overwhelming majority of teachers state that they (84%) and their colleagues (92%) are currently experiencing high or very high levels of strain. For more than three quarters of teaching staff (79%), weekend work has become the norm and it is a struggle to fit in recreation during their free time (60%). Half are suffering from physical (62%) or mental exhaustion (46%). More than one in ten teachers (13%) are planning on working less in the coming school year and cutting back their weekly teaching load. These are just some of the findings of the German School Barometer, a representative survey from Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH conducted by forsa.

“Teaching staff are under enormous pressure. They have to get up to speed with digitalization at record pace, monitor COVID-19 guidelines, and work through gaps in student learning, all while cushioning the shortage of skilled workers and integrating growing numbers of refugee Ukrainian children and adolescents into schools,” says Dr. Dagmar Wolf, Senior Vice President Education at the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Job satisfaction is still very high (74%), but teachers are experiencing far greater levels of stress under the pandemic. “Becoming a teacher is a vocation. But chronic overwork leaves people unwell and dissatisfied in the long run. As such, schools are in urgent need of additional staff, including specialist teaching assistants and school social workers but also administrative staff to relieve school leadership.” 

Behavioral problems among children and adolescents on the rise

Almost all teachers (95%) state that they have observed a significant upsurge in student behavioral problems since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. In comparison with the German School Barometer Survey from September 2021, this percentage has risen yet again across almost all areas. Accordingly, 80% of respondents now report a sharp rise in problems relating to concentration and motivation (2021: 67%). Almost twice as many teachers (42%) as six months ago have seen their students display aggressive behavior. When asked about children and adolescent support services, almost three quarters of teachers mention school social work services. Appointments with school psychologists take place at half of the Gymnasium and Berufs schools, but only at one third of Haupt, Real, and Gesamt schools, and one quarter of the primary schools. 

Pupils demonstrate major gaps in learning

A comparison between September 2021 and April 2022 also reveals that teachers now estimate that a much higher proportion of students have significant gaps in their learning (September 2021: 33%, April 2022: 41%). This is primarily true in schools where more than half of all students speak a language other than German at home. Three quarters of teachers report that students are not receiving the necessary support to close existing gaps in learning. Just as many believe that promoting mental wellbeing should come before meeting curriculum requirements.  

At the time of the survey in April 2022, managing the measures in place for the COVID-19 pandemic was the greatest challenge for teachers (38%). This was followed by the shortage of teachers (26%) and student behavior (21%).

About the German School Barometer
Initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the German School Barometer involves a survey of teachers at both general educational and vocational schools in Germany. The representative sample included a total of 1,017 teachers and was carried out between April 6 and 18, 2022 as an online survey by forsa. You can find the full findings of the survey here (in German).

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