Teachers’ Wellbeing

This article asks “what is really going on with teachers’ wellbeing?”. It follows “seemingly contradictory” results from two recent surveys; one found that “educators’ mental health is worsening, and their job satisfaction is falling”, whilst another showed that “teachers have greater wellbeing and job satisfaction” than other graduates. For their analysis, the authors use data from the Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey (APS), which uses four questions to understand “three distinct, but related, dimensions to personal wellbeing”. The article details these three areas as: evaluative, which “asks individuals to make a reflection or assessment of their lives”; eudaimonic, which “asks whether people’s underlying psychological needs […] are being fulfilled”; and experimental, which “attempts to capture the day-to-day […] emotions over a reference period”. Using educators’ responses to these questions since 2011, the authors found that, “in summary, teachers’ wellbeing is increasing, and their anxiety is decreasing”. However, those that are “senior leaders” or “further education lecturers” have “either plateauing or falling” wellbeing and their anxiety is not improving. The authors believe the difference may be caused by “pressure from accountability systems” and budgetary issues.

Flooding in the North

This paper is the third in the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)’s Natural Assets North briefing collection. It aims to “explore the interaction between natural assets, people and the economy in the North […] identifying opportunities to demonstrate and increase their value”. The briefing considers the risks that flooding could have on the northern economy. It argues these risks have been “exacerbated by climate change”, as well as by “historical decisions about development and land use”. The paper begins by explaining how many parts of northern England are highly vulnerable to flooding, giving examples of floods in parts of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire in November 2019. Drawing on more historic instances of flooding, the paper argues that “high levels of flooding in areas of low resilience can incur significant costs” on both local areas and on the northern economy as a whole. The author calls for northern leaders to commit to “embedding flood resilience into decision-making across the region” and for the Government to support “greater flexibility in funding for flood management”. Lastly, the author states that communities should be consulted, so that their interests are taken into consideration when the most effective way to use land is considered.   

Effects of Poverty

The British Psychological Society’s (BPS) theme for 2020 is ‘from poverty to flourishing’. Writing in the BPS’s journal, Emma Young considers the effects of poverty from a psychological perspective. A body of research has shown that poverty has a physically detrimental effect on a child’s cognitive development. For example, findings have indicated that the stresses of poverty can damage the development of the pre-frontal cortex, an area of the brain vitally important for complex cognition. Other studies have shown evidence that poverty can have a detrimental impact on the development of memory formation in the hippocampus, a complex brain structure embedded in the temporal lobe. Further studies suggest this damage is long-lasting, and has knock-on effects in adulthood. However, Young also highlights that not all children growing up in poverty experience such effects. Environmental factors, such as plentiful green space, and regular conversations with parents and other adults have been shown to have a positive developmental influence on children growing up in poverty. Young concludes by emphasising that there remains deeper problems in the UK, despite studies showing successful methods of alleviating the effects of poverty on children. High levels of household debt, increased use of food banks and high levels of food insecurity for families in the UK during 2018/19 mean that there remains a long way to go before poverty is eradicated.