Newspapers’ portrayal of the teaching profession during the COVID-19 pandemic in England: A content analysis

Laura Oxley*, Lisa Kim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers in England reported that they felt the teaching profession was negatively portrayed by the media, leading to a sense that teachers were not valued in society. This perception may have contributed to a decline in teachers’ wellbeing during the pandemic. We examine the extent to which teachers’ perception of the media’s negative portrayal of the teaching profession is supported by evidence. We conducted a content analysis of frontpage headlines in newspapers in England, related to COVID-19 and aspects of pre-16 education, between March 2020 and January 2022. The findings supported teachers’ perceptions, that there was an element of negativity in headlines related to teachers during the pandemic, to some extent. However, the findings indicated that other groups (e.g., teaching unions, medical professionals, and the government) were also portrayed as responsible for the challenging situations in schools in England during the pandemic. There was no difference found in the portrayal of the teaching profession between newspapers of different political ideologies. As teachers’ perceptions of the media portrayal of their profession during the pandemic has been linked to teachers’ wellbeing, further research into the origins of this portrayal of teachers could be beneficial to prevent the exacerbation of this issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Education Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.


  • teachers
  • wellbeing
  • content analysis
  • media
  • COVID-19 pandemic

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