Stressed, Depressed and Exhausted: Six Years as a Teacher in UK State Education

Robin Burrow*, Rachel Williams, Daniel Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article foregrounds the experiences of a newly qualified teacher – ‘Daniel’ – in the state education sector in the United Kingdom. It provides an insight into the under-explored realities of teaching work and an empirical connection with a segment of the UK public sector that successive governments have positioned as central to economic and social prosperity. It centres on why nine out of ten teachers who participated in the 2017 National Skills and Employment Survey reported that they ‘often’ or ‘always’ come home from work exhausted. In doing so, it also helps to explain why 33% of newly qualified teachers leave within five years of qualifying. Through Daniel’s story, 40 years of neoliberal reform to the UK education system is contextualised and shown to have intensified latent contradictions by stripping teachers of time and the freedom to operate and innovate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-958
Number of pages10
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the help and support of our editor, Ian Roper, and the three anonymous reviewers. We are also grateful to Mike Wallace for his enthusiastic support and insightful advice. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • contradiction
  • education
  • neoliberalism
  • public sector
  • work intensification

Cite this