Supporting and inhibiting the well‐being of early career secondary school teachers: Extending self‐determination theory

Andrew Hobson, Bronwen Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports an original examination of the well-being of early career secondary school teachers in England, which extends the evidence bases relating to early career teachers’ working lives, teacher well-being, self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000), and performativity (Ball, 2003), respectively. Drawing on a secondary analysis of qualitative data generated for four separate empirical studies between 2005 and 2013, in a context in which teachers’ work was subject to unparalleled external regulation, the authors examine the extent to which the well-being of early career teachers can be explained by self-determination theory, which posits that well-being is enhanced when innate psychological needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy are satisfied. The findings suggest that satisfaction of these three basic psychological needs is a necessary but not sufficient condition for optimising the well-being of early career teachers, which is dependent upon the interaction of a wider range of individual, relational and micro-, meso- and macro-environmental factors. Amongst the recommendations for policy and practice, policymakers and school leaders are urged to uphold their duty of care to newly and recently qualified teachers by doing their utmost to create conditions for the optimisation of their well-being. Several specific means of bringing this about are proposed, together with a checklist for those concerned to support early career teachers’ well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-191
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Hobson, A. J. and Maxwell, B. (2017), Supporting and inhibiting the well-being of early career secondary school teachers: Extending self-determination theory. British Educational Research Journal, 43: 168–191, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


  • teacher well-being
  • early career teachers
  • self-determination theory
  • performativity


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