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Running on Empty

Neoprene Coffee Print on Cartridge Paper

Running on Empty is a print-based artwork that employs coffee as a medium. The piece invites viewers to contemplate the  work-related stress prevalent in the teaching industry and our public sectors in crisis. It serves as a commentary on the impractical nature of sustaining a career in education due to its relentless demands.


There is an inherent transience embedded within the artworks. The coffee print progressively fades, mirroring the gradual depletion of energy and spirit experienced by educators who tirelessly devote themselves to their students, who are worn down by bureaucracy. A ghost printing method is also used to further communicate these concepts. Texture created by the grains of coffee mirror energy and passion which diffuses as the piece progresses. The process of fading acts as a metaphorical representation of the toll that the demanding nature of the teaching industry takes on teachers' well-being and their ability to sustain their passion for an extended period.


Through the deliberate use of coffee as a medium, the artist also draws a connection between the daily reliance on this stimulant (as well as other stimulants) and the insatiable energy demands faced by teachers and lecturers. The artwork prompts the viewer to reflect on the expectations and unreasonable workloads placed on teachers and lecturers by Ofsted and the Government that contribute to burnout, work-related stress, as well as mental and physical health conditions.


Running on Empty serves as a stark reminder of the need for systemic change within the education system and other public sectors in crisis, emphasizing the importance of recognising and addressing the challenges faced by teachers through strike action. By shedding light on these issues, the artwork encourages a dialogue and action to support the well-being and professional development of educators.


Annie Edwards urges society to value and empower teachers as vital contributors to our collective future.

I’ve Got Piles


I’ve got piles

Piles of paperwork


Targets to type up


What free time?

None of it is mine

Our time’s on the line

On hold

Held at paper-point

I daren’t enjoy a jot

What you’re given

Is what you’ve got

There’s no escaping

It’s just how it is

So here’s more paperwork

Prove to me

Why you deserve a pay-rise


I’ve got piles

Piles of unread emails

On my plate

I feel the weight of the work on my shoulders

Folders buckling with bureaucracy

Census points

Rate the student out of ten

Now double the work

Upload it to another system

Cover your back

Block the cistern

Ofsted operate

Through prosthetic systems 
Observing classrooms

A distant loom


I’ve got piles

Piles of data to crunch

Munch on a lunch

Of pot noodle punch

No time to finish it

Not even paid for this

Too busy to break

It’s all take take take take


What’s it like being a teacher?

What is the student experience?

Let me search for it in a file

Microsoft Teams will know the dial

Can you assess it?

How will it fit?

One word that changes lives

One word can end a life


As teachers

We don’t assess with one word

We use many words

We make the time

So why does Ofsted

Put it bluntly

End a life

With one





“Ofsted insists that school inspections are important”

Teachers insist that their lives are more important


I’ve got piles

Piles of time

Sacked in the wrong sacks

Far too dangerous to climb   

Before I topple

I will reach

I will strike

Strike for my time

To be respected

Pay us respect

After reaching out to organisations and submitting a number of FOI requests to the Department for Education, here is the latest data on mental health within the college sector. (Last accessed 07/03/23)


  • Staff in Further Education colleges are working an average of 2 unpaid days per week. (Source: UCU Workload Survey 2021)

  • More than 90% of respondents said pace or intensity had increased over the last three years (either slightly or significantly). 3 in 4 respondents stated that the pace or intensity of work had increased significantly.  (Source: UCU Workload Survey 2021)

  • 8 in 10 staff in English colleges suffer from financial insecurity. 4 in 5 (80%) said they felt financially insecure or very financially insecure, compared to 12 months ago. (Source: UCU ‘On the Breadline’ Report July 2022)

  • 7 in 10 (70%) of the report's respondents said they would not be working in the sector in five years' time unless issues surrounding pay, workloads and job security are addressed. (Source: UCU ‘On the Breadline’ Report July 2022)

  • Over 19 in 20 (96%) said that their income either does not cover their costs of living or only just about covers their cost of living. (Source: UCU ‘On the Breadline’ Report July 2022)

  • More than 4 in 5 respondents (82%) said their financial situation was having an impact on their mental health. (Source: UCU ‘On the Breadline’ Report July 2022)

  • 57% of sixth form college staff had actively sought to change or leave their current job. 57% of Sixth Form Staff and 61% of FE staff have actively sought to change or leave their current job. (Source: Education Support Teacher Wellbeing Index 2022)

  • 63% of Sixth form and 67% of FE staff described themselves as stressed. (Source: Education Support Teacher Wellbeing Index 2022)

  • Sixth Form College staff had an average wellbeing score of 44.68, classified as being at high risk of psychological distress and increased risk of depression, while FE staff had a score of 43.80. (Source: Education Support Teacher Wellbeing Index 2022)

  • “Our findings show that teachers spend less than a half of their time on teaching, while lesson planning, marking and administrative tasks take up a large part of their non-teaching time. Many respondents in both sectors do not have enough time to do the important aspects of their job. This is why they work in their free time: evenings, weekends or annual leave.” (Source: 2019 Ofsted report on Schools and Further Education)

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