Given the disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has engendered in people’s professional lives, the importance and contribution of certain workforces has been under particular scrutiny. In England, the teaching profession has been under particularly close public scrutiny, with concerns that teachers’ perceived social appreciation may have decreased throughout the pandemic. Thus, the current study examined the trajectory of teachers’ perceptions of how much society, policymakers and the media had valued the teaching profession throughout this time. With an initial sample of 24 primary and secondary teachers in mainstream state schools in England, 54 online interviews took place at three time points: when school buildings were partially reopened for the first time (June 2020), when they were partially closed for the second time (February 2021) and when they were fully reopened for 16 months (July 2022). Three themes were identified in the data using a longitudinal trajectory analysis based on reflexive thematic analysis: ‘initial admiration from local communities progressively waned’, ‘continuous government disrespect towards teachers’ and ‘initial media vitriol towards teachers was sustained’. Implications for how teachers and other stakeholders in education can most effectively work together for the benefit of the health and effectiveness of the teaching profession and the educational system are considered in the context of the associated risks when teachers have low levels of perceived social appreciation.