Stress epidemic threatening education

A BBC investigation has uncovered the rocketing levels of stress among teachers up and down the country.

Teaching unions blame the huge workloads that teachers undertake for the large numbers of school staff who have to take time off for stress. Although the Department of Education has apparently insisted it is trying to “tackle the issue of unnecessary workload which we know can lead to stress.”

Despite this insistence, a survey of 3,500 members of NASUWT teaching union indicates that over two thirds of teachers have considered quitting their job.

Stress is the second most common cause of absences for school staff, second only to maternity leave, meaning stress is the most debilitating illness for the teaching network across the country.

The survey looked at some of the main causes of stress for teachers:

  • 89% of those surveyed had issue with the workload
  • 45% had issue with their pay
  • 42% were concerned by curriculum reform and
  • 40% had major issue with pupil behaviour
  • 83% reported stress caused by work

The survey discovered the toll stress had taken on teachers:

  • 67% reported adverse effects on their mental and physical health because of stress
  • 5% reported they had been hospitalised
  • and 2% said they had self harmed.

The general secretary of NASUWT described these findings as “frightening”.

One teacher suffering with stress told the BBC: “I didn’t want to go out and see anybody. I became terrified of my phone. If it rang and it was a number I didn’t know, I’d be really frightened.

“[The employers] just kept saying to us ‘we have to keep our outstanding [Ofsted rating]’.

“They’d want to see tons of green pen in books, because to them that was evidence that learning and feedback had taken place.

“That was a massive drain and really easy to get behind with. What they were asking us to do isn’t sustainable forever.”

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