Increased workload, curriculum changes and budget cuts are all contributing to the ‘epidemic of stress’ among 3,750 teachers on long-term sick leave; figures from the Liberal Democrats have shown.
Recent figures have found a total of 1.3 million days have been taken as leave by teachers for mental health reasons in the past four years. One in 83 teachers spend more than a month off work in 2016-17.
The joint general secretary of the National Education union Dr Mary Bousted, said; “Classroom teachers routinely work 55 hours or over a week. School leaders routinely work over 60 hours a week.”
Many teachers have blamed policy and curriculum changes introduced by the Department for Education in recent years; as well as the pressure to perform well under Ofsted ratings. Dr Bousted believes changes in curriculum has “left teachers rocking from stress and exhaustion.”
Teacher unions have identified ‘time-wasting’ procedures used to please Ofsted inspectors, is adding extra workload pressures on teacher’s shoulders.
Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “I want to see a focus more on long-term outcomes and issues like teacher wellbeing and retention, to make sure schools are focused on those issues, too. And I want to see struggling schools given long-term support to help them actually improve.”
With this in mind, a Department for Education spokesperson highlighted the fact that; “teachers play an important role in our society. There are now more teachers in our schools than ever before – 15,500 more since 2010.”
She also added: “We continue to work with teachers, unions and Ofsted to tackle unnecessary workload and challenge unhelpful practices that create extra work, which includes a programme of targeted support for schools.”
The Department for Education believes they have been supporting schools, but has pledged moving forward to give schools and teachers longer notice of policy changes.
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