68 teachers off with stress

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SHOCK new evidence shows the effect classroom stress is having on Wigan’s teachers.

Latest figures show that 68 teachers employed in local education authority schools have been off work and reported stress as the official reason for their absence over the past year - up from 56 for the previous year. More than 22,883 contractual teaching hours were lost during this period - a rise in 4,162 teaching hours from the year before.

However the Freedom of Information request failed to illicit which school has had the most teacher absences due to stress, as, claim the LEA, this could potentially identify the individuals involved.

Wigan branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Max Atkins, said that the number of cases the union have had on behalf of teacher members at home sick with “work-related stress” in the last academic year was literally double that of the previous year. He laid the blame squarely at the feet of the controversial former Education Secretary Michael Gove and the school’s inspectorate, Ofsted.

Mr Atkins said: “The relentless pressure on schools constantly to improve performance whilst idiotic new policies, procedures and demands are made on an almost daily basis is ridiculous.

“No other profession has had such ill-informed ideological and political interference forced upon it as teaching, and certainly not to the extent that this government has done.

“Heads are understandably terrified that a dip in results may force them out and their schools to become Academies, and so have increased pressure on teachers to do better, faster.

“This means that pupils in turn are being forced through learning hoops that are getting increasingly higher and increasingly smaller every year.

“Teachers are rightly complaining that pupils are no longer human but pieces of data that must be pushed towards the next target immediately they have met the last one.

“That is not learning, it’s a production line.

“Every aspect of a teacher’s day is being micro-managed to such a ridiculous level now that some teachers are understandably not able to cope.”

He pointed out that the NUT has now produced an Education Manifesto - https://www.teachers.org.uk/manifesto -to stop the situation putting such extreme pressure on the profession.

Mr Atkins said that it had been “extremely well-received and endorsed” by professors, researchers, journalists and authors who all agree that teachers, parents and pupils “know best” about education, not the likes of Mr Gove.

He said: “We are pushing for our ideas to be taken on by the next government so that schools stop being the highly stressful places they have become for teachers and pupils alike.”