Policy changes, budget cuts, fewer staff and bigger classes blamed for toll on teachers’ mental health revealed by figures compiled by Lib Dems
Teaching unions are warning of an “epidemic of stress” as research revealed that 3,750 teachers were
signed off on longterm sick leave last year because of pressure of work, anxiety and mental illness.
Figures obtained through a mass freedom of information request show a 5% rise on the year before,
revealing that one in 83 teachers spent more than a month off work in 2016-17.
Altogether 1.3 million days have been taken off by teachers for stress and mental health reasons in the last four years, including around 312,000 in 2016-17, the figures compiled by the Liberal Democrats show.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned of an “epidemic of stress”.
Why teachers in England are suffering from so much stress
“Teachers work more unpaid overtime than any other profession,” she said. “Classroom teachers routinely work 55 hours or over a week.
School leaders routinely work over 60 hours a week.
“And it is not just the amount of work. It is the pressures of a punitive and non-productive accountability system.”
Bousted said the number of ways in which a school could be deemed to be failing had ballooned in recent years – and there was relentless pressure to demonstrate even minute progress.
She said that often came at the cost of “real improvements”, describing English children as some of the “most over-assessed in the modern world”.