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Stress 'drives teachers out of job'

Wednesday May 4th 2011

Teachers are being driven out of the profession and to the brink of suicide because of work-related stress, delegates at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference in Harrogate heard.

Government initiatives have led to a "meteoric" increase in work-related stress, the conference heard.

Sue McMahon from Calderdale said: "As a divisional secretary I have seen a meteoric rise in work-related stress and on more than one occasion have had to support a member who has attempted suicide."

Ms McMahon said the problem was being caused by "the demands being placed on our members to hit Government targets".

She said a "target tsunami" escalating from the aspirations of the Government is "sweeping away those [teachers] that you are struggling to support".

According to John Illingworth from Nottingham, the number of teachers committing suicide due to work-related stress is "low but significant".

Mr Illingworth said: "But stress-related illness is widespread, affecting thousands of teachers each year. It is more likely to end a teacher's career than any other cause."

He called for more action to tackle work-related stress in schools.

Laura Fisher from Wakefield told the conference that after two weeks into her first job as a teacher, a colleague told her: "'Go home and drink a bottle of wine and you'll be fine. I said 'I don't drink', and he said 'give it six months'.

"That was six years ago. I still don't drink, but I do like chocolate."

She added: "A stressed teacher makes for a stressed-out child."

The union passed two resolutions, on tackling stress and workload experienced by teachers.

The motions called for the union to support victims of work stress and for the Health and Safety Executive to intervene in schools that do not comply and introduce stress risk assessments.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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