According to ATL General Secretary Mary Bousted, stressed teachers are being reduced to tears with their workload and lack of support. Mary said she was ‘silenced’ after hearing some of the stories from and about stressed teachers. She recounted a story about a partner of a school teacher who would come home from work, to find his wife crying on the kitchen floor most days due to stress from school. Dr Bousted also said about another teacher who had been given a performance objective “not to cry in the staffroom” by her line manager. The ATL secretary claimed that she didn’t know what to be more mortified about – the fact a teacher was regularly crying in the staffroom or the fact her line manager could propose such an objective without any attempt to rectify what was making her cry! Stories like this has led Dr Bousted calling on all head teachers to support their staff further, while putting pressure on the Government to reduce unnecessary workload. But will it ever happen?
Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders), believes that the whole teaching profession, from NQT’s to the senior leaders, are under considerable pressure. The ASCL secretary firmly believes that “it’s essential that we all pay attention to the well-being of staff. This is a shared responsibility between colleagues of the same level, middle leaders, senior leaders and governors, who ultimately carry the duty of care.”
Teachers are expected to work an impossible workload which often go long into the evening and take up too much of the weekend and just accept that ‘that’s the way it is in teaching’. This however cannot be the way forward. With pupil numbers in schools rocketing, teacher retention is vital. Official figures show that the country will need nearly 160,000 additional teachers over the next three years to cope with the projected rise in pupils by 2020.
A Department for Education spokesman commented on the issue by claiming that teaching currently remains a hugely popular profession, with the highest numbers of people joining since 2008. However with schools struggling to retain their current teachers this means nothing. The Department for Education spokesmen continued to say “it is vital schools have systems in place to help limit stress for staff, and provide appropriate support if needed.” But how are the DoE actually going to do this?
The teaching workload has been long talked about, however not a lot has been done. What can the government do to allow teachers to focus on what they do best – teach? It is all well and good these issues being raised again, but will anything actually be done? Do our teachers get enough support from their head teachers, or are they left out in the cold? Have your say here…
Teaching can be one of the most stressful professions – make sure you are clued up on ways to reduce stress. For support and help go to http://www.acas.org.uk/stress