Increase of teachers on long-term leave for stress, says research

16 Jan 18

There were 3,750 teachers in England on long-term leave for stress in 2016-17, research by the Liberal Democrats has found.

This was a 5% increase on the previous year and meant one in 83 teachers were on leave for a month or more due to mental health issues.

According to the party, 1.3m days off were taken by teachers for stress and mental health reasons in the last four years.

Layla Moran, the party’s education spokesperson, said the figures "laid bare the impossible pressures teachers are under" and warned that stress caused by an obsession with exam results fuelled the teacher recruitment crisis.

Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, added: “It is simply unacceptable that those working tirelessly to do the best for our children are seeing their mental ill-health affected as a result.

“This must be wake-up call to the new education secretary Damian Hinds. We need fundamental reform of assessments and inspections in our schools, which are two of the greatest sources of anxiety for teachers.”

She said it was wrong that teachers were made to feel they would be judged a success or a failure based on a single bad inspection or a class that doesn't perform as well as expected. 

Moran also called for an end to real-term cuts to teachers’ pay.

Figures came from Freedom of Information requests answered by 82 of England’s 152 top tier councils.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Teachers have been bombarded with constant changes to the curriculum and assessment regimes.

“It has been a relentless policy onslaught which has left teachers rocking from stress and exhaustion.”

Bousted said teachers worked more unpaid overtime than did members of any other profession, with classroom teachers routinely work 55 hours or over a week. 

She added: “It is however not just the amount of work but the pressures of a punitive and non-productive accountability system that is consuming teachers’ time and has led to children in England being some of the most over assessed in the modern world.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

Did you enjoy this article?