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East of England Liberal Democrats

3,750 teachers in England on long-term stress leave

January 11, 2018 1:00 PM
By Layla Moran
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Eight schoolchildren working at a table supervised by a teacher.

There were 3,750 teachers in England on long-term stress leave in 2016/17, up 5% on the previous year, Liberal Democrat research has revealed.

It means one in 83 teachers is now on long-term leave of one month or more for stress and mental health issues, up from one in 95 three years ago and one in 90 last year.

In total, 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 312,000 days taken off for stress and mental health reasons in 2016/17 are equivalent to losing 1,600 teachers each working 185 days a year.

The figures are based on responses to Freedom of Information requests by the Liberal Democrats from 82 of 152 councils in England. 53 councils said they did not hold the information and 17 did not reply.

These figures lay bare the impossible pressures our teachers are being put under.

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.

I've heard story after story of teachers experiencing 'burn out' due to factors including work-load or mishandled Ofsted inspections. But these are no longer just the rare or most extreme cases - they are increasingly common.

This must be a wake-up call to the new Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

Stress and anxiety are fuelling the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, but the government's current approach is making matters worse.

We need fundamental reform of assessments and inspections in our schools, which are two of the greatest sources of anxiety for teachers.

It is completely wrong that teachers are made to feel that they will be judged a success or a failure based on a single bad inspection or a class that doesn't perform as well as expected.

The Government must also end the real-term cuts to pay for teachers that are leaving them feeling overworked and undervalued.