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Jason Harding, Teacherline
"Workload is mentioned frequently."
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 00:09 GMT
Teachers seek stress counselling
teacher alone in classroom
Long days are taking their toll on many
A helpline for teachers says they are displaying "alarming levels of stress and depression".

Excessive workload, pupil misbehaviour and long working hours, all exacerbated by the increased pressure of school inspections, are the main issues of concern.

Teacherline, set up by TBF, the teacher support network, last September to help teachers in England and Wales, says 1,000 people a month are calling to seek support and counselling.

"The rapid rate of educational change, coupled with increasing pressure and rising expectations are evidently taking their toll," said chief executive Patrick Nash.

"It is an enlightening but disturbing snapshot of the profession at large."

'Mountains of paper'

Teacherline's Jason Harding said many were leaving it very late to seek help - until they felt they could no longer cope.

"Workload is mentioned frequently in the calls," he said.

"We have comments such as teachers feeling as if they are transporting mountains of paper between home and school, the school day not ending until late and then teachers taking home work again...weekends being a thing of the past."

Many older teachers described their school as feeling like a "business" rather than an establishment that was conducive to learning.

"This level of work is having an effect on their personal lives, their health and their ability to function in an everyday environment," Mr Harding said.

Standards

The message to local and national government was that the emphasis on raising standards in education was regarded by teachers as very important, but they were struggling.

"Their health and well-being is essential," Mr Harding said.

Other issues raised on Teacherline:

  • Pupil misbehaviour and disruption

    Callers often describe feelings of helplessness.

    A feeling that appropriate sanctions, such as temporary or permanent exclusion, have been removed because of the government's "inclusion policy".

    Teachers feel "unsupported, vulnerable and undervalued".

  • Conflict with managers and colleagues

    Many callers talk of difficulties in managing relationships with heads, heads of departments and deputy heads. A number of callers describe insecurity and feel a lack of direction in their work and want stronger leadership.

    "Callers feel they do not receive the level of support they desire on occasions where there is disagreement or conflict with parents.

    "Others feel no shared ownership in school policies and mention feelings of exclusion from the consultation process."

    Heads have also called the service to complain about governors interfering in the running of the school.

  • Stress due to inspections

    Teacherline says there seems to be a great deal of stress experienced before, during, and after an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education.

    "Feelings of being overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork in advance of an inspection are common."

    While teachers accept that monitoring is necessary to raise standards, "the individual and collective cost can often feel too great".

    "Teachers feel that their professionalism is often being undervalued and undermined and a number of callers perceive Ofsted as a means of focusing attention on the most negative aspects in education by naming and shaming a particular school," it says.

Teacherline: 0800 0562 561

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See also:

09 Sep 99 | Education
Helpline for stressed teachers
08 Sep 99 | Education
'Teaching caused my breakdown'
29 Feb 00 | Education
Stress forces teachers to quit
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