Many teachers are stressed at work

Many teachers are highly stressed at work, new research has suggested. Conducted by the Teacher Support Network, the study found high numbers are seeing their wellbeing affected by the goings-on in the classroom, with sickness absence figures among these professionals proving a cause for concern.

Published in The Supporter magazine, the report comes in response to recent comments made by Ofsted Chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, who suggested teachers do not know the meaning of stress - especially when compared to that felt by the 1.5 million young people out of a job.

The investigation, however, painted a different picture, with the Teacher Support Network revealing it received nearly 5,000 calls from anxiety sufferers in 2010 and 2011, while 4,256 people reported a low mood and 3,293 felt overwhelmed.

Julian Stanley, chief executive of the organisation, estimated around 40,000 teachers may be battling stress, depression or anxiety, adding: "It is likely that most teachers in the course of a long career will experience stress that is non-productive."

Chartered Psychologist Alan Redman, Chair of the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology, commented: "Stress in any occupation is a real and growing problem. While all individuals respond differently to the demands and challenges they encounter at work, teachers are a group who are subject to a diverse and sometimes conflicting range of stressors from pupils, management, parents and government.

"Those teaching professionals who experience stress would benefit from support to minimise, counter or adapt to the pressure they encounter in their role."

Professor Sue Hallam, a Chartered Psychologist, added: "Like many professions teaching can be stressful at times, but it is important for teachers and for pupils that support mechanisms are securely in place to help teachers identify stress, and learn coping strategies.”

<p>I feel the above comment very negative in depicting our Educational System. In Scitland we work hard and play hard as teachers who are exceptionally well qualified but need a curriculum structure as guidance to work by. Many communities are getting to the end of an era building wise and are being provided with money for new ergonomically appealing school buildings. There is, as has to be expected, worries about transfer of computer systems and resources from old to new environments but with logical pen to paper planning of how this should be done the shift of location has to be made easier. Having experience of setting up a new school environment, it is not easy as people sometimes panic but with positive approaches and comeradery and a lenient time scale organisation of the setup can be accomplished with morale high. The ergonomics of the school environment is important for Ethos as well as commitment, within work legislation rules. The health of the staff is of utmost importance and regular meetings to discuss organisation and planning is of utmost importance as this is conducive to producing an excellent environment for learning which is what parents wish for.</p>

Teachers are now having to pick up the pieces of inadequate parenting, family breakdown, austere conditions and increasingly broad duties of care as well as the rigorous planning and delivery of lessons, record keeping, sampling of work, grading and assessment of children and designing their teaching styles and learning objectives to suit a dizzying spectrum of abilities, learning preferences, syndromes and special needs ranging from gifted and talented to classically autistic for who they must prepare individual learning programmes; on top of this they have to deal with angry and often unreasonable and abusive parents whose own school experiences drive default suspicion, anger and fear. If you found that a long sentence with inadequate punctuation, then spare a thought for the poor teacher whose day is barely punctuated with any significant rest at all. With 32+ children per hour from 9 am until 4 pm with an occasional hour for marking and preparation which is likely to be cancelled so that they can cover for absent staff, is it any wonder they are burning out? Teaching is not "stressful at times" (Professor Sue Hallam) it is unremittingly so. Constant alteration of government policies to increase workloads and demand even more from each teacher's adaptive energy is exacerbating the situation. Education requires a rethink with the adequte resourcing and wellbeing of teaching and support staff at the centre of its focus.

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