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County's teachers have 5,100 days absent caused by stress

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: November 11, 2008

County's teachers have 5,100 days absent caused by stress
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CORNWALL'S teachers took more than 5,100 days off last year because of stress, it was revealed this week.

The scale of the problem emerged as teaching unions called on education leaders at County Hall to help teachers achieve a better 'work-life' balance.

Figures obtained by the Cornish Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act showed that teachers missed 5,122 working days in 2007-8, due to stress.

This was fewer than the previous year when stressed teachers took 6,025 days off school while there were 6,341 working days lost in 2005-6.

However, the teaching union, the NASUWT, said it did not believe the latest figures reflected the true levels of stress felt by teachers at schools across Cornwall.

Kathy Wallis, the union's county secretary, said: "In Cornwall, we are dealing with more cases of stress than ever before.

"It is now recognised that teaching is the most stressful of all jobs – the levels are phenomenally high."

Ms Wallis said teachers simply did not have enough time to do their job because of the demands of a succession of government initiatives.

"When you get one initiative after another, you realise the goal posts, the rules and the pitch you're playing on have changed.

"It would be really nice if the Government gave teachers more time to do the job and not use us as political footballs."

Ms Wallis said the credit crunch was also causing stress for newly-qualified teachers, who earn around £20,000 a year, as they were finding it "almost impossible" to secure a mortgage.

She added: "Under the Government's 'remodelling of the workforce' initiative, head teachers were given a duty to make sure staff have good work-life balances.

"We are working with a monitoring group at County Hall to help achieve this and if we can get a reasonable work-life balance, we should be well on the way to cutting stress levels."

There are said to be around 3,200 full or part-time teachers in Cornwall, plus an estimated 1,000 supply teachers.

Last month, the Cornish Guardian revealed that school staff in the county had suffered a four-fold increase in physical attacks in the past five years. The Freedom of Information Act figures showed that Cornwall County Council recorded 146 assaults on teachers and staff last year, compared with 37 in 2003.

Fears were also raised that more and more teachers were being driven to despair by "cyber-bullies" who had sent abusive text messages or e-mails and posted offensive clips on the internet.

The growing concerns over stressed teachers coincided with National Stress Awareness Day last Wednesday.

Patrick Nash, chief executive of Teacher Support Network, said: "The Health and Safety Executive itself has said that teaching is among the most stressful professions.

"It can lead to a wide array of physical and mental symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and result in long term sickness absence.

"As well as damaging teachers' well-being, high stress levels among the profession also negatively affects children's education."

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  • seeking1008  |  November 25 2012, 7:12PM

    There was an interesting article on Stress/Well-being & Mental Silence in the Sydney Morning Herald - makes interesting reading - the links are on the bottom of this web page: Search: sahajayogalondon - also there is a interview from Sunrise TV -in Australia again the link is at the bottom of that page. It's FREE - Quite interesting

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    Roma, Cornwall  |  November 15 2008, 9:06AM

    Well done Tregoning! I too am equally, wholeheartedly, ultra sick of having to pay all public sector workers for completely unnecessary time off work/play? Yes, they can claim up to six months on full pay for their interpretation of the work stress. Thereafter they can claim another whacking great sum for doing simply nothing. Yours and my own definition would 1,000 times add meaning to the word named stress. Your husband works his socks off and then can't even claim some help in his time of need! It's wicked. Your husband has contributed to the economy. All the State workers seem to do is take, take and take away from the economy.

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    tregoning, cornwall  |  November 13 2008, 7:10PM

    I am sick to death of hearing how hard done by teachers and other public sector workers claim to be! They don't know the meaning of stress (real stress) working the whole of 36 weeks a year must be tough! and along with other public service workers I can not see how they can moan while they lie in their so called sick beds earning our hard earned taxes for being ill! perhaps if the government brought in statatory sick pay there would be less sick days saving a huge amount of money each year. My husband is a self employed builder and after a serious accident last year resulting in a fractured skull and a badly injured back he was back at work within three days as we could not afford more time off. If he had have worked for the public sector I am sure he could have creamed at least six months of FULL pay. All I say is stop the moaning...get on with your job and look forward to the next holidays and eventually the overly genorous pensions we can all only dream about.

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    Roma, Cornwall  |  November 12 2008, 5:02PM

    Hello Dooby Duck, Social integration. What's that? Do you mean that when at home a child can't visit a library, go to Sunday School, be a youth club member, join a choir, play in a football team, can't have friends round to play? The State system of education is a complete farce. It is very unfair to children. A salesman is only as good as his last sale. With respect think about that please Dooby Duck .

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    Dooby Duck, Cornwall  |  November 12 2008, 9:47AM

    What utter garbage you talk Roma - you never heard of social integration? It may save some money, but not that much if you propose children being taught at home by a mum, a dad, or a grandparent, who would otherwise be working, how will they get by? Paid for by the state also inevitably. How will children make friends, learn to work and play in a team, and have fun with people their own age, as they learn? To be honest, 1.2 days per year, per member of staff, is not that bad.

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    Roma, Cornwall  |  November 11 2008, 7:08PM

    All the more reason why we need children to learn 'at home' via computers and books with a Granny, Grandad or Mum and Dad overseeing concentration levels. Then, more children would perhaps achieve understanding of numbers, would be able to write, read and learn. This system would save the taxpayer millions of pounds.

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