A third of all teachers working in schools in England and Wales took sick leave last year because of job-related stress, a survey has suggested.
The worrying finding has come from the schools’ insurance body the Schools Advisory Service, which calculated that more than 213,000 days were lost to stress, anxiety and depression each year, costing schools more than £19 million.
Teachers were, on average, absent for 11.5 days in 2003, with the three main reasons given being stress, broken bones and sciatica, or pains in the back, hip and leg.
Those polled blamed their stress levels on excessive workload, lack of support from management and other teachers, a lack of communication and having to deal with abusive and aggressive parents and pupils.
Teachers with stress-related problems were typically off work for six school weeks, an absence that inevitably put the rest of the teaching staff under increased pressure, said the SAS.
The survey was also important in that, because it was based on insurance claims made by schools it showed schools were identifying stress as the main reason for a teacher being off sick, rather than simply being a contributory factor to other ailments.
The service called for a national drive to tackle workplace stress among teachers, with unions, employers and Government all needing to work together.
Teachers’ unions have demanded better early intervention procedures for tackling the issue.