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Dept for Escaping Stress...

While stress in schools has reached a level where a recent survey showed more than two-thirds of teachers have considered resigning, it seems life at the Department for Education and Skills is no bother at all.

A parliamentary answer given by Jacqui Smith, the school standards minister, revealed the department "has no cases of work-related stress to report, no days lost to work-related stress and compensation has not been paid for work-related stress during the past three years".

With the DfES set to shed a third of its posts, the laid-back life of its civil servants may change. But they have a lot of catching up to do. In the past 12 months, the Teacher Support Network, an independent charity, dealt with 973 teachers complaining of stress and 738 worried about workloads.

Stress and related factors such as pupil behaviour and workload, are the most common reasons for leaving the profession.

Professor Alan Smithers, a teacher recruitment expert at Buckingham university, said: "The difference may be that civil servants are able to reduce their workload according to the number of staff available. Teachers have a set number of pupils in their class and have to do all the associated planning."

If fewer civil servants means fewer initiatives, it can only be good news for teachers. Professor Smithers's research shows DfES initiatives are the third most common reason cited for leaving the profession.

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