Insurers charge more for stressed staff

Rising levels of stress among headteachers are causing insurers to charge more for absence coverage.

The Schools Advisory Service, an insurance company, said last year that the pressure on senior staff was reaching "danger levels" as nearly four out of 10 absences by headteachers were stress-related. It now predicts that insurance premiums to cover absent headteachers will increase by 11 per cent by April next year.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, writes in today's TES that the change in insurance premiums is one of the indications of the growing pressure on school leaders.

Mr Brookes writes that an overload of initiatives are "driving school leaders to the wall" while the education system is "in real danger of drowning itself in a sea of data".

The former primary headteacher calls for high-stakes tests to be replaced by a system where teacher assessment is the main way of judging pupils'

performances, with some national tests which children can do online when they are ready for them.

"There must be a scaling-down of the negative, hierarchical view of performance that creates cliff edges of analysis where many schools feel as though they are continually balancing at the brink of a precipice," Mr Brookes said.

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