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Looking after your best interests

Patrick Nash highlighted the issue of teachers' mental health ("Unions and ministers 'abandon' staff", May 1), which I welcome, but I was disappointed by his outburst against the unions.

My union has always had an excellent working relationship with the Teacher Support Network. We recommend it to our members and hold regular meetings with it.

We always have our members' best interests at the heart of what we do. It is true that "stopping work is not a treatment", but sometimes it is the most appropriate solution and one that requires considerable negotiation to achieve. In other cases, a return to work - whether full, part-time or in an alternative post - is the best solution.

The workforce agreement has been a success in improving conditions. Its failings are largely the failure of schools to implement it properly. We still deal with cases of schools in denial about planning, preparation and assessment time.

I would like to thank Mr Nash for his many achievements and wish him well. I look forward to working with his successor.

Philip Parkin, General secretary, Voice, Derby.

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