Schools risking teacher suicides with surveillance 'designed to crush'

NASUWT president claims schools use surveillance to dismiss teachers over competency so that they can save money on redundancy costs

Schools are risking teacher suicides by using surveillance schemes designed to "crush" staff so that they can save on redundancy costs, the incoming president of the NASUWT has claimed.

Dan McCarthy, an English teacher from Essex, today warned the union’s conference in Birmingham that workload and monitoring are damaging teachers’ mental health.

He said: “Intrinsically, teaching is a stressful profession, but it has become more stressful as the challenges of poverty and inequality have worsened. But, instead of supporting teachers, teachers are being subject to more monitoring and more ‘surveillance’.

“Surveillance that is punitive and crushing. Support programmes designed not to support but to crush. Surveillance programmes designed to dismiss teachers on the basis of competency rather than redundancy because the cost to the school is cheaper. What of the human cost?

“I have been told by colleagues that they are not just thinking of quitting teaching but that they have considered taking their own lives.”

His comments come as the conference prepares to debate a motion that “notes with alarm the increased incidence of depression, anxiety and teacher suicide, which is exacerbated by poor management practice and lack of support”.

Mr McCarthy added that Mocksteds were also part of the problem.

He told delegates: “Mocksteds tell us nothing. Well that’s not true. Mocksteds and excessive surveillance do have very clear outcomes: mental ill-health for the teachers and the children. And more money for consultants. 

“With the exception of maternity, mental ill-health is the single biggest reason for days taken off by members of staff within education, which means among men, of course, it’s the single biggest reason.

“In actual fact, mental ill-health accounts for over 13 per cent of all days taken off by staff at any point. So colds, flus and so on only account for about 6.3 per cent, so mental ill-health is doubly responsible for absence days in contrast to things like colds and viruses.”

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