A teacher fought back tears as he spoke of how he hadn’t provided enough support to a colleague who took his own life due to pressures in an “exam factory” school.
Jeffrey Bates was speaking at the NEU annual conference in Liverpool this morning in support of a motion calling for more support for teacher and pupil metal health in schools.
He spoke of the suicide of a colleague who was a science teacher at an academy in London.
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He said: “That school is a tough gig, but it’s not the only exam factory in London.
Fighting back tears he added: “Teachers should have access to better support than I was able to give as a rookie [union] rep.”
According to research released to today by the NEU, four in five teachers have seen an increase in student mental health problems, with one saying even nine-year-olds are talking about suicide.
Teacher Carole Buxton, from Hackney, said the mental health of pupils was suffering because high academic expectations and pressures on pupils to get A*s, while teacher Anna Wolmuth, from Islington, said zero-tolerance behaviour policies were having an effect on pupils with SEND.
The union also highlighted research from the Education Support Partnership showing a 35 per cent increase in mental health cases in teachers.
The motion, on “Mental Health in Exam Factories,” which was passed this morning, pledges to set up an advisory service where students and teachers can report incidents "in which they feel personally compromised." It also pledges to put the welfare of students and teachers at the forefront of all campaigns and to review national processes for appraisal and examinations systems.
A delegation from Mr Kirk’s school was at the conference.