Depression hits hard in schools

26th May 2000 at 01:00
Karen Thornton reports on Teacherline's gloomy first eight months

TEACHERS are more stressed, more depressed, and more bullied than many other professionals.

And being told how, as well as what, to teach is cutting out creativity, and adding to the pressures they face from excessive workload and abusive parents and pupils.

Office for Standards in Education inspections are also a major headache, but could be less so if more teachers knew more about the process. Many are worrying alone in silence, for fear of looking incapable if they ask questions.

These are the findings of the first report from Teacherline, the telephone helpline, which began taking calls last September. Launched this week at a London conference, the report claims that 200,000 teachers, more than two in five in England and Wales, have experienced serious symptoms of stress, mainly due to workload, in the past two years.

It estimates workplace stress among teachers occurs more than four times s frequently as in the private sector, and that they experience seven times more conflict with managers and colleagues.

Despite an estimated 85,000 teachers having faced aggressive or threatening pupils in the past two years (see TES, May 19), two-thirds of calls were about work-related issues, with general stress and anxiety making up around 27 per cent, and conflict with managers or colleagues 14 per cent.

Workload changes, loss of confidence, performance and family worries accounted for a further 7 to 9 per cent each of calls.

Patrick Nash, chief executive, said Teacherline could save the education sector between pound;25 million and pound;50m on stress-related illness, early retirements, and other related costs. The organisation plans to investigate further concerns about loss of creativity and professional autonomy, he added.

Teacherline is free, open 24 hours a day, on 08000 562561

School Management, 31

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