Heads are not the only ones suffering

28th July 2000 at 01:00
YOU report that headteachers in Warwickshire are suffering an unprecedented amount of strain resulting in "broken marriages, alcoholism, bulimia and depression" (TES, July 14).

I have no difficulty in believing this, but also felt that this article seemed to perpetuate the myth that headteachers are alone in the struggle with stress in our schools.

I have been a primary teacher for more than 30 years and have never known so many colleagues suffering from mental strain, health problems, collapse and total exhaustion.

There has also been a massive increase in reports of staff suffering unreasonable behaviour and bullying by their headteachers (thankfully my own head is not a bully).

The headteachers' unions are admirably quick in pointing out the stress their members suffer and I am sure that the survey is an accurate one.

However, each of their members is in a position of trust and responsibility, not only to the children in their charge, but also to their staff.

How can management in the condition described in the article, support and manage the workload of their staff effectively and safely? As has been shown by studies in industry, stress felt by management is passed directly down the line.

Non-teaching heads do at least have the luxury of a door that they can shut while delegating their mail and tasks to other members of staff.

As a teacher with a full-time teaching commitment and responsibility for several areas of the curriculum I have not yet had time to read our union's advice on workload.

If a survey on stress was sent to us I doubt that many would have the time to even complete it!

Jackie Roberts

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