The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has set up a 24-hour stress helpline, staffed by trained nurses, after reports that members have contemplated suicide because of problems at school, writes Frances Rafferty.
An ATL survey shows that 77 per cent of members polled had noticed an increase in their own and colleagues' absences through stress-related causes. One teacher said: "The job has become too much. I am hanging on by the skin of my teeth for the children's sake."
Another tried to commit suicide "to get away from it all". Inspections are said to be particularly stressful, as well as high workloads. Increased violence in schools is also adding to the problem.
One teacher from a secondary school in south London said: "The breaking point happened earlier this year when a child grabbed my hair and swung me around. I am frightened to walk down the corridors now."
One primary school teacher from northern England complained of lack of sleep, and ill-health and nightmares after job losses at the school meant having to teach a mixed-age class of 32, across key stages 1 and 2.
"It was a nightmare to walk into the class every day and I have had to take ill-health early retirement because of everything that has happened."
The helpline to combat stress will cost the union Pounds 18,000 a year.