Slack pupils at top of teachers' angst list;International News;News amp; Opinion

12th November 1999 at 00:00

STRESS levels are rising in Spain, but the causes are different for primary and secondary school teachers, a new study has found.

While secondary teachers put pupils' lack of motivation at the top of their angst list, for primary teachers, it is the complexity of teaching children with very mixed abilities which causes most stress.

Secondary teachers identify the lack of co-operation from colleagues and discipline as additional problems.

These three concerns are cited by nearly two-thirds of respondents to the study, carried out by Isidre Rabada, a teacher of personnel and management studies at Severo Ochoa school in Esplugues de Llobregat.

The study involved 50 teachers and was conducted because Mr Rabada felt previous surveys had looked at the symptoms rather than the causes of the problem.

Primary teachers also pointed to overwork and parents' habit of offloading family problems on to schools.

In Barcelona, 6.7 per cent of teachers took sick leave during the school year 199697, up from 4.7 per cent and amounting to 14 days lost per teacher.

An EU-funded pilot scheme on "Preventing stress in teaching" involving secondary schools in Barcelona, Ireland and the Netherlands, is trying to find solutions to the problem. A manual has been produced to help teachers identify and tackle stress at work.

"The way schools are organised has to change," said Rebeca Espasa, project worker at Barcelona's Municipal Institute of Health.

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