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70% of teachers feel more stressed today than when they first started teaching

250,000 school days lost to teacher stress over the last year

Stress levels reach tipping point in classrooms, with 1 in 5 teachers considering resigning

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 22, 2016 | Teaching

Over a quarter of a million school days (252,209) were lost due to teacher stress in the last academic year (2015-2016), according to new figures released recently by specialist insurance broker, Towergate.

Towergate’s research with over 1,000 teachers nationwide also found that almost three quarters believe it is more stressful to be a teacher today than when they first entered the classroom. This belief is more pronounced among more experienced teachers, with 9 in 10 who have taught for 15 years or more believing this is the case, compared to 60% who have taught for less than five years.

This increase in stress may be having a wider impact on the profession; a fifth of teachers have considered resigning and 6% have already handed in their notice. The findings follow recent statements from Christine Blower, leader of the National Union of Teachers who highlighted the “retention problems” facing schools across the country.

Among teachers, the top reasons for rocketing stress levels is the emphasis on achieving higher results (70%), the focus on league tables or performance targets (61%) and the frequency of curriculum changes (60%). Teachers also pointed to a number of underlying societal factors that play a role in rising stress levels, including anti-social behaviour (43%) and language barriers (26%).

Top factors cited by teachers for increase in stress levels

  • Under more pressure to deliver higher results: 70%
  • Pressure on performance targets and school league tables: 61%
  • The number of times a curriculum changes: 60%

Teachers also indicated that stress levels fluctuate throughout the academic year, peaking around Ofsted inspections. School trips were also a pressure point, cited by almost 1 in 10 (9%). Interestingly, stress levels vary depending on academic discipline, with over a quarter (28%) of science and history teachers having thought about resigning due to stress. By comparison, the same is true of only 16% of maths teachers.

Classroom stress levels appear to vary in schools across the country, with research showing that teachers in the Midlands are the most stressed, with 78% of teachers in the region saying that it is more stressful to be a teacher today than when they started. This is closely followed by teachers in the North West with 76% stating it is more stressful now than when they started teaching. Comparatively, London is the region with the least stressed teachers, with 70% of teachers more stressed today than when they started teaching.

Teachers play an incredibly important role in our society, educating our next generation and we must ensure that they all feel supported, enthused and happy in the profession they are all committed to Helen Bernabe, Towergate’s Education Division

Helen Bernabe, from Towergate’s Education Division said: “It’s very concerning to see the large numbers of teachers that are feeling extremely stressed in their jobs - and what's even more concerning is that the majority of teachers feel more stressed now than when they started their job. Teachers play an incredibly important role in our society, educating our next generation and we must ensure that they all feel supported, enthused and happy in the profession they are all committed to."

Towergate is the longest standing provider of staff absence insurance to schools and academies, providing cover for teachers and support staff who are unable to work due to sickness, accident, jury service or disciplinary suspension.

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