'Culture of fear' gripping schools as East Yorkshire teachers take 5,408 days off sick through stress
Stressed-out teachers are taking thousands of days off sick and turning their backs on the profession because of unrelenting pressure.
A leading teachers' union claims a "culture of fear" created by constant scrutiny means teachers are unable to cope with the modern-day demands of the job.
The Mail can today reveal teachers across East Yorkshire took 5,408 days off sick last year because of stress.
However, Ian Richardson, joint secretary of the East Riding branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the real figure is likely to be even higher, with stress contributing to other illnesses.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"The figures are enormously high and I would suggest the real percentage is somewhat higher," he said.
"I deal with cases every day and with the consequences of it.
"The reality of the job is it's pressure from the moment you wake up on a Monday morning to the moment you go to bed on a Sunday night.
"It is unrelenting and a lot of teachers are struggling."
In Hull, teachers who went off sick for stress last year took an average of 33.4 days.
In the East Riding, the figure was 23.8 days.
Mr Richardson said he believes the whole education system is to blame, with the Government and Ofsted putting teachers under increasing pressure.
"There is a culture of pressure which can become a culture of fear," he said.
"It has been ratcheted up over the years and under the coalition has reached ridiculous proportions."
The biggest pressure for teachers was the fear of Ofsted, he said.
"It brings teachers out in a rash," said Mr Richardson.
"It is used as a threat."
He also claimed that, unlike in other professions, teachers were not trusted to perform the job they have trained to do.
"It is built on fear and pressure," said Mr Richardson.
"Teachers are professionals, they have not just stumbled into the job, but they are constantly having to prove themselves.
"If the teaching profession was respected rather than constantly put under pressure, there would be better schools, better education for children and a healthier and happier environment."
The profession is also suffering from extremely high attrition rates with the number of young teachers leaving their jobs in the first five years put at about 40 per cent.
"It is unbelievable pressure," said Mr Richardson.
"These young teachers look around and find other things they can do with their talent.
"Teachers have to develop their own personal armour to help them get through. There is an obligation for education authorities, schools and academies to run stress management courses but they don't, they wait for people to fall off the log."
Last year there were 23,000 days lost in total to sickness in East Yorkshire schools.
Councillor Helene O'Mullane, Hull City Council's portfolio holder for children's services, said: "Like any other working group there are many reasons why teachers experience stress and these can be individual and often personal.
"The council and schools both recognise the importance of maintaining and improving the physical and mental well-being of employees and have systems in place to offer support to any individual.
"Advice includes identifying and tackling work-related issues that could cause stress as well as offering tailored individual support to employees."