‘I never feel like I’m doing enough’ - more Norfolk teachers struggling with stress, unions warn

Children at work in the classroom. Picture: John Hocknell

Children at work in the classroom. Picture: John Hocknell - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

A growing number of teachers are buckling under the strain of education as workloads grow and pressure mounts on schools, unions say.

The number of teachers suffering from stress, anxiety and depression has risen in recent years, they say, as the responsibilty of securing and maintaining positive exam results falls largely on their shoulders.

Scott Lyons, joint division secretary for the Norfolk National Union of Teachers (NUT), said most of his casework now related to struggling teachers.

'It doesn't happen in a vacuum, of course, there's real life and family pressures there too,' he said, 'but the stress at work piles on top of that.

'It's the accountability - being made to feel wholly responsible for outcomes and performance of children, whether they are five or 15.'

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He said it affected teachers both new and experienced, though younger teachers were often 'overwhelmed' by the level of responsibility.

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Tim Lambillion-Jameson, county secretary of the NASUWT union, agreed that much of his workload focused on stress.

'The pressure on teachers and their welfare is something NASUWT has been focusing on for a while and it will be at the top of the agenda at our conference this year,' he said.

'Teachers have more to do than ever, with less money to do it on and more and more are finding it difficult to cope with what they are up against.'

Last year, an EDP survey revealed that 86pc of teachers had seen an increase in colleagues suffering from stress, anxiety or depression.

We spoke to one high school teacher in Norfolk, who wished to remain anonymous but said the pressure of attainment saw her work around the clock.

'I regularly work before school, during lunch, after school and at home,' she said. 'The main thing is making sure students make it to a certain level and get certain results.

'I work much more than I should, but never feel like I'm doing enough and the pressure feels constant. It's impossible to not let that feeling wear you down over time.'

Are you a teacher and affected by pressure on schools? Share your experiences with us anonymously by leaving your comments below or emailing lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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