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Teachers: Stress

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 5 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to reduce stress on teachers. (253116)

The Department recognises that there are a variety of factors that contribute to teachers’ stress. Accordingly we have put in place a range of measures to address the causes.

Through our ongoing work with social partners, we are undertaking a significant programme of work force reform to help address those causes associated with work load. The National Agreement on Raising Standards and Tackling Workload, which was signed in January 2003, led to guaranteed time for planning, preparation and assessment, limits on the amount of cover teachers could do, and a transfer of admin tasks to support staff, all of which help address the issue of workload. There have also been increases in the number of teachers and support staff working in schools. Since 1997, the number of support staff has more than doubled and teacher numbers have risen by over 40,000.

Encouraging better pupil behaviour and attendance also has a direct impact on reducing teacher stress. That is why we are investing in a comprehensive national programme to strengthen schools’ capacity to manage pupil behaviour.

In addition we have encouraged better management of teacher health matters through improved occupational health guidance for schools and local authorities, and we are working with employers to encourage early intervention to avoid ill health retirements. We have recently reinforced those moves through the release of guidance on common mental health problems which give practical advice on positive action to support teachers through the stresses and strains that can arise through life and work.