Teachers struggle with panic attacks

Workload warning from National Education Union

Friday, 8th April

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MORE than a third of Camden teachers regularly experience panic attacks and a majority struggle to find time to keep up with friends and family, results of a recent survey show, as the head of the borough’s education union said government proposals are “window dressing”.

Gerald Clark, head of Camden’s National Education Union branch, raised the alarm after a self-selective survey responded to by more than 100 teachers revealed the state of wellbeing in classrooms.

It found that more than 50 per cent said they did not have time to exercise, prepare meals or “engage” with friends and family.

The survey, carried out from October to December 2021, published last week, added that 68 per cent suffer from sleeplessness and 39 per cent frequently get anxiety attacks.

Mr Clark said that he was unsurprised by the results, as he referenced the “staggering” numbers of teachers leaving the profession within the first two years.

Government statistics last year found that 15 per cent of teachers had left teaching within a year of qualifying, a 10- year high, with nearly 20 per cent having gone after two years.

“Most of our teachers are tired, they are giving everything they can to the class because that’s why they have come into the profession. It’s the nature of it. But it means their home life is suffering and that’s not good for pupils either,” he said.

“It shows that teachers’ workload is too high and that as a result, teachers’ well-being isn’t good enough. This is not unique to Camden schools and comes from higher up.”

In responses submitted to the survey, one secondary school teacher said: “It’s fine managing it in the classroom, but it’s just a huge marking workload, especially in a school where they produce lots of detailed work.”

Another said: “There used to be double the amount of classes, but now they have halved them and increased the number of pupils because of budgets”

An education White Paper last week looked at tackling workload problems and will offer pre-made lesson plans for teachers, new measures to tackle behavioural issues and a wellbeing charter.

However, Mr Clark said that without more funding, and in turn more staff and support staff, it would not stop falling morale.

“It’s window dressing. The pre-made lesson plans are useful, fine, but they will still have to be adapted. It doesn’t really solve the problem and still requires work.”


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Both he and Camden’s outgoing education chief Councillor Angela Mason said it was unlikely the Town Hall would use prospective powers to set up its own academy trust to run schools.

Cllr Mason said: “The White Paper has a long-time scale of 2030 and seems primarily concerned with Education Investment Areas where schools are doing badly.

Camden Learning and our schools are performing well and in fact undertake many of the functions of a multi-academy trust. I don’t think there is anything substantial in the White Paper to suggest we should change Camden Learning, which is a partnership between schools and the council, and rush to academisation in whatever form.”

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