When teachers are fantasising about injuring themselves to get a sick day, you know the profession is at breaking point

“I wanted to crash my car to avoid teaching,” said the BBC headline, atop the story of a teacher who was so stressed out by her job that she actually considered driving her vehicle into a tree. The Independent reports.

I wish I could say that I was shocked by it, but I wasn’t, not even remotely. 

I’m the son of a teacher. I’m married to one, and, at one point I considered becoming one. I got to the stage of interviewing for a course at one of the University of London’s colleges. I can honestly say that, looking back, I’m pleased I didn’t get in. 

When my wife was teaching, she used to get to half terms exhausted having regularly put in 60 hour weeks. Her “holiday” would involve her spending a couple of days wondering around our flat like a zombie before she’d be back at it catching up with the stuff she hadn’t had the chance to get done in term-time. 

This is not unusual. The profession tends to attract people who are unusually dedicated, diligent and conscientious, determined to do the best for the children in their charge. 

A National Education Union survey on teacher workload conducted at the end of 2017 found that a staggering 81 per cent of teachers said they had considered quitting over the preceding year because of their workloads. 

I spoke to the NEU before writing this column and I was told that while efforts have been made to address the issue of workload, they haven’t gone nearly far enough. Members continually raise it as an issue with their union reps.

At its best teaching is a great job. That’s why I considered it. It wasn’t just my wife and I who had tears in our eyes when our son, who is currently in the midst of the interminable process they make you go through to get an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis, played the piano in front of the school. So did one of his teachers, who went way above and beyond the requirements of her job in working to build his confidence and get him to a place where he could succeed. 

Read the full article When teachers are fantasising about injuring themselves to get a sick day, you know the profession is at breaking point

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Comments

  1. David

    Good grief. Why does School Improvement, which otherwise provides a useful digest of education news, insist on publishing such sensationalist stories? I was a school governor for eight years before I started working in a school as an office manager last year. I’ve seen many very busy teachers and possibly a few stressed ones. But the vast majority seem to go about their daily work whilst keeping the stress within acceptable limits, so why the headline about a profession at breaking point?

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