Are the staff in your school really stressed?

(188 Posts)
christinarossetti Fri 15-Feb-13 22:49:48

A question for both teachers and parents/carers.

I've had a number of conversations today with parents and teachers from different schools and realised that there's been a reoccurring theme of teachers saying how stressed they are and parents saying how stressed the teachers seem to be.

Ofsted will be in our school next half-term, so obviously people very stressed.

Is this normal in education at the moment, or is it just the people I know?

PastSellByDate Sat 16-Feb-13 01:34:52

Hi christinarosetti:

I'm a parent, but yes - I think staff are very stressed.

Let's see:

Pay is frozen (www.nasuwt.org.uk/PayPensionsandConditions/England/Pay/MaintainedSchools/index.htm

Strike action is in the air (www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/sep/07/teacher-unions-joint-strike-threat)

performance related pay is on the cards (www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2013/jan/31/headteachers-performance-related-pay-schools-michael-gove)

The national curriculum for primary and secondary schoools is being rewritten and will be implemented from September 2014 and the draft has only just been realised (which is still somewhat vague): www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/nationalcurriculum2014

schools are being left to determine for themselves what their homework policy should be (www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9121048/Michael-Gove-scraps-homework-rules.html)

Recent OFSTED verdicts in our LEA have been generally viewed as tougher than previously. There haven't been major changes, but it is no longer possible for a school to just pull out all the stops the week of the visit and then return to normal operating procedure. The arrival of no-notice OFSTED inspections has also caused quite a bit of stress: www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/10/schools-no-notice-ofsted-inspections

As a parent, I think the thing I wasn't prepared for was what a political football primary education would be. Although I welcome raising the standards (I personally had issues with our school being content for children to still be learning their times tables up to Year 6 and not teaching division at all), I do feel that without support and training for teachers at the coal face they can simply find this all very overwhelming. Worse yet, as a parent, although I can understand their predicament, I can't help but be concerned by the daily proof of low standards, wasted opportunities, and poorly thought out delivery of curriculum.

My DDs' school is very uninspiring (same field trips year after year, not taking the opportunity to see anything other than the Panto or a film, even though they could see orchestras, ballet, opera etc... and these theatres/ halls have children's events or teaching 'The Jungle Book' by watching the Disney film rather than reading the Kipling classic). I can see eager and fairly clever kids gradually switch off as they progress through the school. The ones that do well at our school are the ones that get extra support at home or through their foreign language schools (Chinese, Korean, Indian) at the weekends. Children without that kind of support just slip further and further behind.

Euphemia France Sat 16-Feb-13 08:04:01

I teach in Scotland, so most of the issues detailed by the previous poster don't affect me, but teachers are stressed nonetheless.

The main sources seem to be initiative after initiative which leave us feeling inadequate. We are constantly being told we don't do things right, or well enough, and that we need to improve.

I've only been teaching for five years, but I see real disillusionment among my colleagues who have been teaching for 20+ years. They have seen countless initiatives come and go, and are fed up.

Loveleopardprint Sat 16-Feb-13 08:34:48

I have just gone back to work in education as a teaching assistant. I am a trained teacher but I decided to earn less but have less stress. I actually have time to talk to the children and spend time interacting rather than worrying about the next task or assessment.

LePetitPrince Sat 16-Feb-13 11:18:44

We have recently moved schools and that was one of the most notable things - teachers who aren't stressed, seem to enjoy their jobs and as a result, will have genuine fun with the kids as well as covering the academic side. The atmosphere is so different.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 11:55:58

Yes there are times I feel stressed (usually when I pup myself under pressure) but I can't imagine a better job.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 11:56:10

put rather than pup

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 12:17:37

Teachers who are poor at time management, or those who follow 'directed time' schedules too rigorously can also become stressed because of the inevitable accumulation of paperwork/marking, etc.

eviekingston Sat 16-Feb-13 12:44:27

I think it varies enormously from school to school too, and depends very much on the attitude of the Head/senior management. The staff at my (primary) school are all very stressed most of the time, mostly due to the ever increasing workload but also because of immense and constant pressure from the Head to maintain our Outstanding status. She rarely praises or thanks her staff, and approaches running a school very much as a business with the staff as a resource much like the photocopiers. I also think that because of budget cuts many schools are having to manage without additional support staff, and this has a massive impact on how stressed teachers feel. I disagree that stress is a result of poor time management though - most teachers that I know have very effective systems in place for organising their workload, there is just too much to do!

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 13:12:42

I disagree too, and think that's a very unfair comment - a person without good time management wouldn't even make it past a teaching qualification, it's vital for the job.

50% of the profession leave within 5 years, citing workload as their main issue.

Agree with eviekingston re management - our Head was very reasonable but in his push to move us from good with outstanding features to outstanding has turned into a total arse. The best time management in the world couldn't withstand it at the moment - I have counted one new intiative a fortnight since September, and two very good members of our teaching staff have already gone under this year. It's never happened before. sad

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 13:32:08

Why unfair? We had just that situation in our school. The teacher's intentions were good, but she was unable to prioritise her workload. It therefore got too much for her, and she was off for a while with a stress-related illness. She is now back, doing a 50/50 admin/teacher job which she does very well.

orlakielylover Sat 16-Feb-13 14:17:30

The teacher's intentions were good, but she was unable to prioritise her workload - how do you know that? Did she tell you that?

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 14:18:41

Yes

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 14:57:37

Unfair because it has to be a very rare teacher to not find out they were poor at time management until they were teaching. As I explained before, it's so central to the role that most people wouldn't be able to cope with the training, and would have dropped out long before.

One thing the majority of primary school teachers are good at is managing their time. We have to be! That's why I think it's an unfair criticism to level at most, as opposed to unacceptable workload.

christinarossetti Sat 16-Feb-13 15:13:33

Is that true? 50% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years?

That must be a recent phenomenon, surely, or there wouldn't be very many teachers in their 40s and 50s?

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 15:21:20

I disagree with ipadquietly too as feenie says increased workload and unnecessary paperwork on top of a full time classroom teaching commitment would test the best "time manager"

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 15:25:32

Another interesting statistic is that male teachers who work until 65 often only live for 2 years and women teachers 4

noddyholder Sat 16-Feb-13 15:28:21

I am not a teacher but have a couple of fairly close friends who are and they have been increasingly stressed and under pressure the last 5 yrs or so.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 15:29:03

The fact that the children are still the same children but that the results demanded from them have just been raised, yet again, in a totally arbitrary manner, has a lot to do with stress. Everything is blamed on 'insufficiently high teacher expectations'.

JakeBullet Sat 16-Feb-13 15:58:29

I think this is the norm n schools at the moment. I am not a teacher but am a parent governor and see teachers at evening meetings who have been there all day.
Add to their workload all the changes going on, the cuts to the education budget and I can understand why they are so stressed. It's half term this week and I am hoping our teachers HA e a good rest.

Feenie Sat 16-Feb-13 16:15:31

<Eyes the bag of 124 books to mark in the hall>

ipadquietly Sat 16-Feb-13 16:16:42

Well, Feenie and mrz, disagree or not, it is a fact that my colleague is a poor time manager by her own admission. The HT has been proactive, and has adapted her job to suit her needs following her return to work.

It is absurd to say that all teachers are good time managers! Each individual teacher takes a different amount of time to fulfil a range of duties and has to adapt work/life balance accordingly.

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:25:28

Are you a full time primary teacher with other responsibilities ipadquietly?

mrz Sat 16-Feb-13 16:27:43

I left mine at school feenie but I'm going in next week hmm

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now