Too many teachers are on medication for anxiety or depression, according to Dave Kitchen, the incoming president of the NASUWT teaching union.
Exam preparation, he says, leads to competition between teachers and an expectation in many schools that they give up part of their holiday break to run revision classes.
“Teachers are very tired at having completed two terms of hard work through the winter months and their resistance to stress is very low,” says Kitchen.
He talks of a rise in teacher suicides, and self-harm that includes teachers cutting their wrists. He says most teachers are working more than 60 hours a week.
“There’s a fear in schools these days. There’s a tremendous sense of fear of speaking out of turn or doing anything wrong, and it’s all down to this business of accountability of teaching and assessing in a particular way,” says Kitchen.
When Kitchen first started doing casework for NASUWT as a rep in the mid-90s he only had about three cases a year, but 20 years later he was doing five or six a week.