Stress is a hidden but growing crisis in our teaching profession and it is having a negative impact on children and teachers alike, the Green Party candidate in Berwick has said.
Rachael Roberts has expressed concern that many of the teachers she has talked to during the election campaign are suffering from stress as a direct result of Westminster-imposed policy and practice. In some schools, governors and management deny or are unaware that there is a problem with stress and therefore do not address the issue.
She is concerned that an excessive workload and worries about league tables, Ofsted inspections and SATs results, has led to the scandalous situation where 40 per cent of teachers quit the profession within five years of starting. This is a huge waste of teaching talent, and is putting children’s education in jeopardy – this rapid turn-over of staff is a symptom of a problem that should not be tolerated in a mature society, she says.
“Teachers should not be experiencing stress and ill-health as a result of a work culture that prioritises misleading exam results over quality teaching appropriate for all abilities,” she said. “Parents have told me that their eleven-year-olds spent the Easter holidays in SATs revision classes at school. Children also feared their names being read out in class indicating they hadn’t met the grade and needed additional support. Who can claim this is a positive learning environment for children or teachers?”
Ms Roberts intends to make her support of a campaign for improved conditions within the teaching profession a priority after the election, whatever the result.
She emphasised that Green Party policy is to abolish SATs and league tables, so as to move away from the current norm of ‘teaching to the test’.
“Children are over-assessed, and teachers are over-regulated” she said. “We must place more trust in our professionals, and stop undermining them. The Green Party approach is that a broad curriculum – giving teachers flexibility to address the learning needs and abilities of the children they are teaching – results in children engaged in learning and achieving their own potential, at their own pace.”
She pointed out that the Coalition Government’s insistence that all schools should be ‘above average’ is mathematically impossible. “If this is the level of coalition MPs’ understanding of the meaning of the word average, it is a sad indictment of the private education many of them received,” she added.