Work-related health problems blamed as sick days almost double in five years

17:15 15 April 2014

Newham Teachers Association members: (left to right) Divisional Secretary Peter Smith, 64, Assistant secretary Iain Hale, 54 and president Peg Probett, 61.

Newham Teachers Association members: (left to right) Divisional Secretary Peter Smith, 64, Assistant secretary Iain Hale, 54 and president Peg Probett, 61.


Absenteeism rates among the borough’s teachers as a result of work-related stress have soared, latest figures reveal.

The statistics, based on every school in the borough, were obtained by the Recorder following a Freedom of Information request.

It shows the total number of sick days taken due to stress, depression, anxiety, neurasthenia mental health and fatigue has jumped from 955 in 2008 to 1702 in 2013, almost double to what they were five years ago.

Teachers’ representative, Peg Probett, president of Newham’s Teacher’s Association (NTA) says the dramatic increases in stress related absences comes “as no surprise.”

The 61-year-old who taught at Essex Primary school in Manor Park for 20 years says it was anxiety and pressure of work which forced her to take early retirement at the age of 57.

“In any conversations I’ve had with teachers, their biggest concern has always been stress and workload,” she said.

“I retired because of stress and high blood pressure from working very long hours and I knew if I didn’t go then I was going to be really ill.

“Since I’ve stopped teaching I’ve had no trouble with my health,” she added.

Peg said the stress comes from the government’s constant changes to the curriculum and the threat of Ofsted which puts pressure on the head and cascades down to teachers.

Peter Smith, NTA Divisional Secretary said he has no doubt those figures would significantly decline if Education Secretary, Michael Gove, were to “abolish Ofsted for the next five years”.

“The introduction of performance related pay and meeting targets tell us nothing about the education of students,” he added

NTA assistant secretary Iain Hale said: “It is no surprise to me but nonetheless shocking that there is an almost doubling of the numbers of teachers off work due to stress related illnesses.

“In the current environment of increasingly unrealistic targets imposed by the government it is obvious why so many are falling ill and leaving.”

A spokesman from the Department of Education said councils and academy trusts had systems in place to identify and tackle stress.

He added: “We trust the professionalism of our headteachers to monitor their staff’s workload and address any issues.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Newham Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Newham Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Newham Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Police are appealing for the man to get in touch

A man who was assaulted at West Ham train station is being urged to come forward to police.

British Transport Police
The NewVIc award winners (picture: Jonathan Szymanski)

High-achieving students were rewarded for their successes at NewVIc’s annual awards evening.

Detailed plans for the proposed Silvertown Tunnel have been released (image: TfL)

The final consultation has begun into the proposed Silvertown Tunnel.

Green Party
East Ham Town Hall

A consultation on plans which aim to give Newham Council the power to ban boy racers in the south of the borough is due to end this week.

Newham Council

Most read news


You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Read more
You won't need to fork out for groceries for a while!

Asda, one of the country’s leading supermarkets, prides itself in being one of the cheapest places to shop, so you can be sure that your money will go a long way here!

Read more

Digital Edition

Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder