Many members contact us because they are having difficulty coping with work demands. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) classifies teaching as the most stressful occupation and we know that stress is cited as the number one reason for teachers to leave the profession. Stress is a major cause of both mental and physical illness amongst teachers and is thought to be the predominant reason for teacher absence from work. Stress is not only major cause of distress and illness it is a major drain on school budgets.
So, you might expect the reduction of stress to be a priority for schools. Health and Safety legislation requires all employers to assess workplace hazards that may cause illness and stress certainly falls into this category.
The NUT surveyed all Nottingham head teachers in July 2010 to see which schools had carried out a Stress Risk Assessment (SRA). Not only was the response to our survey very low, but only one school was able to provide evidence of having carried out a SRA.
As a result of Nottingham NUT representations to Nottingham City Council new guidance
has been issued to schools on how to tackle stress. This ‘Stress Toolkit’ was launched
at the Heath and Safety Conference on 22nd March. We very much welcome the new guidance
which you is available to Nottingham City Schools via the intranet here -
Some schools are better at dealing with stress than others, but ‘healthy’ schools have leaders who take tackling stress seriously.
Schools should find out what causes stress for employees and seek to remove or reduce these stress hazards. This cannot be achieved without consulting all employees to establish a clear action plan that will be effective in stress reduction. This process must also be subject to periodic review (at least once a year).
If you are worried that you may be suffering as a result of work stress what can you do?