Ofsted targets and inspections affecting mental health of teachers

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A survey done by a teaching union has discovered that a target-setting culture and constant inspection is affecting the mental health of teachers. Many of the teachers have reported high stress levels and exhaustion.

In excess of 50% of the teachers questioned by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) have said that the pressures of work are detrimental to their mental health. Almost four in ten stated that they have become aware of an increase in mental health issues among their colleagues over the past 24 months.

The statistics of teachers who felt that their mental health had been damaged were:

• 80% stress-related
• 69% related to exhaustion
• 66% experienced disturbed sleeping patterns
• 57% anxiety-related
• 47% suffered from headaches

One in three of those questioned stated that the stress affected their appetite.

The results of the survey have been released at the same time as the commencement of the annual conference of the ATL. The generally secretary of the union, Mary Bousted, is set to issue a warning that teachers are juggling workloads that are not acceptable.

She said that professionals in the education field do more unpaid overtime than all other groups. They are placed under constant pressure to meet their targets, are observed excessively, have to endure curriculum changes and Ofsted inspections constantly. She also said that they experience in-school pressures which are caused by Ofsted. These pressures are placed on teachers by the leaders of the schools to make sure that students show progress. They have to endure demands for lesson planning and data. She said that it appears that nothing is done unless they have it written down.

The stigma that is linked to mental health problems means that many of the teachers are afraid to alert their schools to their problem. In excess of 68% of those who reported mental health problems have stated that they hide it from their employers.

A warning will be issued that Ofsted is one of the main reasons for these high stress levels. They will further state that Ofsted has almost lost credibility completely.

The Head Teacher at Southend Boys’ Grammar, Robin Bevan, will inform the conference that Ofsted is no longer simply disliked, it is now disdained. He will propose a motion which will call for an inspection charter for Ofsted, where judgements are subjected to a reliability sampling national programme.

Bousted said that the discourse around the organisation has changed. She will state in her closing speech that the agency should no longer be able to sail through their innocent pretence that a problem does not exist with its inspection quality control or methodology.

The ATL did not form part of the recent strike action, but has stated that the morale among its members is very low.

Image credit: Ilmicrofono Oggiono

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