Union warns of 'burnout' as data shows more than 27,000 days lost to teacher sickness absences across West Northamptonshire
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A union is warning about “overwork and burnout” as data shows more than 27,000 teacher sickness absences were recorded in one academic year in West Northamptonshire.
In total, 3,073 teachers took sickness absence in West Northamptonshire in the 2021/2022 academic year. This equates to 73.4 percent of all teachers.
In the same year, 27,554 working days were lost to sickness absence, which works out as an average of 6.6 days taken in sickness absence by all teachers.
The figures, revealed by the Department of Education, rank West Northamptonshire as the joint fourth highest for the average number of sickness absence days in the East Midlands region, out of ten local authorities. North Northamptonshire is ranked as number two, behind Derbyshire.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT (the Teacher’s Union), said that the increase in both the proportion of teachers taking sick leave and the number of days taken “reflects the reality that teachers are increasingly suffering stress, overwork and burnout”.
“The government has expected teachers simply to soldier on throughout the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis whilst more children are presenting with acute learning and support needs. The job of teaching is becoming impossible for teachers who are also finding themselves taking on the roles of counsellor, social worker and therapist to fill gaps left by cuts to children’s services.”
He said the figures were likely the “tip of the iceberg” as staffing pressures meant many teachers felt they had little choice but to come to work even when unwell.
The Department for Education said staff well-being was “crucial”.
A spokesperson said: “We recognise the extraordinary service that headteachers, teachers and other school staff provide and are taking action to reduce the pressures on them where we can.”
Teacher sickness led to the loss of 3.2 million working days across schools in England in the 2021/22 academic year, a rise of 61 percent over five years, with one union blaming “stress, overwork and burnout”.
Nationally, the average teacher in England took 6.3 days off sick in 2021/22, up from 4.1 days five years before. More than two thirds of teachers (68 percent) were off sick at some point in the academic year, up from 55 percent five years before.