Oldham NUT School Representatives Training

Oldham NUT
School Representatives’ Training
Tackling Stress
This talk is about:
• The impact of work stress on the health and
well-being of teachers.
• Causes of stress in the workplace.
• Potential symptoms of stress.
• What to do as an individual if you are
experiencing stress symptoms.
• What employers should be doing to reduce
stress. The employers duty of care. The HSE
Management Standards for Stress Reduction.
• What school representatives can do to tackle
• What is workplace bullying and how you can
tackle it.
• If you feel uncomfortable……
The impact of work stress on the mental health and
well-being of teachers
Stress has been described by the HSE as “the adverse
reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types
of demand placed upon them”. Although stress itself is not
a disease, it is recognised that excessive or prolonged
stress can be a cause of mental and physical illness.
HSE research has found that one in five people – an
estimated 5 million workers – is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’
stressed at work, and that stress, anxiety and depression
nationally lead to more than 12 million lost working days
each year. The International Labour Organisation has
estimated that the cost of stress to the British economy
amounts to over ten per cent of its Gross National Product
Over the past ten years, studies have consistently found
that teachers are amongst the most stressed workers in
Teaching was rated the most stressful occupation by HSE in
2000 (42% of teachers highly stressed at work compared with
20% in population as a whole).
Between 2003 and 2006 National Statistics reported that the
highest levels of occupational stress, depression or anxiety
were amongst teachers and were double the level for ‘all
Around half of all ill-health retirements take place for
stress/psychiatric illness.
You Gov research in 2007 found that stress had led to half of
all teachers considering leaving the profession. A survey of
London teachers in 2006 found that four-fifths envisaged
stress causing them to leave in the future.
Half of all new teachers entering the profession leave within 5
Suicide rates amongst teachers are 40% higher than within
the population as a whole. (Source – Samaritans)
Causes of stress in the workplace
About Work’ identified main causes as:
• Excessive or unmanageable workload.
• Excessive monitoring. (OFSTED, Performance
Management, Data Collection, Observation, Local
Authority Monitoring, etc.)
• Disruptive pupils.
• Harassment or bullying.
• Fear of violence.
• Lack of control over their work.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Management Standards:
• The Demands of your job.
• Your Control over your work.
• The Support you receive from managers and
• Your Relationships at work.
• Your Role in the organisation.
• Change and how it is managed.
Potential symptoms of stress
Acute anxiety
Feeling isolated
Loss of confidence/self
Skin complaints
Panic attacks
Stomach problems
Mood swings
Lack of motivation
Loss of appetite
Suicidal thoughts
Other Examples:
Inability to make decisions;
Poor concentration;
Unhealthy eating or drinking;
Inability to set priorities and manage tasks;
Breakdown in good relationships in or out of
Sources of information
– Self-help questionnaires (NUT, Teacher Support Network
Stress Test - https://tsn.custhelp.com/cgibin/tsn.cfg/php/enduser/doc_serve.php?&5=87
– Close family and friends;
– Trusted colleagues.
What to do as an individual if you are
experiencing stress symptoms
• Work longer and longer hours trying to chase
• Keep your stress feelings to yourself.
• Blame yourself for being under stress because
‘everyone else copes’ – They don’t.
• Put your work before every thing else.
• Discuss your stress with someone you trust. Close family, friend
or trusted colleague.
• Seek help from organisations like your trade union or the
Teacher Support Network. (They will always give confidential
advice and support.)
• Take medical advice from your GP. (Most GPs are very well
aware of teacher stress)
• Set a limit for your overall working hours and if you are unable
to meet demands within them report this to your
manager/headteacher. (It is reasonable to keep at least one full
day at the weekend and a couple of evenings ‘work free.’)
• Report your stress to your line manager/head teacher.
• If you feel unable to report excessive demands or stress consult
your trade union.
• Try to eat sensibly and take regular exercise.
What employers should be doing to reduce
stress. (The employers duty of care.)
(Who are the employers?)
• Finding out about stress levels of all staff.
• Stress Risk Assessment. (i.e. Identifying stress hazards
and putting in place a plan to minimise or remove the
• Taking pro-active steps to reduce stress and improve
• Responding appropriately to reported stress.
• Recognising that the stress experienced by senior
managers can lead to increased stress for other
• Creating a open climate where reporting and
discussion of stress is welcome.
• Ensuring senior managers are properly trained to
tackle stress.
• Leading by example.
What can School Reps do to tackle stress?
Find out about:
 Stress Risk Assessment Compliance:
• Has a SRA been undertaken within the last 12 months?
• How were stress hazards identified?
• Were all staff members consulted in a way that they could respond
• Was a report of the staff consultation made available to all staff members,
trade unions and school governors?
• Was an action plan to remove or minimise stress hazards put in place?
• Has a timescale to review the action plan been identified?
 What arrangements are in place for members of staff to report ‘stress incidents’.
 Is the response to reported stress positive and helpful?
 What analysis of absence and turnover is carried out to identify whether stress
is a cause?
What can School Reps do to tackle stress? cont.
If a SRA has not been carried out recently ask for one to be done.
If this still doesn’t happen, report the failure to comply to your NUT Division.
The Union should then report the failure to the employer who are responsible
in law for Health and Safety and have a duty to assess risk in the workplace.
To help put pressure on the employer, some NUT reps conduct their own
stress survey of NUT members, or all staff. The NUT has a stress survey
available to use.
Where a school refuses to tackle stress, there may be grounds for a dispute.
Reps should report this to the local NUT.
Encourage members to report ‘stress incidents’ using the accident reporting
system. ‘Stress incidents’ can be ongoing over a period of time. (e.g.
unmanageable work demands)
In schools where management bullying is a problem this can also be tackled
with the support of the Union.
What is Bullying?
• When does strong management become bullying?
• Are you being bullied?
• What kinds of behaviour constitute bullying at work?
Obvious Bullying Behaviour
• Repeatedly shouting or swearing in public or private
• Public humiliation
• Persistent criticism
• Constantly undervaluing effort
• Personal insults and name calling
• Persecution through fear or threats
• Dispensing unfair punishment out of the blue
• Increasing responsibility whilst decreasing authority
• Being overruled
Less Obvious Bullying Behaviour
• Setting individuals up to fail
• Setting uncontracted tasks
• Setting unrealistic deadlines for an increased workload
• Removing areas of responsibility and imposing menial
• Deliberately sabotaging or impeding work performance
• Constantly changing guidelines
• Withholding work related information
In Healthy School
The evidence shows that:
Staff turnover is lower (staff are retained);
Recruitment is easier;
Staff absence levels are lower;
School results are better.
(Source: Teacher Wellbeing)
Oldham NUT
School Representatives’ Training
Tackling Stress
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