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NASUWT Conference ’19 ‘Climate of fear’ driving teachers to medication, union president says

“INCREDIBLE” assessment levels are creating a “climate of fear” and driving teachers to medication, the new president of teachers’ union NASUWT said yesterday.

Dave Kitchen, an RE and PSHE teacher based in Liverpool, said that in “too many schools” so-called accountability measures were “being used as a tool to control teachers.”

On the first day of NASUWT’s annual conference in Belfast, Mr Kitchen said an increasing lack of regulation in the academy sector was having a “devastating effect” — leading to excessive salaries for heads and huge sums of cash spent on education consultants.

“Unfortunately what we are witnessing is teachers too fearful to speak out,” he said. “We are seeing increases in teachers suffering from excessive stress and taking medication, teachers leaving the profession because they cannot take any more or are no longer finding teaching affordable.”

Mr Kitchen said that when he started teaching he never experienced “fear of doing the wrong thing, fear that my pupils were not making sufficient progress, fear of being ill or of not completing all my tasks as a teacher.”

But he said this has “changed for teachers coming into the profession today,” with teachers blamed for society’s ills.

“Public education is increasingly seen as the next major global market to be exploited by private capital at the expense of the pupils,” he said.

“Hence the overuse of performance tables in order to attract future consumers.

“Members need to come together, as a union, if they are to win their fight, our fight for an education system which fulfils the aims and aspirations of the young and provides a valuable worthwhile job for teachers.”

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