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Teachers under stress over schools shake-up

PUBLISHED: 09:10 09 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:39 06 July 2010

TEACHERS claim they are being placed under huge stress because of the way middle schools are being reorganised in Suffolk.

Two middle school teachers facing redundancy under a move to a two-tier school system in Suffolk say the reorganisation is making teachers "physically and mentally ill".

TEACHERS claim they are being placed under huge stress because of the way middle schools are being reorganised in Suffolk.

Two middle school teachers facing redundancy under a move to a two-tier school system in Suffolk say the reorganisation is making teachers “physically and mentally ill”.

Last night the National Union of Teachers backed their claims, saying the experience of both teachers was “unfortunately typical” of the situation many of its members found themselves in.

The female teachers - at opposite ends of their careers - claim to dispel the “myths” a smooth transition is taking place and that there will be no significant job losses among teaching staff.

They both work in the first batch of schools due to be axed in 18 months time - known here as A and B to protect their identities as they search for new jobs - and say their experiences “mirror” each other's. They claim:

# Some teachers are “breaking down”;

# Teacher A's headteacher has been told to “jump ship” and Teacher B's head teacher is starting another job at Easter - leaving children's education at risk;

# 'Redeployment' is “untrue” as they face being made redundant in May and are being left to fend for themselves;

# A points system is being used in the selection process allowing minimum payments to affected staff - leaving Teacher A with the prospect of unemployment with just a week's pay;

# And some jobs are being advertised externally, leaving candidates with a high school or primary background better qualified for posts.

Both teachers - who are unknown to each other - feel they must speak out so that staff at other middle schools facing closure in the future will face an easier ride.

“I feel completely let down as even the headteachers are being told to find jobs elsewhere,” said Teacher A. “Schools need headteachers.

“Everyone in the school is being encouraged to 'jump ship' - this potentially could be a very 'messy' situation which will affect pupils' education.”

She added: “I would say it is making them (teachers) physically ill - it is coming from the mental stresses.”

Teachers are “masking” the situation in the classroom, she said, but warned: “I do fear for their results as they will have been messed about a lot.”

More experienced Teacher B claimed only two staff out of 25 at her school had found a new job.

“There are not sufficient jobs out there,” she claimed, “one teacher went for an interview and there were 26 applicants for the job.”

She said after seven failed attempts in Suffolk the teacher had now got a job in Norfolk. “A local high school even took on a very inexperienced person from Norfolk (instead of her). We were under the impression this would not happen. We were told jobs would be ring-fenced,” she said.

She also warned teachers were becoming “very, very depressed”. On top of the stress of the job and interviews it will culminate in “a lot of staff sickness before long”.

But Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council's portfolio-holder for schools, claimed there were jobs they couldn't fill.

“We have enough places in the county that will ultimately satisfy everyone,” he said. “The schools have a right to see as many candidates as they want to. We want them, wherever possible, to take on existing middle school employees.”

He admitted candidates outside Suffolk taking jobs was a problem but “minor not major”. He could not guarantee middle schools would have heads until they closed and stood by the description “redeployed” despite teachers not walking into new jobs.

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