Teacher sickness: Worst affected schools in London as absence levels rise across England

The Teacher’s Union said the increase in sick days “reflects the reality that teachers are increasingly suffering stress, overwork and burnout”.

There has been a sharp rise in sick days taken by teachers in both inner and outer London, with new figures showing the worst affected schools.

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% over five years, with one union blaming “stress, overwork and burnout”.

The average teacher in England took 6.3 days off sick in 2021/22, up from 4.1 days five years before, Department for Education figures show. More than two thirds of teachers (68%) were off sick at some point in the academic year, up from 55% five years before.

In inner London, teachers took an average of 5.9 days off sick in the last academic year, up from 3.6 days in 2016/17, while in outer London, the average number of sick days rose from 3.6 to 5.6.

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.”

Here we reveal which schools in the wider London region had the greatest average number of days taken in sickness absence by teachers, including those who were not off sick. We have omitted schools where fewer than five teachers took sick leave.

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