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School staff concerned over rising levels of pupil anxiety

School staff concerned over rising levels of pupil anxiety

Cuts to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have been condemned by teachers' leaders amid concerns over rising levels of stress and anxiety among pupils.

A survey of 1,250 school staff by the union Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), found that 12% said stress levels are so great that pupils have attempted suicide, 44% said anxiety was contributing to increased incidents of self-harm and 1/3 thought eating disorders to be on the rise as a result of stress.

1/5 said pupils are turning to recreational drugs to alleviate school pressure, with almost 2/3 of school staff blaming testing and exams on heightened stress levels. Just under half felt that “an over-crowded curriculum” was to blame, with 1/5 citing high levels of homework.

Around 2/3 believe that pupils are under more pressure now than they were two years ago. A similar proportion believe the situation is worse than it was five and 10 years ago.

One primary school teacher who responded said: “Primarily the curriculum is to blame as too much pressure is put upon young children. They need more 'down time' and need to be less intense and there needs to be more emphasis on fun and creative lessons.”
 
Another primary school teacher said: “Pupils are picking up on teachers' stress owing to inspections and lack of choice of how and what to teach.”

Mary Bousted said: “It is shocking that so many young people are under so much stress that they self-harm. It is also alarming that much of the pressure and stress is caused by the education system and this needs to be a wake-up call to policy makers.