THE number of teachers off sick due to stress in Wales has soared by thousands in just one year, research published yesterday shows.
Stress-related illness was the cause of 51,795 sick days, an increase of 2,568 on 2014, freedom of information figures revealed.
Since January 2012, 202,314 teaching days have been lost.
NUT Cymru secretary David Evans told the Star that he has written to the new Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams urging her to tackle teacher workloads.
He warned that big policy issues such as the curriculum and professional development will be put at risk until rising workloads are dealt with as a top priority.
Mr Evans said: “We can’t continually expect the teaching profession to deliver record-breaking results when we are seeing record-breaking levels of mental ill-health problems due to the pressures they are being placed under.”
He warned that the financial implications are “staggering,” pointing out that the number of days lost since 2012 represents a £34.4 million cost for supply cover.
“This is all at a time where school budgets are at breaking point,” said Mr Evans. “As things stand we are bordering on a crisis in the profession.”
The figures show that 12 of the 22 Welsh local authorities were hit with a rise in the number of days lost to stress-related illness, with the biggest number being in Cardiff, which had a 1,353 increase.
A Welsh government spokesman said: “We agree it is important our teachers are not overburdened. There are a range of statutory provisions in force which aim to ensure teachers have a suitable work-life balance and maintain their health and safety.”