Teacher Support Network

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Headteacher inquest records suicide verdict

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The inquest of a teacher from the Midlands has recorded a suicide verdict. The body of headteacher Helen Mann from Stourport-on-Severn was found in the school in November last year.

 

Worried about Ofsted

The inquest heard that the headteacher was concerned that the school she had been in charge of for only 6 months could lose its “outstanding” rating from Ofsted. She had previously been off with work-related stress for four weeks and had taken an overdose of sleeping tablets following a fitness to work interview.  

Dedicated and professional teacher

According to reports, in summing up the evidence, Deputy Coroner Marguerite Elcock said it was clear to her that Mrs Mann was a "dedicated and professional teacher, with high expectations of herself".

The coroner added that Mrs Mann "felt under pressure in her new role as head teacher at Sytchampton Primary School and feared failure.

"When this got too much she took her own life."

Worrying trend

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2011, 63 Primary and Secondary teachers took their lives in 2009 compared to 35 in 2008; a spike of 80 per cent.  There were 42 teacher suicides in 2010 and 57 in 2011.

ONS out earlier this year showed a significant rise in UK suicides in 2011:

  • 6,045 people killed themselves in 2011, an increase of 437 since 2010.
  • –the highest suicide rate was among men aged between 30 and 44.
  • –About 23 men per 100,000 took their own lives.
  • –In Wales, the suicide rate has increased by about 30% in two years.
  • –Out of 100,000 men, 22.5 killed themselves in 2011 compared to 16.2 in England and 13.2 in London.

TSN says

Julian Stanley, Chief Executive of Teacher Support Network commented:

“We are deeply saddened by the Helen Mann case and our thoughts go out to her family, friends and colleagues. 

Although statistically it is a small number of teachers who commit suicide, it is a worrying trend that seems to be on the rise.

Teachers are intelligent, capable, competent, resilient, passionate professionals, who really love the kids they are working with, but what they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis is not what they signed up for. Staff in education are under unprecedented professional and personal pressure.  They are not only faced with significant workplace issues such as workload, structural change and fear of redundancy, but they are also contending with the same problems we all must deal with: money, health and relationships.

No teacher, at whatever level they work at, should feel that they have nowhere else to turn. School communities must come together to ensure that every member of staff knows where to get support, whether it be by finding out support line numbers and put them next to the phone in the staffroom, on noticeboards, or even in the toilets. Then further tragedies such as this one might be avoided.”

You can see Julian Stanley discussing the stresses teachers face on BBC Midlands Today.

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