Nearly half of teachers feel their workload is unmanageable most or all of the time, a survey suggests.
The majority of teachers said increased funding to pay for more staff (88%), a less punitive inspection system (79%) and smaller class sizes (73%) would have a “big positive impact” on their workload in the coming year.
A poll of more than 17,800 National Education Union (NEU) members in England and Wales found that 35% of teachers viewed their workload as unmanageable most of the time and 13% said they felt this all of the time.
It also found that more than a third (37%) of teachers, and around a fifth (21%) of support staff, said they feel stressed at work 80% or more of the time.
An additional 31% of teachers surveyed, and a further quarter (25%) of support staff, said this is the case 60% to 79% of the time.
The survey findings were released ahead of the NEU’s annual conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, on Monday, where the result of the union’s ballot of members on the Government’s pay offer is set to be announced.
If members follow the NEU’s recommendation and vote to reject the pay offer then two further days of strikes could be held on April 27 and May 2.
The Government has offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year, an average 4.5% rise for most staff next school year, and it has said a new taskforce will be created to help reduce teachers’ workload.
The survey of 17,891 NEU members who are teachers, leaders and support staff in schools, carried out between February 11 and 27, suggests that 64% of teachers worry about the impact of work on their wellbeing “very often”.
One respondent said: “I have had to take antidepressants for the first time since being a teenager due to the job, along with being signed off with work-related stress. I’m only in my 20s, I didn’t expect the job to be like this.”
Another said: “I’ve lost a dangerous amount of weight and am considering antidepressants. I regularly have trouble sleeping and (have) nightmares due to stress-related anxiety.”
Last month, the NEU, alongside two unions representing school leaders, urged Ofsted to pause inspections following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.
Ms Perry, who was headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school to the lowest possible rating, her family said.
One survey respondent said: “Ofsted is a very negative process that puts undue pressure on all staff.”
Another teacher said: “During Ofsted I felt physically sick, shaking with nerves, barely able to eat or sleep for two days. I’ve been teaching for 27 years, consistently judged as very good, but here we are.”
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “We have known for a number of years that workload is the number one reason teachers decide to leave the profession, and it remains a major concern for support staff also.
“It is a key driver of the recruitment and retention crisis, where talented graduates suffer burnout within just a few years of qualifying.
“Looked at year on year, there is no discernible improvement in the situation. The strength of feeling from our members is just as intense as last year, sometimes more so, and indicates a failure on the part of Government to tackle a problem which a growing list of former education secretaries has admitted exists.
“We are pleased that (Education Secretary) Gillian Keegan is willing to explore workload solutions with the education unions and hope that it bears fruit with real change for teachers and support staff. This time, Government really must deliver.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise how hard teachers work to transform children’s lives up and down the country.
“We are listening to teachers about the issues that affect them most. That is why, as part of our offer to the unions, we committed to forming a joint taskforce to reduce workload by five hours per week for every teacher.
“To improve teachers’ access to mental health support we are also investing £760,000 in a scheme that provides one-to-one supervision, and counselling to school leaders, and have launched the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter.”
Related: School strikes: Teaching union members reject pay offer