When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Sick days fall for teachers
TEACHERS in Oxfordshire are absent for fewer than five days each year on average, according to Oxfordshire County Council.
Figures obtained by the Oxford Mail under the Freedom of Information Act show the number of days taken off by teachers dropped from an average of 4.94 in 2005-2006 to 4.41 in the 2009-2010 academic year.
They also revealed four nurseries and 23 primary schools recorded a zero absence rate in the last year.
County Hall said the figures were not entirely reliable as, until 2009, schools only had to report absences of more than three days.
New Hinksey Primary School has recorded a zero absence rate for four out of the last five years.
Headteacher Charlotte Haynes said: “We do have very low teacher absence. Everybody comes to work here to enjoy it and because it is quite a small school, it is like a large family with a very nurturing, caring ethos.”
She said the school had policies in place for stress reduction and had subscribed to the county council’s occupational health service, but said it had only been used twice in the last seven years.
Mrs Haynes added: “A number of teachers job share, so perhaps their work-life balance is better because they are not working five days on the trot.
“Our part-time teachers try to be flexible so if we need someone to cover on a day they are not working, they try to cover – it is very unusual for us to have an unknown person teaching in school.”
In three of the last years, West Oxford Primary School in Ferry Hinksey Road recorded a zero absence rate, according to the council.
Headteacher Julie St Clair Hoare said: “We try to make sure teachers have adequate time for learning prepartion and assessment.
“I think it is important to make sure people are not working too many excessive hours.
“People are very conscientious but it is important to look after your school staff because they are incredibly valuable.”
The highest average absence was at Chadlington Primary School, with an average of 49 days off per teacher last year.
Other schools with average absences of more than 20 days were Clifton Hampden, Middle Barton, RAF Benson, West Witney and Wroxton primary schools.
County council spokesman Louise Mendonca said: “Where a school has a small number of teachers, long term sickness of one member of staff can skew the figures to make it look like the average time off per teacher is considerably higher than it otherwise would be.
“We provide a wide range of support for teachers including the staff care service, a free of charge personal support service, occupational health and our dedicated schools' human resources team.”