Two thirds of disabled teachers’ health is adversely affected by work

Almost two thirds (61%) of disabled teachers believe their situation at work has impacted negatively on their health in the last 12 months, a conference organised by the NASUWT has heard.

And a large majority (72%) of disabled teachers say they have considered leaving the profession as a result of barriers in the workplace impacting on their health.

The findings came as disabled teachers gathered in Birmingham at the weekend for the NASUWT’s annual Disabled Teachers’ Consultation Conference to discuss the challenges facing them as disabled teachers and to engage in professional development workshops.

Delegates raised serious concerns about the lack of support for disabled teachers in the workplace, including a lack of access to reasonable adjustments, being forced to work in unsafe environments and discriminatory attitudes from employers and colleagues in schools.

A real-time electronic poll of participants also found:

More than half (56%) of members thought the abilities and achievements of disabled staff and pupils were not recognised and celebrated in their school or college.

Two thirds (64%) of members said they had not received any training on disability awareness over the last 12 months.

Over half (53%) of members said they had experienced difficulty when requesting disability-related reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Too many disabled teachers are having to teach in working environments which is impacting negatively on their health. Many are also being discriminated, isolated and excluded at work because they are disabled.

“The experiences we have heard from disabled teachers today of the difficulties they face in the workplace is frankly unacceptable. Schools are failing to fulfil their statutory obligations in supporting disabled teachers in the workplace.

“Discrimination against disabled teachers is blighting careers and denying pupils the benefit of their creativity, knowledge and experience.

“No teacher should be forced to hide their disabilities or struggle without the reasonable adjustments they need to be able to do their jobs.

“The NASUWT will continue to challenge disability discrimination in individual schools and colleges and continue to press the government on the need for strong regulatory frameworks to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality for disabled teachers in schools and colleges.”

NASUWT deputy general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “This union is not afraid to take a stand to defend the rights of disabled teachers at work, including rights on pay, workload, job security and against management bullying.

“The NASUWT puts the issue of equality front and centre in all of our work with governments, employers and others.”

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