THE impact of excessive workload on the health of the borough’s teachers is “massive” and it’s having a detrimental effect on standards and recruitment.

Oldham National Education Union’s joint secretary Tony Harrison said a survey of Oldham teachers revealed some shock responses including reports of staff having to “neglect” their own children and families in terms of not being able to spend time with them due to workload.

He said there are reports of relationship break-downs, partners shouldering the burden of salary to enable them to leave the profession and re-train and extreme overtime in the evenings and weekends.

Mr Harrison said not only are these experiences dreadful for individual teachers, the union is being told by headteachers that it is becoming extremely difficult to recruit and retain good teachers in Oldham.

Oldham NEU - formerly the National Union of Teachers - is part of a pilot team campaigning for a workload charter to govern the sector and reduce the burden on staff. They are the only branch in the north of England involved in the initiative.

Mr Harrison and fellow joint secretary Nigel Yeo were among a delegation invited to parliament to meet shadow secretary of state for education, Angela Rayner to address the issue of “excessive” teacher workloads.

They met the Ashton and Failsworth MP on the terrace of the Palace of Westminster to discuss what they describe as an ever-increasing problem which is having a huge impact on the lives of those in the teaching profession.

Mr Harrison said: “I am pleased that Angela Rayner is showing an understanding of the enormity of the problems being caused by excessive teacher workload.

“Our discussions were wide ranging including the difficulties of teacher recruitment caused by workload, the causes of the increase in workload and the accountability system in schools. We were able to discuss a variety of potential solutions with Mrs Rayner including possible changes to the teacher contract. In the meantime, we suggested some short-term measures that could ease the problems.

“For instance, in many parts of the country, like Nottingham, Coventry and Barnsley the local authorities are beginning to recognise that the education system cannot cope with this unsustainable workload. They have produced local charters which limit the work to be done by teacher.”

The union says it has met Oldham council leaders on several occasions in an attempt to negotiate a similar charter but have so far been unable to reach an agreement. However, lines of communication are still open and the union hopes to persuade the council that this would be in the best interest of the town’s children, parents, teachers and governors.

Mrs Rayner said: “It was invaluable to have such frank discussions with representatives from Oldham NEU in relation to teacher workload.

“The pressure on teachers is a major factor contributing to the recruitment difficulties and the local perspective of NEU members from Oldham brought this in to sharp focus. Nationally I will continue to pressure the government to introduce measures that will make teaching an attractive profession again.