'Eventually I had a breakdown': One teacher's story as survey suggests fifth of colleagues will quit

A teacher has told ITV News how she had a breakdown after the pressures of the job became too much.

Her revelations come as a new survey revealed how stress and high workloads were driving teachers like her out of the classroom.

Despite the pressures, Victoria Hewitt has stayed in the professional unlike one in five teachers in England who have quit within two years, according to the survey.

Ms Hewitt said she had thought about leaving teaching "many times," particularly in the first five years.

"It was really stressful, a really high workload," she told ITV News.

"There was a lot of accountability that put a lot of stress onto me. And there were numerous times when I just wanted to leave the profession.

"I eventually had a breakdown and came very close to leaving."

Victoria received counselling through the Education Support Partnership after her breakdown. The charity can be reached on 08000 562 561.

The survey of more than 8,500 National Education Union (NEU) members also found two fifths of teachers predict they will not be working in education by 2024.

More than a quarter (26%) of teachers with between two and five years' experience said they intend to leave education in the next five years.

In the responses to the surveys, many teachers also commented on their reasons for leaving the profession, with one even saying: "I am getting out before the job kills me."

Scott Anthony Martin said he went into teaching thinking he could "change the country and the world" but the reality was far, far different.

He told ITV News Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall: "It's not a career, it's a prison sentence. It's not worth going into.

"Having that stress, non-stop, having no life, the work becomes your life."

Two fifths of teachers also predict they will not be working in education by 2024. Credit: PA

Former geography teacher Mr Anthony Martin said he initially went into education thinking he could "help young people, and try and change the country and try and change the world".

But Mr Anthony Martin said he was naive: "The reality is far, far different.

"You're very much trying to work with your hands tied behind your back with regard to the amount of money you get to spend on your students from a school's perspective, to the time with them from a teaching perspective."

When asked whether he had any regrets in leaving the profession he said: "Absolutely none, it was the best decision I ever made.

"I left now three years ago and I haven't looked back - I'll never work in teaching again."

The survey findings were released ahead of the NEU's annual conference in Liverpool, where it will debate a motion on teacher workload on Tuesday.

One teacher said: "With a young family, and despite working part-time, I have come to realise that a job in education is not conducive to family life."

Another commented: "Working 70 hours a week for many years has meant my health and family life have suffered.

"I am getting out before the job kills me."

The Department of Education has said a range of actions has been set out to reduce school leaders' workload. Credit: PA

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "It is clear from our survey that the Government is doing a far better job of driving teachers out of the profession than they are solving the issue of excessive workload.

"The fundamental problem, as the results of our survey shows, is one of excessive accountability brought on by the DfE and Ofsted.

"The blame is at their door."

He called for drastic action and a major Government rethink in order to stop the "haemorrhaging of good teachers from the profession".

Two fifths of teachers also predict they will not be working in education by 2024. Credit: PA

A Department for Education spokesperson said the Education Secretary has set out a range of actions to reduce school leaders' workload.

She said: "We have worked with school leaders and teachers to create a workload reduction toolkit, which provides practical advice and resources that schools can use rather than creating new ones from scratch.

"We are also tackling excessive data burdens in schools; simplifying the accountability system to target the associated burdens and working with Ofsted to ensure staff workload is considered as part of a school's inspection judgment."