ONE in 20 Bolton teachers was on long-term leave due to stress last year, it has been revealed.

A mass freedom of information request found that there were 55 teachers in the borough who were absent for more than a month in 2016/17 due to stress.

The figures, uncovered by the Liberal Democrats, show that Bolton teachers have taken a total of 22,978 days off due to stress and mental health reasons in the last four years.

Kevin Walsh, of Bolton Liberal Democrats, said: “This must be wake-up call to the Labour-led council here in Bolton

“Stress and anxiety are fuelling the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, but the government’s current approach is making matters worse.

Bolton Council must work to end the real-term cuts to pay for teachers that are leaving them feeling overworked and undervalued.”

Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, added: “These figures lay bare the impossible pressures our teachers are being put under.

“It is simply unacceptable that those working tirelessly to do the best for our children are seeing their mental ill-health affected as a result.

“I’ve heard story after story of teachers experiencing ‘burn out’ due to factors including work-load or mishandled Ofsted inspections. But these are no longer just the rare or most extreme cases - they are increasingly common.”

Unions have warned that the figures point to an ‘epidemic of stress’ in schools.

Cllr Linda Thomas, Bolton Council’s acting leader, said: “Any claim of funding for education is a hoax under this government, made up of a failure at the top of government to compensate the pupil premium and other funding for inflation, discarded intervention and very clever accounting.

“The needless pressure of the theatre of inspection and the target driven system our teachers are operating in is taking its toll. In the absence of government intervention, it’s Bolton’s family of schools that have come together to ensure not one looses out to the threat of further disparity in the funding formula machination.

“Our efforts locally is some relief for teachers, but nowhere close to begin to curb the crisis facing the sector.”

A Department for Education spokesman said that teachers play an ‘important role in our society’.

They added: “We continue to work with teachers, unions and Ofsted to tackle unnecessary workload and challenge unhelpful practices that create extra work, which includes a programme of targeted support for schools. Guidance to governing bodies is clear that they have a responsibility to take work-life balance into account when managing staff.

“Where staff are struggling we trust headteachers to take action to tackle the causes of stress and ensure they have the support they need.”