Stress killed husband, grieving widow tell Education Secreatry


Sarah Staples

THE widow of an English teacher who died of a heart attack, aged only 37, says government education reforms left him overburdened with stress.
Alison Utting, pictured, who lives in Ellesmere with her three children, has now written to Education Secretary Michael Gove urging him to see the pressure teachers are put under and change the education system.
Gareth Utting, a teacher at Thomas Adams School in Wem, died suddenly from a heart attack last month. The coroner’s report claimed stress was a contributing factor.
Alison, 47, a former teacher herself, said: “What the current education system is achieving is exhausted teachers and students who are constantly trying to hit targets.
“It’s all about the numbers, everything is targets and assessments and competitiveness. Every teacher I know is working themselves into the ground,” she added.
Gareth had been exercising on his children’s climbing frame at home when he complained of back pain. He was taken to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where he died.
Ofsted visited Thomas Adams School in January, a visit which Gareth and other teachers had been anticipating for up to two years.
Alison continued: “It was not so much the Ofsted itself that caused the most stress, but during the inspection I don’t think he ever went to bed before 3am.
“That went on for about two years and during that time the stress just seemed to build up,” she said.
The school achieved a ‘good’ status in its inspection and Gareth was highlighted as a good teacher with outstanding features.
“After all the work and worry it seemed like a very small prize,” she said.
Alison is planning a return to teaching but admits she has concerns about furthering her career in education.
She continued: “People keep telling me ‘don’t go back to teaching because it’s awful at the moment’ but I have got to consider my financial situation.
“At the moment it seems that nothing is working for teachers and everything is against them.
“I don’t know what the answers are but I do know that if a proper procedure was in place then things could be different.
“If you gave more of a voice to teachers and to students then they could give the answers. Everything seems to be top down,” she added.

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