SICK days taken by Wrexham’s teachers cost the local authority more than £1 million during the past year, figures have revealed.
More than 6,000 sick days were taken by staff teaching in Wrexham county borough during the school year 2012-13 costing Wrexham Council £1,033,201 in supply cover.
More than £4million has been spent on staff cover by the authority since the start of the 2008-09 academic year.
The number of sick days leapt from 4,642 in 2011-12 to 6,603 in 2012-13, resulting in an extra £250,000 being spent by the local authority on supply teachers.
The statistics have been revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Leader.
For the past three years staff at Rhosnesni High School have taken the most days off sick, while St Anne’s Catholic Primary School in Caia Park had the least.
Wrexham Council stressed Rhosnesni High is one of the county’s largest schools and the school did not necessarily have the highest percentage rate of staff off sick.
A total of 27,074 sick days were taken over the past five full school years by teachers across Wrexham, with 2012-13 being the first academic year more than 6,000 sick days were taken.
In that five year period a total of £4,198,738 was spent on supply teachers to cover lessons.
Cllr Michael Williams, lead member for children’s services and education at Wrexham Council, said: “The human resources department is working closely with headteachers and governors to manage teacher attendance.
“Revisions to the Teacher Sickness and Absence Policy for schools were adopted in May 2013, and while this framework will take a little time to embed, we are confident that over time the new measures, which are fully supported by headteachers and governing bodies, will have a positive impact on managing staff sickness absence.”
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it thought the figures for Wrexham were more than likely to have been under the national average, based on an audit office report for 2011-12 across Wales which saw the cost of supply teachers for the year reach £54 million.
However, it added the audit office figures were not just for sickness but also took into account supply to cover teachers absent due to meetings and training.
Owen Hathway, NUT Wales policy officer, said: “Like any and every profession teachers are susceptible to unavoidable illnesses. What perhaps we do need to look at is the amount of teachers across Wales that, as a result of unsustainable increases in workloads, are being forced into absences brought about due to stress related illnesses.
“The workload of teachers has risen dramatically in recent years to a point that it is having a noticeable impact on the mental health of the profession.
“It is important to look beyond the headline figures and ask what can be done to reduce the amount of pressure on teachers that is creating this problem.
“Teaching as a profession is one of the most highly stressed vocations which is neither good for those in the role or pupils.
“Tackling this concern will not only lead to better educational outcomes but it will also reduce the financial burden on schools in the long-term.
“With this ongoing, and unfortunately increasing problem of stress related sickness hitting teachers, it is also important to ensure we put in place the right support and systems for supply teaching.
“We need to ensure that those undertaking supply work are adequately supported and offered ongoing access to training.
“We must also look at the practices of supply agencies in how they are taking public money from schools into the private sector.”