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Teachers love their jobs despite high stress

August 28 2006

August 28, 2006 (Toronto) – Think heading back to school is a huge stress? So do Ontario's teachers.

Four out of five Ontario teachers would recommend teaching as a career - but report job stress that is almost twice the national average.

A poll of 1,000 Ontario teachers released by the Ontario College of Teachers today says that teachers love their jobs, but suffer stress brought on by time constraints, parent complaints, performance reviews and school politics.

Eighty-one per cent of teachers said they would recommend teaching as a career - a marked jump from the 67 per cent who said the same three years ago.

But 13 per cent of those polled said they felt stressed all the time, compared to seven per cent of the general public in a stress survey of Canadians done this spring. Almost half (45 per cent) of Ontario's teachers said they experienced stress a few times a week compared to 29 per cent among Canadian workers.

"Teachers love their jobs and want to do all they can for their students, but they're experiencing enormous stress – most of it beyond their control," says Doug Wilson, registrar of the teaching profession's licensing body.

Sixty-one per cent of those who responded cited time as their biggest stressor, followed by parents' blame for student underperformance (56 per cent), school politics (46 per cent) and teacher performance appraisals (45 per cent).

The good old days

If you've ever told your child “Back when I was in school, we could spell a lot better,” you'll be interested to know that teachers agree. The survey asked teachers to look back to the time when they were students in the grades they now teach. Among the survey's findings:

  • 44 per cent of teachers think students' basic spelling skills were better in the past than they are today
  • 61 per cent of the teachers think that textbook quality and other school resources are better today than when they were in school
  • about half of the teachers polled feel that school facilities – and the quality of education today – are better too.

The age of consent

Eighty-four per cent of teachers supported proposed federal legislation to raise the age of consent to 16 from 14. Young people can consent to sexual activity at 14 now and the law prohibits everything from sexual touching to intercourse with anyone under that age. Raising the age targets adults who use the Internet and other new technologies to prey on vulnerable youth.

"Clearly, teachers who spend a good part of their daily working lives interacting with teens care about students' safety, protection and emotional development," says College Chair Marilyn A. Laframboise. "Safeguarding young people against sexual predators makes sense."

Respect at a premium

Teachers thought that while school resources and facilities are better today, student and parent respect for teaching has spiraled downward.

COMPAS, Inc., a public opinion and market research firm, conducted the survey. Statistically, the sample is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

See the full survey at State of the Teaching Profession 2006.


The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the profession of teaching in the public interest. It sets standards of practice and ethical standards, conducts disciplinary hearings and accredits teacher education programs affecting its 200,000 members in publicly funded schools and institutions across Ontario. The College is the largest self-regulatory body in Canada.

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Lois Browne 416-961-8800, ext. 620
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