Union leaders have warned of a teaching crisis as staff stay on the sick longer.
In the last three years alone schools in Northumberland have seen sick teachers staying away nearly three times longer, with an average 3.3 sick days for ill teachers rocketing to nearly ten in the most recent figures.
It is a trend repeated across the North East as head teachers report an increasing amount of time off taken by those who do fall sick.
Last night one teachers’ union said staff were increasingly demoralised by the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s “repeated attacks” on the profession. Just yesterday Mr Gove said the Government was having to fight Labour local authorities in the North East, following on from comments he made earlier in the year regarding the “smell of defeatism” from schools in the region.
Speaking to MPs, Mr Gove said that “for far too long schools in County Durham, particularly in the east of the county have not been good enough.”
Praising a new free school, he added: “The fact that parents at last have a challenger school helping to raise standards in an area where frankly working class children have been let down for far too long by a complacent Labour Party is to be welcomed.
“A genuine progressive would welcome it instead of carping and reading from the NASUWT and NUT hymn book”
Simon Kennedy, regional organiser for the NASUWT teachers’ union, said many teachers were considering leaving the profession.
“Teaching is a very stressful job anyway, but teachers cope with that. What they don’t expect is to have Michael Gove criticising them. That constant attack, especially on the North East, is seeing many teachers wanting to get out.
“A recent survey we carried out showed around 50% of teachers were considering leaving the profession.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris called on the education secretary to visit the North East.
He said: “I am astounded that once again Michael Gove has chosen to attack East Durham schools, rather than praising the hard work and dedication of students, teachers and their families who have helped to raise standards and deliver record GCSE results this year.
“Michael Gove continues to pump money into his free school pet projects, while neglecting existing schools.
“It is time Mr Gove came to face the families and the students he is so quick to deride, and explain why a privileged few attending a free school are more important to him than the thousands of children attending school across East Durham.”
Across the region there have been around 13,000 fewer sick days overall.
But the number of days taken by teachers who do call in sick has risen by 652 over three years.