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Stress of teaching 'affects marriages'

MARITAL problems are the biggest worry for teachers, according to calls to a new telephone hotline.

More than 200 teachers have telephoned the free legal helpline set up two months ago by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). They were most concerned about their marriages and made calls of up to an hour's duration seeking advice about separation, and how to appeal against maintenance orders.

In second place were inquiries about work, which were referred to the union's staff for action where necessary. The third area of concern was their own children.

The service, operated by Hambro Legal Protection Ltd, is available to members of the union 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the ATL, said: 'We understand from our own research that teachers are already badly affected by the present lack of stability in the classroom, workload and stress, and I am concerned that this early evidence from the legal helpline team confirms that teachers' personal lives are paying the price for these classroom problems.'

A spokesman said the company running the hotline, staffed by qualified lawyers, ran a similar service for other organisations. 'They said it was very unusual to get so many calls relating to marital difficulties. We are both fascinated and concerned about this.'